The Glamorous Writing Life

One of my blogging/Twitter writer friends, Natalia Sylvester, and I joke about the glamorous writing life—you know the one we all have in all our free time, lounging around and writing in our PJs…eating bonbons, that one. Sometimes I think about that life these days—when I’m deep in a project like I have been recently, because then….

The house goes down the tubes—as the expression goes—like it always does during one of my intense writing sprees. As I worked steadily at the dining room table, toward the final draft of my WIP, each and every one of the other surfaces in the house eventually got covered.

The kitchen table: by whatever came into the house (oh that was also MEH’s—My Engineer Husband’s chosen work at home spot, quite possibly because I’d consumed every other spot). The office “home desk” is covered with bills and incoming mail; my desk in the office is covered with various other writing and research projects. Yet another, a table we use for games, still has a half-finished and very dusty jigsaw puzzle left from my daughter’s last visit home.

This weekend, as I de-cluttered the dining room table and loaded up a file box with all my notes and research folders and everything else from the finished novel, I started cleaning up a little, too. Because when I stopped writing so intensely, I noticed the house was an abject mess. Let me just say, I could never be described as a neat freak…. but I also do not like an overly messy but especially not an overly dirty house. I hate that. Nonetheless, that’s what I have.

It’s one of the (very) few luxuries about having an empty nest: not worrying too much (if at all) about the house being remotely clean. (Don’t ask me about the other luxuries, I don’t write that kind of blog.) We don’t entertain a whole lot; if we see friends we usually meet them somewhere else. That means no one really comes in and out of the house except us. Used to be our kids’ friends’ parents would drop by to pick up their kids from play dates and gasp at the drifting dog hair. In truth this never actually happened at my house but once I picked up my daughter at a friend’s house and was truly shocked, truly, by the large quantities of dog hair drifting by—something I’ve thought of once or twice or every hour as I pondered the near-ankle-deep dog hair in my own dining room. When you have a black lab, like we do, especially in the spring these things happen, or that’s what I told myself…

On Saturday a Furminatorarrived in the mail. (If you don’t know what a Furminator is and you have a dog that sheds, especially a dark coloreddog, you should definitely check it out because “unbelievable results” does not begin to describe this dog brush.) Okay, this is pretty embarrassing…but here goes: we bought ours on rush order by direct instruction from our vet; last week she tested Abby for hypothyroidism because she (the dog, not the vet) had gained some weight and her fur looked “uneven and unkempt,” something that might indicate her thyroid is out of whack. It wasn’t—out of whack—it was because we didn’t have time to brush our dog (and were giving her too many peanut butter treats). The vet called to give me, as she said, the good and the bad news… “Her results are normal. Here’s what I want you to do. No more peanut butter treats and buy a Furminator.” We bought.

But it wasn’t just the dog hair. Laundry was piling up. A lot of it. In fact yesterday when I sorted it all out on the kitchen floor, there were ten loads in all. Don’t judge too harshly. Six of the ten loads were sheets and towels—the kids are coming home and we’re preparing. But it wasn’t even just the laundry.

Every spice I’d used in the last month or so (maybe even since the new year started) was out on the kitchen counter, and I use a lot of spices…. And even the sprinkles I used on MEH’s April Fool’s Day birthday cake had not been put away. To be fair to myself (and MEH, who pulls half the cleaning duties in the house), we did do the basics: washed dishes, loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, took out the trash, washed and wore clean clothes (most days), fed and walked the dog, wiped up spills on the stove, occasionally (very) swept the dried up mud out of the mudroom. But beyond the basics? Not a lot.

And there was a lot to be done. So yesterday I did some cleaning—not all of it but I got a good start—and I’ll admit I feel a lot better: the spices and sprinkles are back in the cabinet, the counter’s cleared off, the jigsaw’s still there (and will be until my daughter is home next month…who knows, maybe she’ll still want to do it…yeah, that’s it) but the rest of the tables got cleared off. We vacuumed the drifts of dog hair in the dining room. Oh, and we “furminated” Abby.

Last night I literally gasped with pleasure as I slid between our clean sheets (nothing more about that! Remember? Not that kind of blog…). This morning I woke up and saw only three loads of laundry lingering on the kitchen floor. Another gasp. And then I knew it was true… I really do lead the glamorous writer’s life.

Today as I sit down to start anew, the fresh and shiny WIP awaiting me on the cleared-off kitchen table, I’ll happily watch the dog hair build around me, the spices congregate on the counter, and the tables fill one by one…. Because in truth, there is no other life I’d pick over this one, not one.

Cheers,

Julia



Comments

  1. Love it, Julia! And, yes, it is ever so glamorous. :)

  2. CMSmith says:

    I love it.

