Today I can barely wade through my house. There are toys and papers and crackers and books and small children everywhere. Normally this is fine. Today it is not. In fact, today I went a little crazy which happens sometimes. Ask my husband.
It went like this: I started throwing things.
Here’s why: I was trying to reach the toner for my face (I just learned about toning–next time you see me I’ll look ten years younger) and accidentally knocked a huge bottle of lotion on my toe. This sent me into a rage.
Why do we have so much crap! I yelled as I hauled everything I could grab off the shelf.
Why are there paints and shampoo and wasp poison all in the same area? I cried as papers went flying.
Why is our house a junkyard? I screamed as cotton balls and feminine products got chucked across the room.
The boys stared and the oldest asked Cam, what’s wrong with mom?
and Cam said, just let her be, son. Just let her be.
So for the next fifteen minutes it was on. I cleared out an entire bank of drawers along with three ginormous shelves. Everything strewn on the counters in my kitchen and my chopping island and on the table. A bigger and worser (a really good word) mess than when I started.
But the drawers were spotless!
The shelves pristine!
And I was tired.
I looked at the kitchen and I almost started to cry. I was on the verge of a breakdown.
This kind of thing happens to me. It’s a problem.
I sat on the couch and the boys sat on the couch and one of them asked, what now?
I took a long deep breath, closed my eyes and said, now we get to work.
It’s a sad sad day for the Ellis family.
Unfortunately, this is also how I write.
Let me explain.
I don’t outline. I don’t plan. I don’t do things in an orderly fashion. No no no. That would be way too practical and helpful and better.
Instead, I make messes.
I write and write and write and accumulate and hang onto things and the book grows and grows and grows and grows and that’s good. Books should grow. But then it starts to get a little unwieldy. I can manage it, I tell myself. It’s okay. It will all turn out okay.
But then it keeps growing and growing and things start to get a little out of hand and then suddenly it’s overflowing.The plot lines are criss crossing, the characters have evolved and changed which is good but means I need to change a bunch of things in the beginning but if I change things in the beginning, I’m going to have to change things in the middle and if I change things in the middle, then I have to change the end. And then and then and then and then and then AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
And I have a breakdown.
I sit on the couch and the boys sit on the couch and
and one of them asks, what now?
I take a long deep breath, close my eyes and say, now we get to work.
The process is actually good for me and for the book. It takes a lot of patience and heartache.
Patience because it’s time consuming and frustrating.
Heartache because I’ll have to get rid of things. Like the sponge curlers. Should I send the sponge curlers to goodwill? Or will I use them? I really like sponge curlers because my mom used to put them in my hair every Saturday night right after my bath and when I woke up in the morning I had horribly springy curls for Sunday church. I haven’t put these curlers in my hair for three years when I was little orphan Annie for Halloween. So do I get rid of them? I love them. They remind me of my childhood. Do they belong in my house? My book? Maybe not. But what if I need them later? I’ll probably need them later! What if I have another child and by heavens, it’s a girl? What then? I’ll need these sponge curlers. And plus, they are pink.
But then I realize that I can always buy more sponge curlers. There’s a time and a place for them. They have to go.
Like my final scene in this book I’m finishing up. I was doing some copyediting last night when I realized the scene was too long. I really like the scene, especially the ending but I could feel that I didn’t need it. It had to go. This was painful. And sad. But necessary.
So there you have it. It’s summer ending clean up around here and it is not pretty. If you came over now, you may be tempted to call the Hoarders show and sign me up. However, my hope is, if you come over tomorrow, you’ll never know that such a mess happened here. You’ll wonder if I’m Martha Stewart (which I am, duh!) and you’ll think keeping things in order at my house is a piece of cheesecake.
So for this marathon, I have three projects:
1. A book that needs a major cleaning.
2. A book that needs things donated to Goodwill.
3. A book that needs to be allowed to get messy messy messy messy messy because I can feel that I’m dreading the clean up so much that I’m not letting the story go. Sometimes I have to let the story go in order for it to become what it wants to become. The mess at the end is not something I can avoid (and believe me I’ve tried) so I might as well embrace it.
These are my goals. My marathon starts to day at 5:30 when Cam gets home. I’m tempted to get some caffeine. And chocolate.