I don’t love cleaning out my cat’s litter box. I’d rather toss the trash and do the laundry than wash another dish, and I’m way too lax with scrubbing the shower floor, though I’m perfectly happy to yank my hair from the drain so it doesn’t clog.
I’m still in the honeymoon stage of keeping my own home after years of living with my parents–and my boyfriend, brother, grandma, full circus troop… cooking, cleaning, lighting a nice fall candle, it all holds that fresh fun I get to do this in my own home! appeal. Most of the time.
Because while I don’t mind keeping house–and I take great pleasure in watering my planets, dicing fresh peppers from the gardens and creating all manner of crockpot dishes, these tasks are a distraction from writing books.
What would I pay to never have to do again?
I honestly have no idea. I enjoy a good workout and I like the challenge of sweating out a sticky plot problem or character arc. Keeping my home is nice, a chance to feel like maybe I do have something together. My knee jerk reaction says I can do life, at least from where I’m looking right now.
But if I had more time…
Those small tasks, those are rewarding. I have cleaned the kitchen! The shower is shiny! I don’t have to turn my underpants inside out because it’s been two weeks since I’ve done laundry. A successful writing day is rewarding in its own way, a building of a far bigger project, something that one day will be in my hand, will be in someone else’s hand, but if I’m looking for instant satisfaction, well, that’s not it.
What would I pay to never have to do again? Doubt myself. Wonder if I chose the right path for my career and my life. Allow my anxiety and fear to keep me from starting or finishing or just fucking working on a new project.
I would pay to never have to do laundry in an apartment basement with dryers I have to run twice and never enough quarters. I would pay to never lose another pet. I would pay to keep everyone I love as close as possible and to never worry about America’s–or any nation’s– vulnerability to hatred and violence. I would definitely pay never to be as hungover as I was that one time before winter break my junior year of college when they made our last final on a Saturday night.
These are things out of my control. But cleaning and cooking, taking time to keep my home and myself, those are not. I have the ability–the resources, support, and opportunity–to make writing my priority, my number one task, goal, and intention for the day. I am capable of putting my career at the top of the list–before dinner, before an empty sink, before a fresh load of laundry.
If there was ever a truth I struggled with, it was this. Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean being productive. Balance is important. It’s fundamental to success. But I have found over the years of doing this that the perfect balance can change. And right now, it’s time for me to tip the scales away from the perfect home and toward this next book.