The Cleaning That Never Ends

brush-cleaning-scrubber-45059Do you remember “The Song That Doesn’t End”? DON’T watch it unless you want to hear that song in your head for the rest of the day…

I only mention it because I feel like I could replace “song” with “cleaning” and that would sum up the situation here at Casa de Hall. Specifically, my upstairs office:

This is the cleaning that never ends. It just goes on and on, my friends. 

I started cleaning it last month not knowing what it was. And I’ll continue cleaning it forever just because…this is the cleaning that never ends. 

And it’s not like your everyday cleaning. Oh, no. It’s my writing life. A great big pile of my writing life. And you know how you like to think you’re a relatively spiritual person, not attached to things in this world? Yeah…when it comes to writing–your words and such–it’s not so easy. Suddenly, you’re a raving egotistical maniac!

Or maybe that’s just me. The point is, suddenly, I’m reading reams of stuff because it’s my stuff. These are my precious, precious words. And even though my brain is screaming, “Cathy! You don’t have time for this!” my eyes are scanning the lines. My stomach is lurching.

Because these may be my precious words but many of these words–TONS OF THESE WORDS–are not good. In point of fact, they’re rather bad. Eventually, I realize that this essay or that manuscript stinks and I give it a toss. But my hands are slow in doing what my brain (and stomach) knew the minute I scanned the first line.

It gives me a whole new perspective on agents and editors who blithely toss my precious words after reading the first line; they’re not invested. It’s easy to toss when you’re not invested.

And so I’ve had to detach in order to get any cleaning done. Asking, “How Important Is It?” has been helpful, too, which you’ll see when you read my post over at The Muffin. My poor little ego has been bruised and battered through this process, but I’m sorta making progress on the upstairs office.

Not a lot of progress, mind you. This is the cleaning that never ends. It just goes on and on, my friends. 

Ugh.

(Sorry about the song. If it makes you feel any better, it’s stuck in my head, too.)

 

The Upside of Cold Weather

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Yeah, that’s a blanket in my office chair. And I’m wearing a sweatshirt. Also, the space heater is running below AND Libs is squinched up next to me. It’s THAT cold.

 

I know it’s a LOT colder in a lot of places in the world, that people are dealing with blizzards and ice and below-freezing temperatures. And I’m not complaining that it’s been pretty darn cold here in my corner of Georgia; I’m just saying that when it gets cold like this, in GEORGIA, for cryin’ out loud, I don’t go out. Well, I go out but mostly when I need supplies.

So I’ve had a LOT of time indoors since January 1st. And when one spends a LOT of time indoors, one tends to notice the sorts of things one ignores when one is gallivantin’. To wit, cobwebs in the corners, stains on the carpet, junk spilling out of drawers…it’s enough to make one want to brave the cold. But instead, I’ve knuckled down and tossed and scrubbed and vacuumed (with that attachment that reaches the recesses of corners).

And I have to say, all that cleaning has reaped benefits (besides the obvious lack of cobwebs and dust and clutter in the house). When I clean, my brain goes into a different zone and I’ve been finding LOTS of ideas amongst the messiness of my life. I explain it way better over at the Muffin in “Ideas Are All Around You” so I hope you’ll take a look.

I also hope that if you’re somewhere cold and stuck indoors that you have plenty of heat! And after heat, I hope you find lots of ideas while waiting for the thaw. And lastly, I hope you have sense enough to write down all your great ideas.

Because I might’ve found lots of great ideas, but I have no idea where I put ’em.

Becoming Real

IMG_20181107_103920387_BURST000_COVERSo in between the constant robo-calls and the ceiling cracks and the flooding on the floor AND the non-stop barking because ringing phones and working folks in the house call for non-stop Libs patrol, I have managed to come up with something over at the Muffin.

And considering that as I’m typing this post, Libs is cowered behind me, in my office chair, because the YARD MAN IS HERE WITH TOOLS OF DESTRUCTION (leaf blower at the moment), it’s kinda amazing.

