This morning I've been working on critiques to the sound of men talking about everything from where to get a good sandwich to the Charlie Sheen interview on TV. Punctuate that with a very squeeeaaky paint roller, the metallic creaks and clacks of boots on ladders, and the scent of fresh paint, and you have my morning.
We're planning to move. Not far, just to a different neighborhood. So we're having some work done on the house to get it ready to sell. And in the middle of it all, I've been packing. Clearing out closets to be painted. Donating stuff we don't want or need anymore. Putting our extraneous clutter into a storage unit, so the house will look clean and fresh and more spacious for showing.
All this has taken a lot of time away from my writing. That's okay, though. Although I'm compulsively creative, and need to make something every day in order to feel right with the world, sometimes it doesn't matter what that something is. I've never been one of those writers who must write every day. When I'm in a good place with a project, I have decent self-discipline, and will sit down and produce. Other times, I can go months without writing, and put my energies into something else. I always return to the writing. At best, I get some distance from my project. At worst, I have an excuse for procrastinating. This is the beauty of working without externally imposed deadlines.
So in the middle of all this chaos, what lessons can I take that I can apply to writing?
Editing is good. Whether it's your coat closet or your book, get rid of the stuff you don't need. I know we all know this, but a reminder never hurts.
Sometimes you need a change. It may be as small as a fresh coat of paint, or as significant as a new office window overlooking a new neighborhood.
Eavesdropping is fun. Most of the conversation in the background of my world today has been about what to do when, the order in which they're going to do things. Ceiling first in the living room. Drywall taping in the hall. In between, the dangers of cigarettes and too much diet soda.
Earplugs are useful. I got this one from Sarah. She wore them on one of our trips to a conference, and wasn't awakened at all by the noise in the hall of our hotel. I took a page from her book and used some this morning when I was trying to read and critique through all the background noise. Entertaining as eavesdropping is, it doesn't get the critiques done.
Mostly right now, I'm grateful that my office is one part of the house that doesn't need work. Yes, I cleaned out the closet in here too, but at least I can be in here and not feel like I'm getting in anyone's way. It's an odd feeling to be in some stranger's way in your own house.