I Cleaned My House and Lost My Mojo
My basic theory on housecleaning is quite simple: Out of sight, out of mind. Yeah, I know, I'm going to be single for a long, long time. When I'm not on the air or doing other work around 92.9 The Lake, I'm at home working on a book. Not reading one;writing one.
Now, when I'm writing, I become oblivious to pretty much everything around me. My work desk looks like I've never thrown away a piece of paper in my life. When I take time to eat, I nuke something and leave that little black container on my work desk. It doesn't take those thing long to really pile up. After a few days, there's no more room on the work desk. Rather than getting up and cleaning, I take the offending bowls in the kitchen and out them in the garbage can that is already overflowing. Out of sight, out of mind. See what I mean.
Well, I got all inspired over the weekend and decided that it might be about time to clean my work area. I'm not even going to try and pretend the last time I performed that task. Suffice to say that we had another president at the time. Basically I was cleaning up the mess I created during the last several months.
The house itself was not really as bad as I thought as it was mainly a matter of just putting things where they belong. I found a different story when I tackled the kitchen. Now, when I'm writing, I spend just enough time to nuke something, eat it and resume writing. Needless to say, the kitchen was a disaster area.
Just standing there in the doorway to the kitchen, the room looked kind of spooky. It was sort of like no one lived there. I began to fear what might be under the first layer of clutter. Was I still at the top of the food chain in that room.
The kitchen itself turned out to be not as bad as I thought. That chore consisted mainly of tossing our food packaging that hadn't made it to the trash can. I was starting to feel pretty good about my labors. I decided to take a short break and celebrate my progress. I went to the fridge for some Gator Ade and the moment I opened the door, I saw a sight that chilled me to the core. It was the inside of my fridge!
I found jars of pickles and peppers and such that expired two years ago. I found two or three mustard jars; all of them empty. There was a container of chicken stock that I was saving for a special recipe. I've long since forgotten both putting the chicken stock in the fridge as well as exactly what I was going to make with it. I made the mistake of opening the container. Instead of dumping it down the disposal and washing the Tupperware container, I just threw the whole thing away. Don't tell me you've never done that.
When I finally finished cleaning the fridge, all that remained was 3 bottles of Gator Ade, some Sargento cheese that I saved to see if it was on the recent recall list and 2 eggs. I won't even talk about what was in those drawers! Again, out of sight, out of mind.
Finally, I brewed a cup of coffee and sat down in my work area to resume writing. I couldn't find a thing I needed. My notes that were so joyously scattered all over the room were now all in one place, but it had just become a pile of papers. Before I cleaned I had them "organized" by location. You know, quotes I need to use are all in that pile by the couch. In the TV chair I had bits and pieces of odd thoughts that had come to me while I was writing. And so it went around the room. I knew each stack of papers, where they were and what they were about. Now, what I had was a ream of paper with no theme, rhyme or reason.
The bottom line was that, while the room was clean, it had lost all its charm.This was not how a writer's area should look. When it comes to writing the old saying of " A place for everything and everything in its place", just doesn't work. It took me an hour to reclutter my work space with my various notes and papers. I even tossed in a couple of crumbled up pieces of paper to give the area that lived in look. I went to the kitchen and brought back several coffee cups and scattered them around. The work area was beginning to take shape again.
I took all the reference books that I had put neatly back on the bookshelf and tossed them casually around the room. I had a collection of pens; some were out of ink and some weren't. I happily placed them all in one stack. I looked around at my handiwork and immediately sat down and began to write. What prose! What wit! Ah, the inspiration of clutter. My mojo was back.
Now I know when it comes to actually putting the book together, I'll need to be organized, but creativity is a messy business. I've tried it both ways and my take on it leads me to this conclusion:
Nothing worthwhile was ever written in a clean room.