The last time I sat down to write I scratched my pen across the paper and pushed away the tablet. I couldn’t start. My mind was elsewhere. Writing was the last thing I wanted to be doing. It wasn’t a question of hunkering down. I had been working hard all year long. Right now I had a deep need to do something else.
What I really wanted and felt I needed to do was to nest, to fix up my home, especially the bathroom. I felt oppressed by the leaking shower door, the cracks in the plaster around the tub, the dirty paint, the unfinished floor. It made me unhappy to go in there. I knew that it would make the last big push to finish my book more bearable if I fixed up that room, so I set down my pen and gave in to my urge.
A friend cautioned me. She told me my time was too valuable and I should just hire a handyman. She said her guy could probably throw down some tile and paint the walls for 500 bucks, but I couldn’t justify spending that much money right now. Moreover, I had an inexplicable need to tackle the job myself. Consulting my Woman’s Hands-On Home Repair Guide, I was determined to learn how to do it myself.
I spent a total of 75 dollars and the next four days of my holiday time off that I “should” have been writing doing nothing but re-caulking the tub and shower door -- twice (the first time I did it wrong!) -- cutting out moldy plaster, re-plastering the walls and washing, priming and painting the walls and ceilings and doors. I cleaned out the fan too and learned how to reassemble a locking doorknob. After two days of kneeling in the tub and two more days bending backwards with a soapy sponge or a sopping roller brush as enamel paint splattered my face, I had swollen hands and feet and could barely stand up straight!
Was it worth it?
I don’t know yet exactly what it is, but I have a funny feeling I learned something important.
It feels like the time when early on writing “The Red Coat” I had a deep urge to take on a sewing project and I let myself do that and I discovered in the process the truth about my main character: she would sew the red coat herself instead of having someone else do it for her.
How does one ever finish a book if one always lets ones impulses get in the way? They caution writers about giving in to the urge to do housework as a way to avoid the work of writing and, yet I also read somewhere that instincts in unconscious people are the manifestation of the Self.
Do you know where your instincts want to take you? Do you dare let them?
For my picture, I snapped a shot of my old bathroom floor. I decided to keep what marble I had because it's hard to destroy and beautiful, filled with strange hieroglyphics that are fun to decipher.