Thursday, March 4, 2010

Housecleaning, Yard Work, and Manuscript Revisions

Once every two weeks the young woman who helps me keep my cleaning chores under control stops by for 90 minutes to do those tasks my old knees and achy shoulders find a little too difficult (or painful). Since I love to have the whole house cleaned at one time, I choose to spend two to three hours that same day doing my own part. I do the easy stuff like cleaning the sinks and dusting. My helper does the tough stuff like running the sweeper and getting down on her hands and knees to clean the kitchen and bathroom floors.

I do my part early in the day, then hide out in my little office while the rest of the work gets done.

In spite of this most efficient method, there are a few things that have been neglected over the last year while I worked on a new book. For one thing, my windows are dirty. We have a two-story house, so in the past we've removed the sliding windows ourselves and cleaned them inside. I'm seriously thinking of hiring a window-cleaning service this year.

In my little office, the filing has piled up and I have stacks of paper to be shredded. I need to get this clean-up done quickly because my granddaughter will probably be sleeping in here when they visit at the end of the month.

I also need to move some breakables and relocate cleaning supplies since the little darling is crawling and may be walking soon. And the oven needs cleaning.

I've postponed furniture shopping all winter because of the lousy weather, but I need two chairs and a dresser, plus some baby furniture.

The screen in the front door is torn and needs replacing.

The flower beds at the front of the house are an untidy mess of turned over pots, dead plants, strong evidence a wandering cat still uses my flower bed as a litter box, the dead lavender spikes that need clipping, and the spring growth of my crocus, tulip, and daffodil bulbs.

Even though snow has melted near the house, my garden area is still covered with at least 6 inches of snow and ice, as are parts of the front yard.

I still haven't pruned my grape vines.

And my husband's office space is a total disaster. He's an electronics freak so he has toys and wires and boxes and...well, it's a mess. I need to keep his door shut so I can't see it.

All this reminds me of the manuscript I'm currently revising. I still have a few bits of backstory and a couple of historical facts to slip into the story here and there. These must not be intrusive, but they'll help the reader understand the story and the characters.

My writing is tight and heavy on action. There are places I need to expand description of characters and setting. Again, nothing excessive. The idea is to create a recognizable sketch, but let the reader fill in the blanks.

There are a few important details I haven't made clear in the manuscript. The age of my main character. Why the boss bad guy is in Los Angeles instead of Miami. Maybe others. I need to clear that up.

All manageable stuff.

As I read through the manuscript, however, I worry that I'll find something big, something so impossible to fix that I'll have to treat it like I'm treating my husband's workroom.

This is the fear that bogs us down during the revision process. Am I bogged down? I think I have been, because I haven't made much headway so far. Recognizing why is half the battle. Now it's time to just do it. But first, I need to finish the dusting and clean the kitchen sink.


Ann Elle Altman said...

I totally understand your dilema, I'm stuck in a house that needs so much work done and can never find the time.

My husband is a geek too and can work in an office space that looks like a tornado comes through regularly.

My WIP is a disaster but I can't find the mental space to work...

Ugh, and the earthquake in Chile has shortened my day!

No! I need more time in a day, not less.

Sorry to rant...I should have just wrote 'I understand...'


Patricia Stoltey said...

Well, Ann, any post about housework and messy husbands and blogging, etc. is an invitation to rant. We're all in the same boat, and sometimes it feels as though the boat is sinking...

Pontificatious Marv said...

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step."

Okay, I know that was a weak, overused, lame bit of plagiarism, but hey - it's true, and it works for me. (wink)

Jan Morrison said...

My office got so bad last year that I blogged about it with pictures forcing me into taking care of it. Very satisfying. I have running lists of things to do and I have fallen prey to the eroneous belief that if I leave it out I will get to it! Wrong, so wrong on so many counts.
But I also know when I get to revising this wip - I will magically want to clean the WHOLE house first. I will.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I have the same fear when I go through my revision process – so now I’ve become an expert when it comes to procrastination. Good luck.

Karen Walker said...

Oh, Patricia, I feel your pain. Just try to break it into manageable portions, maybe. Looking at the whole can be overwhelming.

Jemi Fraser said...

I fear the same thing. I worry about the ms I've got marinating. What if I go back into it & find there's a major issue? Aaahhhh!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Karen, you're right. One thing at a time. Now it becomes a matter of which task comes first. I chose to put together my new laptop stand so my desk would be clear so I could work on some of the manuscript using hard copies of the pages. Now I'm exhausted (even though my hubby came in and tightened all the things that needed tightening.

Jemi -- If I find a major issue now, I have to cancel that agent pitch appointment at the conference on March 27th. The good thing about that? -- I could procrastinate until the next conference in September. :)

Rinkly Rimes said...

I know the feeling! When I'm writing I feel I should be dusting! When I'm dusting I get a great urge to write. My mother used to call it 'too many minds to go mad'! I hope your block becomes unblocked soon!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I'm doing a housekeeping post, week.

I feel like I've got SO much spring cleaning to you, I think I'm going to have to call for back-up (cleaning lady.)

I'm revising now, too, and feel like my manuscript isn't up to par. I think it's a universal feeling during revisions.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Anonymous said...

Got a cleaning lady and will never let her go. It's one of my best investments.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I'm green with envy. I'd love to have a cleaning lady come in once every two weeks. And, are windows supposed to be cleaned once a year? ;) Yeah, I need a window cleaner. I moved my office from one room to another last weekend and was able to clean up a great deal of those nagging little things I'd been ignoring. Now to keep the clean office...clean. Great post.