My house is cleanest when I should be writing

Occasionally Wife Swap accidentally appears on my TV screen. I don’t know how. I think my remote is faulty. Anyway, I’ve noticed that there are two kinds of women on Wife Swap. The Clean Freaks and the Dirty Slatterns.  The Clean Freaks peer into the spaghetti bolognese stained microwaves of the Dirty Slatterns and have a panic attack whilst reaching for the spray and wipe. The Dirty Slatterns walk in the front door of the Clean Freaks home and their hearts sink. No Grazia and Top Model in this household, no time for that, not when there are cushions to plump and floors to mop.

Let me confess. I am a slattern . But I do suffer from episodes of binge-cleaning, similar to the drinking variety but nowhere near as much fun. Even my youngest daughter, Miss E now 4, recognizes the symptoms and has asked me, when I’m frantically trying to do six months worth of a housework in a morning, who’s coming over. Ah yes, she’s already worked out that I only clean out of shame. And of course, every time I have one of these binge attacks, I faithfully promise myself to maintain a clean and morally pure household. Generally, it lasts about a day.

The second form of binge-cleaning is one of my procrastination tools and kicks in when all other forms have lost their edge. You’re reading this, so I’m guessing your familiar with the blog, Twitter, Facebook, email, news online variety of procrastination. It’s pretty similar. I sit down at my computer or to my notebook, pen poised and suddenly remember that fingerprint smear on the shower screen door that simply must be cleaned away. Immediately. And off I go, Windex in hand, telling myself it’s useful thinking time. Sure.

But, sometimes it is. That mindless squirting of Windex somehow lets the imagination roam and the shower screen door is left half-cleaned as I race off to scribble my ideas, that great piece of dialogue or metaphor.  And other times the house is as pristine as my blank piece of paper.

So, this afternoon The Producers of  Wife Swap would be casting me as the Clean Freak my kitchen is so sparkly. The thought of writing my first blog post sent me into a frenzy of polishing. But I faced down my nerves, the fear of the blank screen, of not being good enough and started typing.

I’m always jittery before I sit down to write. Worried the words won’t come, or not come in the right order or are not the right words. The words that other people want to read. I used to think that would go away, that eventually I’d approach my writing with confidence. I’ve come to accept that it’s part of my process and instead have faith that the desire to write will outweigh the fear and I will just go ahead and write anyway. With a side benefit, that if I’m really struggling. sometimes my house gets vacuumed.

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21 thoughts on “My house is cleanest when I should be writing

  1. I loved this one and really related to the Slattern side of things – I’ve been watching ‘Hoarders” and comparing myself favourably with the worst of them – one was a huge woman who had 3000 lbs of rubbish removed, including her bottom false teeth and two very dead cats, which she didn’t even know had gone missing!
    p.s. I must say your house looked immaculate when I visited!
    cheers,
    Marianne

  2. Oh me too. Exactly the same. Our house we own now is tiny compared to the last one which was really the stuff of brain surgeons to expand the family and reduce the house, but the point I’m trying to make is that we don’t have as many parties any more. Hence, the frantic cleaning has really slipped.

    Although the other day we did get a call in the morning that a valuer was coming around at 3 that arvo. Cue cleaning stuff that hadn’t been tended to in I swear, 3 years.

    You’re a fab writer and going off to read some of your other stuff xx Bern

  3. I don’t suffer so much from the cleaning form of procrastination. Mine involves trip to the fridge to see if there’s anything inviting to take my mind off the work that should be done. At the end of a “Work From Home” day I am intimately acquainted with all the contents and condiments in my fridge – sadly the lineup doesn’t change throughout the day.

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