It’s been a long week. Last weekend, I was the Best Man in Jeremy’s wedding (it was a lovely wedding, he and Amber lit up whatever room they were in). I had as nice a time as is possible to have while wearing a tuxedo. There are many pictures of me bringing down the side of well-groomed men, because while everyone had lovely haircuts and things…my shaggy mess of hair was terrifying, AND I forgot to shave that morning. AND it rained, so the humidity in the air made my hair slowly grow more and more alarming, until it looked like something that would sneak off in the night and raid the henhouse. I looked like a homeless person in a suit. (My wife, who was a bridesmaid, decided to show me up by looking fantastic the whole time ; she’s always pulling stunts like that).
Anyway! Long week catching up on school, following a couple long weeks. Now that Zach is a footloose mobile human being, most of my time is spent hunched over, running after a two-foot-tall human being who is off to endlessly cause trouble.
Somewhere in the past two or three weeks, my novel, The Neon God broke, and I can tell you that that brought me down. Not least because this is the eighteenth or so draft I’ve done of that novel since the year 2000. 18 drafts, all of at least 25,000 words. It’s depressing. I knew what was wrong, and I have a HUGE pile of ideas on how to start again and get it right. And I’ve been dutifully writing notes. I decided that perhaps my writing ideas and my writing needs were no longer being met by my writing skills, my writing approach, you see what I mean? The way I write hasn’t basically changed since I started. It hasn’t needed to. But now, I need to build better structural support for my buildings. I needed new methods. So I’ve begun building a foundation for my novel: a layer of character articles and outlines and world history and science and things, me just pouring out everything I think about the novel onto paper and into articles, trying to build so sturdy a layer that then I can write the novel.
(And an aside, and a question for you: How do YOU outline a novel, if you do? What’s your method? I’ve never previously done it, and while I have a basic method I’m content to use, I’m curious what other people do. So what do you do?)
Except…I haven’t even written notes much. Mostly, I’ve been tired and distracted and, let’s be honest, a wee bit cranky without knowing why (except the obvious reason, which is that I’m ALWAYS on edge and cranky and miserable when I go too long without writing fiction. I need it, or I get the shakes.)
What has all this got in common? How do I tie together these unrelated paragraphs of griping?
Well, I got to wondering if my home isn’t helping me any. It’s been so busy, you see, and Zach is such a handful, that the place is a mess, an absolute terrifying mess. It took ages for me to get some dishes done. THe kitchen still isn’t tidy. Never you mind the bedroom and our closet. The dining room table, where I have to do my work (because I can keep an eye on Zach’s roaming from there) was piled hugely high with stuff stuff stuff…
…cluttered home, cluttered desk, cluttered mind. If that’s not an adage, it probably should be.
My office is lovely-clean, but I never get to go work in there, because it’s a small shut-off room and I can’t watch Zach.
So today, I cleaned the dining room table. It took work, but I got it done. And you know what, it did actually help (and realizing that it helped inspired me to write this). And so I’ve turned my eye toward the rest of the apartment.
I bet you if I got everything clean, if I got all the extraneous junk and clutter that we have collected out of our lives, I’d write happier, I’d live easier. Both myself and my wife would be less stressed. Any time we’ve really pushed and gotten a decent area cleaned in the house, it’s always felt wonderful and relaxing.
(This is hardly a new idea, or a new principal, and certainly it’s not me originating anything at all. Any Buddhist Monk worth his salt would say the gentle, humorous Buddhist equivalent of “Duhhhh, Pete…”)
So, I’ll see what happens (and I’ll update it here, for those who are riveted by the idea of Pete Cleans Home! which probably means you don’t have any good cable channels). I want to get the house cleaned. Everything in its place and fufilling its function means, in theory, that clutter doesn’t have to build up. And if I can clean out the boxes of to-be-sorted stuff filling up a big closet, AND a storage room, AND the nooks and crannies…and if I can finish babyproofing, I can get rid of the jumbling clutter which is the jury-rigged babyproofed system we have now.
Who knows. Maybe it’ll help.
Of course, it might ALSO just me finding something big and time-consuming to avoid writing. That’s crossed my mind too. So we’ll see.