Um…just to be clear, the blog post itself is not that amazing. It’s just me, speaking my truth in “This I Know 2.0.” But after I read it this morning, I realized that I’d left out something very important that I know. Which is not too surprising, all things considered (see above).

And so I’m glad I have this spot here to add another truth, to share this I know as well:

That writers appreciate their readers. Not because they need reviews or want people to buy their books, though of course, either of those are nice. And not even because of lovely comments or the occasional thank-you note or email, though those are certainly swell, too. But mostly, writers appreciate readers because…well, I guess it’s sort of like this quote from The Velveteen Rabbit:

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

Readers give writers validation. Readers make us real. And so thank you to all the readers who make me a real writer. Even when my efforts are less than stellar due to extenuating circumstances (see above).

Ghost in the House

black-and-white-blur-close-up-237205I’m pretty sure my house is haunted. And I’m pretty sure I know exactly who is haunting it.

As ghosts go, Mister Man is not so bad. He doesn’t move stuff around or make lights flicker on or off. He doesn’t show up very often, and when he does, he’s pretty subtle. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I’m the only one who hears him.

So last week, I had a flooding-in-the-basement issue. And sure enough, Mister Man started yelling. “Cathy!” he hollered. “It’s time to move! Find a nice, cozy place, okay?”

But when I told the Junior Halls–any Junior Hall, I’m not picky– that I wanted to get a Tiny House and park it in their backyard because their father was haunting me and wanted me to move, they implied that I was crazy. “Besides,” said practical daughter, “a tiny house can still have problems.”

That’s true, I guess, but in a tiny house, I’d know immediately when they happened. Which brings me to my post over at the Muffin, “October Scare (Or Recognizing the Blessing in Disguise).”

Anyway, the basement’s dry now and Mister Man’s gone quiet on getting me to move. So I’ve got a few financial matters I’ve been putting off and it’s time to sit down at the desk and tackle them.  But first, humor me. Am I the only one hearing that yelling?

 

College Confessions

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Present Day confession: I take books to the beach and never get around to reading ’em.

Here’s true confession number one: I was that college student that other college students despised. The one who ruined the curve for everybody else.

Yeah, I’d look around with the rest of the Bio class, grumbling under my breath about that jerk of a student who didn’t miss a single question on the mid-term, knowing that I was that jerk. One has to keep that sort of thing on the down low but here’s confession number two: I had a natural aptitude for memorization. Which unfortunately didn’t help me much when it came to the business classes I had to take.

Sadly, I didn’t know that my super power wouldn’t be much use. I waltzed into a 300 level business course of about 30 guys, thinking no worries. I had mad memory skills, plus I knew a couple of these guys (translation: had dated ’em or were dating ’em) and honestly, I wondered if they’d ever figure out how to run a washing machine much less pass a business class.

So we had to write up these cases. Well, writing was my jam! And we had to apply some kind of business principles to each case. A sort of What Would You Do in the business world. I listened to the lectures, I read the book, I wrote a scathingly brilliant paper.

So you can imagine my surprise when I saw a C on that paper. And across the aisle, on Jake’s (recall that I “knew” this guy) paper, was an A. And worse, Jake had maybe four sentences on his paper. Thus began my mission to show that professor what was what (or more specifically that I was an “A” student, thank you very much). Except (true confession number three) that try as I might, I could not get any better than a B+ on any case. While Jake sat over there, raking in the As with his pithy paragraphs of a case he wrote on the way to class.

Jake, the business major, just understood business, he said.

Maybe he did. Maybe Jake’s running a conglomerate now. Probably just buys new shirts when he needs something clean.

All this to say that I have rather negative feelings about business or anything business-related. But when I saw Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I thought business be damned (because I could just tell this was some sort of business book without even opening it. It just had that smell about it) because the subtitle read: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change.

Okay, then. I started reading it. And if you want to know how it inspired my latest WOW! post at the Muffin, take a look at “On Writing: From Dependence to Interdependence.” I’d give it at least a B+.