  3. Julia, why am I not at all surprised that I’m going through something very similar?! :) I just finished edits on my latest WIP on Friday and the first thing we did was spring cleaning, because the house was a TOTAL mess. It’d gotten to the point that I’d stopped writing at my desk or on the kitchen table like I normally do, because they’d gotten so cluttered that I couldn’t clear my head. I ended up doing the last stretch of these revisions in my bed at night (which I guess is glamorous in its own way!). And the laundry…it just never ends around here, and we are only two. I don’t even want to think about how bad it’ll get the day we start a family.

    Thanks so much for the shout-out, and for reminding me that I need a furminator, too! I saw a commercial for it several months ago, and my husband and I were like, “Omg, we need that.” And then we forgot the name of the product. So thank for the reminder!

    • Ah, on the same wavelength once again… of course!! I know what you mean about the clutter being so much you can’t even write at the table. I actually had stuff piled up on top of my OPEN LAPTOP at one point. Not good and also makes writing hard to do! I love your solution to retreat to the bed — very glamorous! Yes, laundry multiplies unbelievably with kids… luckily when they start out they’re very very tiny so you can get a lot into one load and the growth is gradual enough that you don’t really notice until all of a sudden you’re doing laundry five times a day :)

      Let me know what you think of the furminator — I’m not even joking, that thing is so good it’s SCARY!

  4. Ann says:

    I know what you mean! I get that way about lots of things! When I get on a cooking jag (which happens a LOT) the kitchen is a DISASTER and the rest of the house suffers. However, we’re full and sassy – so it’s all good!

    One thing Honey Bunny and I agreed on when we got a dog….no shedding breeds! – but labs are adorable!

    When you’re done with your house – come on over to mine. If you clean, I GUARANTEE I’ll feed you!

    • You’re right, what Abby loses in fur she makes up for in cutes and sweetness… still, that dog hair is the pits! Glad you understand about the house being a disaster when I’m busy, and I’m ready for an extended visit if you cook for me after I clean. What a deal! :)

  5. My house is actually clean right now and that’s not a good thing. It means I’m in a writing slump. Time to let those dust bunnies multiply!

    • I know what you mean… when my house is clean it either means company is coming or I’ve got too much time on my hands — or for me it sometimes means I’m stressed out (I clean a lot when I’m stressed out!). Sorry about the writing slump… hope the bunnies multiply soon! :)

  6. Ha. This is so apropos for me … as you know, I’ve been thick in the “finish draft” phase, and my house has suffered tremendously, which is why, as we speak, laundry is spinning, and I have a date with the vacuum cleaner later today. I think an untidy house is the sign of serious writing progress being made (and thank goodness, my husband looks around and says, “What? It’s not dirty.”) For me, though, what seems to fill all of my flat surfaces more than anything is Arizona dust. I don’t want to think about the last time I actually DUSTED the house. And, besides .. such a futile task anyway : -). Great post. Loved your last lines.

    • I’m glad you brought up your husband… MEH is the same way: couldn’t care less — and better yet tells me to let it go (his words are “what’s the point?”). It’s great to have that support. That dust sounds intense; I forgot about that southwest phenomenon. As for dusting, I agree, cannot remember the last time I did it. And again, I agree: futile. Glad you enjoyed and can relate, Melissa! And thanks for the compliment! :)

  7. Haha! Catching up on laundry and cleaning right now; I still have kids at home and always figured I’d have a clean house in about 11 years. But now that I’m writing, this may not be true. Shoot, I can’t blame them either when that day comes.

    • The one thing about the kids being out of the house is that if we aren’t too busy then by and large it’s tidier… especially when I’m home alone when my husband is at work… if I’m not writing. And it’s also easier to get it “picked up.” But honestly? Where’s the fun in that? I’d take the messy kid projects any day! Enjoy! :)

  8. Lisa says:

    I love your life. I really do.

  9. I tell you whose life I really envy? Abby’s. She just sprawls at your feet and is tossed peanut butter treats if she so much as twitches a muscle. She is groomed without lifting a paw and cannot help clean the house or do the laundry. Yes, her life is good. But I do agree that this writing life is pretty stinkin’ fun! Congrats on a shiny house and a shiny WIP!

    • Yes, I have many a time envied Abby’s life… she’s a good old dog and she earned it, but still! Good point, Jolina!! Dog’s life first, baby’s second, writing life third :)

  10. Ah! This is lovely Julia, and so nice to see it’s not just me who lets the housey jobs fall by the wayside when the muse is being productive. We have the ‘dog hair’ problem to. I find myself racing past, grabbing and handful, chucking it in the bin and thinking ‘that will have to do’! In fact, I have been having a bit of a ‘fettle’ (a Yorkshire phrase for cleaning) today and tidied up a bit. It was a nice feeling! Glad you’re getting on top of things… and so glad you weren’t tempted to make it ‘that kind of blog’ (hee hee!) x

    • Interesting… we have an expression here “in a fine fettle” — to be healthy and working well — same thing? Or similar origins? Yes, the housey jobs always have and always will fall by the wayside. As MEH says: life’s too short! As for dog hair — I thought super short hairs wouldn’t have that problem, better get the furminator! :)

  11. Okay, I’m here to tell you…mentioning gasping with pleasure, in the same sentence with the word ‘sheets’ will probably get you some weird and fun search terms this week. Just sayin’. LOL!

