I’m a really good cleaner person.

When I pick up I tend to put things in my pockets. Legos. Coins. Socks. Lint balls.

I also put things on my head. Barrettes. Elastics. Hats. Headphones.

And on my body. Sweatshirts. Towels (around the neck). Belts. Sunglasses.

And sometimes I put things in my mouth. Skittles. Half a pancake. An orange slice (healthy). Bread.

Cam might walk in the room and it will be clean at that point. So very clean.

He’ll look at me and say: Wow.

And I’ll say: Thank you. Yes. I deserve a medal.

And he’ll say: You know you just put the entire room on your person.

And I’ll say: Look around. Have you ever seen this place so spotless.

And he’ll say: What are you going to do now? It’s time for church.

I’ve been thinking about this habit and how maybe I do the same thing with my writing (when I treat it like a gift (or maybe a battle?) and actually do it). When I revise, clean up a manuscript so to speak, I collect a lot of things. Beautiful scenes that have to go. Pages of research that end up not mattering. Entire plot lines that lead to nowhere. It can be painful to cut and carry all these things. Or at the very least, heavy (a lot of sweatshirts and coats lying around these days).

But the beauty of it is that those things aren’t thrown away. They aren’t for nothing. No no no. Instead they go on my body. They go in my pockets. On my head.  And even into my mouth.

I have found that weeks or months or even years later in some cases, those scenes, those hours of research, those unused plot lines have inspired or reappeared or helped me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. When I thought, I don’t know how to solve this writing problem, or I don’t know how to write this scene or I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m going to quit, I’ve been able to reach into my pocket and pull out something that is exactly right.

The moral: Embrace revising. Embrace cutting. Embrace making your manuscript better even if it’s painful. Embrace “time wasted” for the good of the book. And put all those bits and pieces and hours and sweat on your person. You’ll find their place later.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “I’m a really good cleaner person.

  1. Emily W

    This is a beautiful analogy. I really love it.

  2. benschwensch

    HERB and I agree that YOU, ANNDEECANNDEEEEEE are a GENIUS of a writer ! ! !

    My cleaning lady, of many years standing, informed me last week that she’ll be quitting next month. I read the first few lines (without noticing the name on the email, which is how I get my Facebook messages) and thought that she’d given someone my contact info to apply for the job! By the time you wrote that you put things into your pockets, or MOUTH, I realized what this was and ran in to read it to Herb. We BOTH Love. Your. Blogs. Every. Single. One. So. There ! ! !

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