The Art of Neglecting
I’m here as a member of the club for anonymous people who neglect day-to-day things in favor of long-term projects like novels. As long as basic hygiene is covered, the rest is optional.
Take dishes, for example. Getting the kitchen completely clean once at the end of the day is good enough, quite frankly. For the third child, I learned it was actually an advantage to leave those dropped Cheerios under the high chair for a snack later. I do wrap up the garbage to make it harder for the mice to find their feast, but there’s no rush to water the cactus or fill the birdfeeder.
And laundry? I do it. I just don’t fold it and put it away. My Nonna would tell me if I have to do a chore eventually, I might as well do it right away, but my Nonna never told me how to write a novel. Besides, I can pick through the clean laundry for what I need and skip the folding entirely. Problem solved.
In my defense, I’d like to clarify that I neglect things, not people. I’m quick to set aside my computer if a non-fictional person shows up in my living room. I like my family. I even meet friends sometimes.
But the stuff? It can wait.
I have an inverse correlation theory about my clean laundry pile and my writing. The writing likes to secrete itself as invisible data in the computer, so it only shows up in a concrete manner about once a year as an unobtrusive volume on the mantel. Laundry, conversely, is egregiously, gigantically visible nearly every minute of the week. It is the absolute lowest item on my list of household bother to get to, far lower than getting groceries, answering the mail, staging holidays, writing thank you notes, or getting the cars in for maintenance. Folding means joyless work in a chilly room, so I’ll do anything else first.
In short, the more writing I do, the less laundry I fold, and vice versa. By this theory, I should look at my laundry pile and rejoice as it grows larger, for it is the visible evidence of time spent writing, and what would I really rather have done at the end of a year: my laundry or a novel?
Welcome to the club.
And incidentally, those copyedits I mentioned last week? I just sent them in today.