    This post made me feel very good, Julia, and I kinda love you for being so honest. This is what it’s like to work so hard on something that’s totally absorbing. The home DOES go down the tubes. When you mentioned the spices on the counter tops I thought of my own. I TRY (God knows I do) but there simply isn’t enough time in the day!
    GREAT post. :-)

    • I’ll let you know how many of THOSE searches I get 😉 Glad to provide the honesty — pretty easy to do since I don’t see anyone beating a path to Julian’s (or my) door! As you say, just not enough time in the day — glad you enjoyed my take on my disorder :-)

  12. Nancy Kelley says:

    I’ve decided that once I have the money, the very first luxury I’m allowing myself is a weekly maid service. I am a natural cluttered person, and I just can’t keep things neat. Clean I can do, mostly… as long as I’m not working two jobs.

    So basically, my house will be a disaster until I can quit my day job.

    • I always think about a cleaning service… but then I immediately balance it with my intense need for privacy… so ultimately I’d probably still put up with the dirty house, regardless of my wealth level! And that’s okay with me. Most of the time it’s just fine to have a dirty house as long as I feel productive! You?

    • Nancy Kelley says:

      I have a hard time feeling productive if my house is a mess. I can write 5K in a day, but if I turn around and see a pile of clean laundry on my chair, I sigh and wish there were more hours in a day.

      Oh! Maybe I’ll just send my laundry out to be done. Can you still do that?

  13. Aw, such a good post :) It all depends on your definition of glamorous!

  14. antiwrite says:

    Ah yes – the first sign that I have been writing a lot is not the word count, it’s the unexpected and very unwelcome sight of myself in a passing mirror, when I realize I haven’t brushed my hair in a few days and I’m wearing yesterday’s socks. Then I trip over the pile of washing that I ‘rested’ on the floor before I was going to deal with it (last week). That’s usually when I remember that the anti-zen is not actually good for good mental health, even if the word count has gone up while my life has turned feral! Yep, writing is so glamorous…

    • I know exactly what you mean about the unbrushed hair and wearing yesterday’s socks… today’s especially a good day because I forgot to put on socks altogether and haven’t been near a mirror at all :) So happy you can relate; cheers to the glamorous lives we lead!

  15. ugh…my life is so absurd right now that I’ve found myself reverting to my old uptight neat freak ways…maybe an attempt to keep order in chaos? but WIP is suffering…wishing for messy house and more words. :(

    • I can relate to the flipside you’re going through, too, Stephanie… the more out of control I feel, the cleaner my house often gets. I know exactly what that feels like–and it’s when the WIP is the last thing on the list…. sorry, but I bet before you know it you too will be appreciating the laundry piles and drifting dog hair… here’s hoping!

  16. I totally relate, Julia. And I admit to chuckling every time you said this wasn’t “that kind of blog.” lol < ---just did it again When I lived alone in Seattle when I was in my early 20s, I did the basic cleaning, but the major stuff went undone for ages and ages. I think I’d go nutty these days if I lived like that, 😉

    • It is true, isn’t it that the younger days seem to allow toleration of such things… or probably that there are more important things to focus on. I think back on the crazy way we used to live pre-houseownership and pre-kids… wow, a very different world back then, as you say. (p.s. glad to give you a chuckle!)

  17. Lisa Ahn says:

    I love this Julia — a perfect description of the mess that accumulates when writing takes over. I can’t wait to read the book that led to those piles of laundry, spices, and dog fur. (We have a Furminator too, for Mocha. Best. Brush. EVER.)

    • Glad you enjoyed Lisa–and that you understand! I hope you’ll get to read the book someday… do you think this post should go into the acknowledgments? :) p.s. we’re still marveling at the furminator; does the amount brushed out ever get reduced? I keep being amazed at how much she’d be shedding on the floor!

  18. Erika Marks says:

    Oh Julia, we are peas in a (laundry-filled) pod. I have so many of those “piles” and it seems with every reached deadline, they grow instead of diminish. When people ask where I find the time to write, I confess that I am a lousy housekeeper and I think that explains a lot. Thanks for reminding me I’m not alone, my friend!

