Monday, 15 August 2011

The Great Clean

Bollocks. I keep beginning to write a post, get distracted, and lose my thread.

I've been, since my return from the south a week or so ago, trying to remove the stale smell of thousands of layers of our, and probably other creatures, excretions from the house. Shampooing the upholstery and carpets, vacuuming and washing down the walls, scrubbing the paintwork, bicarb sprinkling and turning the mattresses, beating the rugs...

On and on it goes. Today I tried to lift a carton of yogurt from a shelf in the fridge and it was so glued with spilt-goodnessknowswhat that it burst all over my fingers. And I realised I had only cleaned the fridge once this year. What sort of woman am I?

From now on I will keep an eye on spillage and take a damp cloth to the fridge, amongst other things, weekly. And wipe down the open shelves in the kitchen more often too, yikes they were sticky.

Maybe if I get myself a proper routine I'll transform into the type of woman who can keep chickens. Super fresh eggs would be marvellous.

But the thing that would be the most marvellous would be having no excuse whatsoever to not get on with my manuscript, which is probably what this is all about. I pick it up, read, flinch, scratch out whole lines and ponder replacements. And then I begin to notice the dust on my desk, or a leaf on the floor trampled in from a fag break in the garden. Or I feel suddenly hungry and go to the fridge.

Perhaps I'm not ready for the rewrite, the greatest of great cleans.


Meri said...

Oh -- groan!!! I see myself in your mirror. I more often clean the fridge, but it's all a ruse to keep from doing the real work. Is there a support group for us?

The Weaver of Grass said...

Do I recognise myself in these rambling - yes, I am afraid I do. It happens to us all Eryl - don't let it put you off getting on with that writing. Sod the dust on the shelf. You know what someone said (was it Questin Crisp?) thay after four years the dust doesn't get any worse.

The Pollinatrix said...

What kind of woman are you? The same kind as me, I know that much! But since I live in a dustbowl now, and have no fridge, and limited water, and can only use biocompatible cleaning products, I've given up all attempts to clean beyond the daily surface stuff. Interestingly, though, I've gotten much better about doing that daily cleaning, and have actually been enjoying it.

But then again, I have no electricity, so doing anything on a computer is out of the question, and the pressure to write is off.

As for the cleaning-instead-of-writing issue, I recommend simply thinking of it as "pre-writing."

Anonymous said...

"Übersprungshandlung", displacement activity ... near a deadline I have a very clean kitchen. It goes downhill in the last twentyfour to thirty hours (fuggidat stain, more coffee!), and when all is corrected, edited, re-read, sent I do not care anymore for the kitchen. Maybe after the breakdown, two weeks before deadline ...

Eryl said...

Meri ~ knowing I'm not the only one is great. This is like a pop-up support group, right here.

Weaver ~ you're right, I know it. This always happens to me at the beginning of a period real hard work.

Polli ~ pre-writing it is, thanks for that. I have to say your current living arrangements sound incredibly attractive. I hope you're storing it all up for a book, I'll buy it for myself and all my friends.

Mago ~ you have it nailed.

savannah said...

i'm taking a zen approach, sugar. whatever that means... xoxoxoxox

p.s. i DID clean out the fridge after answering your survey!

Lulu LaBonne said...

I have had a large squid nestling in the bottom of my fridge, so a clean would be wise ... but there's something shiny outside and I really must email my sister xxx

nick said...

It's funny how those little domestic details that normally escape one's attention suddenly become amazingly visible as soon as writing has to be done. Except in my case I don't actually do anything about the dust or the leaf or the grease mark on the table, I just think, Ah yes I must deal with those later....

And then nothing whatever happens until Guests Are Due.

rebecca said...

chickens are great for helping with that old food in the fridge.
but will they encourage you to get on with the rewrite?
remains to be seen, but always worth the fresh eggs!

Scarlet Blue said...

Not such a bad thing to do... you're just getting rid of all the dust distractions before getting down to the main event, which may take some time - clearing the decks, so to speak.
Good luck, Eryl!

