Sunday, September 1, 2013

How Writing Is Like Cleaning The Floor

A good friend of mine recently wrote an article about the things no one ever tells you to expect once you become published. One item that stuck with me is how, when you're editing your work,
you begin to notice how messy your house has become while you were in the giddy, creative stage of writing your manuscript. And your awareness of the filth and clutter becomes more acute the deeper into the editing process you go. Suddenly, corralling that recalcitrant dust-bunny becomes more important than eliminating that dangling participle. 

Case in point: I spent the weekend putting the final polish on my WIP. I'd painstakingly gone through the process of verifying every scene against my self-imposed checklist over the past few weeks, and I was finally able to dump it out of Scrivener and into a word document, where I set about formatting it and polishing it up. The final step in the editing process started yesterday, and I had a sudden urge to clean the kitchen floor. Usually housekeeping is so far down on my to-do list I can't see it because of the piles of rubble that build up during the exciting, creative phase. And my kitchen floor is probably as old as I am, and it takes forever to make it presentable. Kind of like me getting ready to go somewhere.

Kind of like the process of taking a manuscript and getting it ready to submit. Hmmm....

First, I sweep the floor. That's the easy, breezy part and I can actually see progress being made. The flash draft.

Second, I clean the floor, using a Swiffer machine and liquid cleanser. The first-read-through.

Third, because the floor is old and full of crevices to make it look like it's something it's not, I have to use bleach to really clean the nooks and crannies in the ancient tile. Then, I have to rinse. My checklist, where I am aware of the senses, duplication of words, words I overuse, or which are telling. That kind of thing.

Finally, I polish the floor to a healthy, clean-looking shine. Formatting the manuscript and the final read-through.

See what I mean? And, yes, I CAN make an analogy out of just about anything.



12 comments:

  1. Love your analogy Becky. I am a compulsive cleaner and can't sit anywhere comfortably until the area is cleaned, presentable. And then it would be perfect if I had a steamy cup of coffee. With a sandwich. But the crumbs....LOL.
    It's a wonder we ever get any writing done!
    Fun post!

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    1. I always hoped to room with a compulsive cleaner, but it never happened. Back in the day when I was a smoker, I had a roomie who would always pack my cigarettes back into my purse instead of leaving them within arm's distance, but I think she was trying to send me a message--and it wasn't that she was a clean freak...

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  2. Becky, would you please come over to my house and clean my kitchen floor? LOL! Great blog post. I used to clean my house regularly, but then I got published and... :)

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    1. I hear ya. These are the things no one tells you when you're trying to become published. Is the measure to greatness how messy one's house is? Nah, I can't believe Nora Roberts has a messy house. She can afford a cleaning service.

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  3. Becky, I can identify with those dust bunnies. They are piling up at my house as I work desperately on a current deadline. I'm not so much a flash cleaner though. I like the spot and page I'm working on right/clean the first sweep.

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    1. I've always admired people who can do a complete draft and be done the first go-round. I have to layer it in, and go back to the beginning each time and start afresh. It's probably not any more of an investment in time to do it my way, but at the end, I'm awfully tired of the story...

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  4. You just gave a new answer to the question: What would you tell someone they should know about getting published? HaHa ;-)

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    1. Housework suffering is only one of the biggies, that's for sure. Actually, Micah Persell can be credited with it. She wrote a delightful piece for our newsletter about the things no one tells you about being published.

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  5. Hi Becky,
    Delightful post! While working full time, I had a cleaning lady come in every two weeks. When I retired, I let her go. Might be time to give her a call...

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  6. Nice analogy! Who knew writing and cleaning the house would be similar? I agree, though, that it’s easy to take the cleanliness of your house for granted, especially when you’re preoccupied with work or a project.

    Lewis Simpson

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  7. The blog has helped me a lot to know more about the things of Professional Floor Cleaners Prior Lake MN

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