Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Writing? Housekeeping? Dreaming?

The thing about writing is this: you have to invest a lot of time into writing, without expectation of any payoff for a very long time. For me, this is tremendously difficult to do, not because I am impatient, but because of guilt. I feel that I ought to be doing all sorts of other things, like cleaning and organizing and being available for my children at all times. Not that I do clean and organize (I despise these occupations). Mostly I sit around and feel worthless for not cleaning and organizing. But I do not allow myself to write, because I have not done the cleaning and organizing.

Now and then, I write a blog post, because a blog post is fairly short and I can steal that much time, forgetting myself for a little bit. But the thought of starting "The Novel" is something else... something like a forbidden fruit. How dare I? How selfish would I have to be? How much would it cost my family if I devoted myself to such a passion?

I used to be absolutely paralyzed with cleaning because my mother taught me, literally pounded into me, that I absolutely must do the dusting before I vacuum. Thirty years later and 1400 miles away, in my own house, I would walk around in bare feet, feeling yucky stuff sticking to the undersides of my toes, sickened. I would wish like the dickens that I could vacuum. But I could not bring myself to dust first, and so I suffered.

Then one day I pulled out the vacuum and vacuumed. I vacuumed a dusty room. But the floor was clean then, and it felt better on my feet. A few days later, I did dust. Dusting is not so bad. It is quiet and does not require any heavy lifting. Wood furniture looks pretty nice when it has been dusted; dusting is not even a thankless job.

I can clean now and then. I can even enjoy it... randomly. But I don't think I will ever be able to clean on a schedule. It's like eating oatmeal; I do it once, and the next day the thought of it gives me a gag reflex, and I have to wait quite awhile before I can stomach it again.

I wonder if I could ever get to where I felt I had permission to set other things aside and write?

No comments: