Write or clean? – you’d think it was a no brainer wouldn’t you. Well, not in my house. Not for me. And I wonder whether this is purely a woman writer’s problem, like having a room of one’s own. One must have cleaner of one’s own to write freely. Do men suffer from this problem too?
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve spent the morning cleaning, ironing and a million other things it takes to run a home and take care of a husband and children – as well as working. Do male writers ever get up and think ‘I’ll just put a wash on before I go to my office.’? I think not but am happy to be proved wrong.
By the time I had finished all the housework, cooking and cleaning, I didn’t have the energy to be creative. All my creative energy had been spent on fitting all of my kids toys back into too small a storage space. It’s not that I enjoyed cleaning, far from it, cooking too for that matter. It’s because I was afraid to write. Cleaning was another form of procrastination. I carried on like this, on and off, for years until I turned my theory on its head. Instead of thinking – First I’ll clean and then I’ll write – I did it the other way round. Writing first, cleaning after.
I had to steel myself to do it at first, walk past the washing, the ironing, the cleaning, watch the dust build on the mahogany furniture, the windows cloud over. But I did it. And I’m happy to say that I still do it. I don’t want to die and people say ‘Oh, her house was beautifully clean’. I want them to say ‘She made the most of what she had, she enjoyed her writing until her dying day’. So, that’s my cleaning excuse over with. If you ever come to visit and furballs are rolling around my hall it’s because I’m writing. Oh, and I do put a wash on before I start to write. But that’s all. I’ve spent the week writing so I figure I’m allowed.