Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cleaning Closets: Start Mode for Writing

Quirky Author Lesley A. Diehl

We made our trip north from Florida to our home in Upstate New York without incident.  That was much better than having a cat sick on the road or our car hit by a drunk driver in a motel parking lot.  And we came back to glorious weather, always a problematic issue this early in the season.  We’ve had snow here on May 18.  This year it was in the seventies for the first ten days, and we worked outside redoing our perennial garden and building an addition to our shed.  Things were just humming along.  I should have known it wouldn’t last.


One thing you must know about me is that I have a thing about clean and organized closets.  I leave them in disarray when we leave here in the fall.  They’re filled with stuff I decided to move out of sight during the summer or items I meant to put into the yard sale in July, and, to be honest, all those must haves’ I bought at other yard sales, but couldn’t find room for when I got them home.  I blithely cruise through my winter in Florida, all that closet jumble out of my mind.  Our place in the south is so much smaller than the one in New York that my closets there can hardly hold the necessary items unless everything is in its predetermined place.  So they never get too messy.


So why am I telling you all this?  What’s this compulsion with cleaning closets got to do with writing?  It’s simple.  Unless those closets are neat, clean and organized, I can’t write.  Given the idyllic nature of our trip this year, you’d think I’d be sitting on closets that could star on HGTV.  Not so.  I haven’t even cracked the door on any of them, and we’ve been back for three weeks.


The gods of misfortune have been letting me have it, thinking, I suppose, that having experienced nirvana on the road I should be able to handle a shot of chaos now.   Here’s why I’m not cleaning them and, therefore, why my writing is not on track.  Those of you who know about the ghost that inhabits my cottage may want to believe that Fred, the ghost, is getting back at me for abandoning him the entire winter to a cold house.  That’s possible.  I won’t rule it out.  Fred has his ways of getting my attention.


Here’s what’s been happening since we got back.  The weather changed; we went from mid-seventies for over a week to several nights of  severe frost.  My lilacs are not happy.  Two nights after we got here, I noticed long vertical streaks of something black on our walls.  Mold or soot?  It appears to be soot.  The furnace guy says nothing is wrong with the furnace.  Perhaps it’s running fine now, but sometime while we were gone it left us those streaks.  We washed walls for two days.  The streaks remained.  We’ll have to repaint.


We began to rip out the downstairs bathroom to put in a washer and dryer.  Everything was going fine until the shut-off valves for the hot water broke, and we had a minor flood in the basement.  No hot water for several days.  We showered at our health club, a twenty mile trip to town.


The good news?  Hubby announced when I returned from my shower today that we now have hot water.  Do I dare lay my hand on the closet door handle?


Better news?  Hubby’s motorcycle started right up when he pulled it out of the storage shed.  I think he may get on it and ride into the sunset, leaving me with an unfinished bathroom.  I wouldn’t blame him.


The best news?   I wrote this, didn’t I, and my closets are still a mess.  Maybe there’s a new me—the gal who writes while her house crumbles around her.


I’ll bet many of you have some quirky thing you have to do to be able to write.  C’mon.  Fess up.  Share with us.
Lesley is the author of two books with Oak Tree Press: Dumpster Dying and Grilled, Chilled and Killed.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Ha, ha, Lesley, the disarray in my closets do not bother me a bit. I need my cup of Chai latte to begin in the a.m. And I'm happiest if I have a big slot of time, but it's not necessary.

Glenn Nilson said...

I guess I've never let disarray get in my way. A cup of coffee in the morning, or tea later on, makes me feel as ready as I'm likely to get. Mainly, I have to just start writing, and then get lost in experience.

Patricia Gligor said...

I think you're right, Lesley. We all have our "quirks."
Before I can write, I need to know that I have at least two or three hours of uninterrupted time before I have to get back into the "real" world. I can write emails or even a post with less time but I can't work on a novel.

Patricia said...

Oh, man, I hope your rash of bad luck ends soon. I think the motorcycle starting up is a good sign. Maybe you should take a ride with your hubby and forget about the closets. Like you said, you wrote this post, right?

Lesley Diehl said...

I used to ride with hubby, but one night he took me through Springfiled, MA in the rain at around eighty miles per hour. That cured me of wanting to be a motorcycle mama.
Gosh, all of you have such absolutely sane things you do to get writing. Do you think there's something wrong with me? Duh, yeah.

jrlindermuth said...

The closets will be there next spring. Ignore them and do what's important--write.
A cup of coffee is essential as a kick-starter.

William Doonan said...

This is a riot!
The writing is more important than the closet. Words are worth more of your time than socks.

Lesley Diehl said...

Tell my hubby that my writing is more important than his socks. Go ahead, I dare you!
I've decided on this compromise: I rearranged the hall closet upstairs, but didn't clean anything. I had to do it because I needed a placed to hide the vacuum cleaner.

Julie Luek said...

I have a tough time writing when my home is disorganized too. It feels very unsettling to me!

JL Greger said...

I hate to admit it but I love to do laundry. It gives me a sense of satisfaction. The sound of my drier humming is my favorite background noise for writing - it calms me. Then I relax and can write.

Susan said...

I think you are in good shape for NEXT year. I come home to Illinois from Phoenix each spring. Last spring my hot water heater broke down and flooded my utility room and I had ants in my kitchen for six weeks until I finally called an exterminator. But this spring all is quiet. It's as if my house had a huge fit because of my absense last year. So, if your house follows mine, you'll have a great spring NEXT year.

Carolyn J. Rose said...

I have to get my office cleaned squared away before each new project. I catch up on my filing, vacuum, dust, and even wash the window. Then I align the dictionary, file cards, and research notebook (yes, I'm a Virgo)and settle in.

C.L. Swinney said...

You are hilarious!! Maybe you can get your hubby to tackle the closet??

Lesley Diehl said...

I love the sound of a dryer doing its thing also, but I love the smell of sheets hung out on the line.

As for hubby helping with closet cleaning, if it's not in plain sight, then it doesn't exist and that goes for closets, dust bunnies under beds and dirt under the rugs. But he's a great cook!