Sunday, 4 September 2016

C is for Cleaning - more relevant to writing than you think

Sunday morning and today's focus is on cleaning the house. Now, some people may think this has little or nothing to do with writing. I disagree.

How many times have you sat down to write, or study, or work, and been distracted from proper concentration because you were cold, or hungry, or needed coffee? It became a truism on the student message boards when I was studying Law - first year students would describe their state of pre-exam study panic, and we older ones would chant the litany - Have you had breakfast and a drink of water? Are you dressed, or are you still in your pyjamas or yesterday's trackies? Look after your body and it will look after you, we used to say. It's sound advice.

Just as taking care of our body, our biological environment, enables us to perform at work, so taking care of our physical environment does the same. This is because doing so removes distractions, that bane of a writer's existence. Unless you're a robot, I don't believe you can perform at the same level when surrounded by filth and chaos as you can when your space is reasonably clean and orderly. I spoke about setting up for a new project back in May; part of my setup is always to clean my desk, and this is why.

Which desk would you rather work at? At which do you think you would get more done?

I'm not talking about Home Beautiful here - I'm talking about acceptable. And I know many of you will relate when I say that sometimes when we are in the throes of writing, that measure of 'acceptable' tends to slide a bit. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of Flylady.

Therefore, from time to time I take a day to rehabilitate the house and get back on track. Even if it means I get no writing done today, it will pay off in better productivity tomorrow.

I sleep late, till after seven-thirty, but by the time I must start getting ready for church I have got the kitchen and bathrooms more or less decent, the house dusted and  a load of washing on. Another hour after I get home and everything is fairly decent, although laundry will continue through the day.

Now I can start work, and because it's Fathers' Day, I decide to start on a hardcover edition of my new book, King's Ransom. I dedicated this book to my Dad, so today seems an auspicious day to start this, yet I don't decide this without some cringing, because I do my hardcovers at Lulu, and the dustjackets are an absolute nightmare. So far I have only succeeded in releasing one hardcover edition.

I set up the book details in Lulu and download the templates. This is where the nightmare begins, because Lulu do not provide anything for the interior - it is just a blank page, unlike Createspace who are far more kind. I am too clever for them, though. I will make a copy of Dance of Chaos, which I've already published in hardcover, and use that as a template.

I am already seething with aggravation, and it's only 1:12. Happily, the washing machine only has sixteen minutes left in its cycle. I will do what I can until it finishes, then break to hang it out and get on the next load. This seems more of a manageable task, and I continue.

I get the front matter done, and this soothes my spirit enough that when my husband comes to summon me for lunch, I am able to greet him without a snarl.

Lunch over, I hang out the washing and put in another load. Back to King's Ransom. Now I must start putting in the main part of the book. I'd really rather be sleeping, but press on and stick it all in, no doubt creating ghastly formatting glitches that will ruin my life for the next several weeks.

By the time the light goes, I have got the basic file done, most of the washing dry and have taken the dogs for a long walk along the river. I might have completed the formatting if I'd stuck to work today, but more likely I'd not have, and this way, my home base is in good shape to support the week's work.

Happy dogs make a big difference to a writer's life

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