    • Nice to meet another lousy housekeeper! Thank goodness we have our priorities straight. No matter what, housework is at the very bottom of the list! And writing is right up there toward the top, always! Here’s to peas in a laundry-filled pod!! Love that! :)

  19. I’m the same way when I get involved in a project. Only mine usually involves food in some way shape or form and lands me with an entire kitchen that looks like an atomic bomb went off in it!

    • Haha, I can only imagine how those kitchen projects can do a number on the house…eeek!… Have you ever written a blog post about what that looks like with photos? Kind of a behind the scenes of the food blogger’s kitchen? That would be pretty cool!

  20. You ARE so glamourous, Julia! We’ll have to trade stories. Mine would be about the time I had to unstop the toilet with the plunger. How fabulous I am!

    Seriously though…the furminator works?

    How is your WIP going? I’m starting to query agents!

    • Okay, you have me beat… no toilet plunging here, although… I should knock on wood :-)

      YES the Furminator is AMAZING. I think they have ones for different fur lengths. For the short hair dog, I have never seen a better or more gentle brush. And no I don’t get royalties (I wish).

      And, apparently we’re twinsies! (I’m starting to query too!!!)

  21. Oh, boy, do I know how this goes! I get so behind when I’m doing revisions, too. It’s just so hard to make myself dust when there’s a book to be edited.

    • I’m cringing at the word “dust,” thinking how long it’s been… thank goodness for the quick-clean methods I’ve developed over the years to simply make things look surface clean :) Here’s to happy and productive editing and writing days (and a dusty house!). Thanks for your comment and your visit to my blog!

  22. Every writer can identify with that…also the guilt that comes when people drop over. “Why does is her house a wreck? What does she do all day?” My house is pretty straight at moment because I entertained some girlfriends yesterday afternoon. But I’m doing an interview this morning to start a feature with a quick turnaround, I know the house will be going down hill fast. Glad the writing is going well.

    • You’re so lucky that you had visitors — and not just because they were your girlfriends! I mean, house clean enough for guests? I’m so envious!! Haha. I love how we can predict when the house will go down the tubes based on workload! Here’s to messy houses and productive writing! Would love to see the feature — will it be online? (p.s. yes, the guilt… exactly how I feel: “what DOES she do all day??”)

  23. Beautiful post! I now feel out of the closet and legitimate, and I didn’t even make the confessions myself! ;~)

    Like you, we don’t have a lot of through-traffic. My kid and grandkid live in another state, we’re “camping” (for 3.5 years so far) in a city we don’t belong in, and I’ve only thrown one dinner party the entire time we’ve been here.

    The only one I feel guilty in front of is Brian. But he doesn’t often keep me to a higher standard. As long as the Undy Fairy comes nearly every day (she does, and she also delivers clean socks) he’s pretty cool. Occasionally he can’t stand it anymore, though, and gets out the vacuum cleaner or the broom. That’s when I do guilt management and go back to my writing. After all, I work just as hard as he does (I just get paid a whole lot less, lol).

    Loved your pic of the loaded washing machine right underneath the title promise of “The Glamorous Writing Life.” I was so pleased to find out I don’t have to change a thing I’m already doing. What a lovely way to start my Friday (where I’m intending to stay as glamorous as I already am) ;~)

    • Here’s to all of us leading the glamorous writer’s life! I have to admit, MEH and I cleaned this weekend… actually put lots and lots of things away and dusted and vacuumed. It is glorious to be living in a clean(er) house, but I know once I hunker down and really start writing again, it’s back to the glamorous state again! 😉

  24. Leah says:

    Great post! I truly think my house has become worse off since I started working from home. Probably because I actually work more than ever before. I always think, “Oh, I’ll be home tomorrow. I’ll do the dishes then.” And what happens? Yep, they don’t get done. Another day passes.

    • I know what you mean, Leah… I think there’s something to leaving the house (and knowing you need to return in it’s same state) that inspires/requires cleaning. Working at home makes it just seem like one long day… as you (and I and Scarlett O’Hara said): I’ll think about that tomorrow! 😉

  25. Julia, I envy your clean(er) house! Our condo is a mess. We’ve been trying to clean out the baby’s room – and we’re getting there. I recycled lots of paper (LOTS!) and organized my magazines and story notes. But I still don’t know where to put office supplies, books, etc. It’s overwhelming! It seems like you chipped away to clean your house – a little bit each day, right? I need to get on that.

    • Believe me, we have a long long LONG way to go… and I’m about 20 years ahead of you in the accumulation of stuff… so I feel your pain. I think once you have your baby you’ll care less (I did) because you’ll have much more fun and important things to concentrate on :) Nonetheless, the clutter truly is overwhelming at times, and I’m with you, one of the very biggest problems is where to put everything! I think I have a solution for us… you’ll be distracted by your sweet baby, and I’ll immerse myself in writing another book to distract me!!