WV: later

Linnhe Mara said...

Cleaning, arranging, tea drinking, coffee making. Definitely distractions, delaying tactics that must be avoided at all costs. A tidy house is the sign of a wasted life ( that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it, but not literally, it never gets that bad)

...and for pity's sake avoid the chickens!

Eryl said...

Savannah ~ I will follow your lead, XXXXX

Nick ~ how I admire your ability to carry on in the face of dust and smears.

Rebecca ~ I've heard that fresh eggs are good for the brain.

Scarlet ~ thank you, for your understanding and wishes. X

Linnhe ~ do you know something about chickens I don't?

The Unbearable Banishment said...

What sort of woman am I? Well, you sound perfectly normal to me, if you're really asking. Or is that rhetorical? And if you think things are untidy now, wait until you have a few chickens underfoot.

(Florida) Girl said...

I hear you, sister. Rewriting can feel like an endless chore that is never really done. Just like my house.

Stopping by from shewrites today!

Pat said...

If you find the thread let me know - it might be attached to mine - forever going walkabout.
Dettol sprays are reassuring to have around the house. I think they kill 99.9% of all known germs and I've just ordered a mattress spray which deals with other nasties. Which I pray I don't have.

I am doing the thirty day thing where you do 30 minutes - or longer - on one particular subject (synopsis in my case) and the last two days - with a guest in the house, have faltered but have just realised the 30 days were up on the 11th. Hooray!

Eryl said...

UB ~ the question's kind of half rhetorical, and probably half a plea to be told I am normal. So thank you.

Florida Girl ~ lovely to be heard, thanks for coming by.

Pat ~ oh, that must be quite a relief. Was it worth the doing, do you think?

I suspect the only thing that could deal with the nasties of my mattress – which we bought second hand as a temporary measure, twenty years ago – is a bonfire.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Do you know how many times in my life I have said, "From now on" compared to how many times I ignored it LAUGHING!

I'm in a cleaning organizing mood and will soon be kicking arse around the little log house - kicking dust arse, clutter arse, something in the bottom of the veggie drawer arse .. yeah!

rochambeau said...

Hello beautiful Eryl,
The only person I know who could write so eloquently a post describing writers block turning into a full on cleaning frenzy! You are a funny woman~~

I abhor cleaning. HOWEVER!!! I'll admit, it does feel and look GREAT afterward. Usually I get bullied into it because we have invited guests over.......always a sure bet for finding myself residing in a clean home.

One more thought.
When a person is willing to organize/clean their stuff or get rid of stuff, I think it is an outward sign of an inward state. That they are preparing for a positive change in their life.

Oh happy day to you!!

Eryl said...

Kat ~ there must be something in the air, is it the imminent change in the seasons do you think?

Constance ~ when my sister is due for a visit I clean for a week, as if it's a full time job!

I think you're right, I feel like I'm preparing for something really big: the bathroom is now being gutted, and I've stripped all the wallpaper off the stairwell, hall and landing. New paint sits in big pots awaiting application. Hopefully once it's all done I'll be able to get on with my novel... X

Annie Boreson said...


This is great! I seem to be channeling you. I sit down to write and then miraculously I visualize through three sets of walls the grime on the stove or the dirty feet stain in the tub that needs a swipe or two. It's a problem. Wait a minute...Do people clean their frig out more than once a year?

Kim Ayres said...

I remember when I was at uni, and a friend of mine had the most appallingly dirty kitchen. I could never bring myself to have a tea or coffee, until he had an essay due, and then the kitchen would be spotless :)

LL Cool Joe said...

Just popped over from Scarlet's blog.

I still believe a clean house is a wasted life, and that's why I haven't cleaned out the fridge for years, and my kids are still alive!

Carole said...

Awesome post. While cleaning isn't that fun, it is a wonderful procrastination tool. And it makes a person look absolutely productive at the same time. It is like a win, win, except for the sad little manuscript that is expecting attention.