Over the years I’ve developed a ton of ways to avoid writing. Not so funny, but true. Writing is something I feel compelled to do — but the getting it DONE (that last rewrite, finding publishers, or agents, and then actually mailing (or emailing) the package to same) can sometimes pull me down the rabbit hole of avoidance.
Laundry’s probably my favorite, if I was going to pick one. Going from bad smells to good, with lots of mindless folding thrown in for good measure. Sometimes I even figure out a nasty knot in my writing while I’m mindlessly folding, which is a bonus. However, I’m not so good with putting it away. (The laundry, as well as the writing, ha ha. Looks like a small problem with completion here!)
I grew up on a farm, with four siblings, so there was always plenty of laundry to do — and it was the one bit of “woman’s work” I didn’t mind. The rest — you could keep it. I much preferred being out in the fields or out in the barns. Out there, in the barns and the fields, creation was going on. Inside the house? Housework. Wouldn’t everyone prefer creation to housework?
I used to call editing housework. I saw it as a pain in the ass that would need to be done again and again. Something that would never be finished, because, well, people LIVE in the house, and they touch things and do things… You get the drift.
As far as I know, the writing’s never done. Even when it’s out there, in a magazine or its own book somewhere, you can look at it, and see things that should be fixed, should be cleaned, buffed, dusted, tidied just one more time.
I had an editor tell me how much she liked a flash fiction story I’d written. “If you’d sent it to us, we would have definitely published it!” she said. “I loved that story!”
You want to know what I replied? “I’d fix the first sentence,” I said. “I’ve always hated that first sentence.”
The story is 91 words long.
Maybe I should think of editing as “doing the laundry” of the story. Getting rid of the bad smells, like awkward clunky sentences, plotlines that go nowhere (or secondary plotlines that take the story over!) and characters who seem to have jumped right out of central casting. Folding it all into a beautifully professional looking package, so that others can enjoy it.
Maybe that would work.
Oh, gotta go. The dryer’s done.