Thursday, August 5, 2010

Toilets and Editing

So because it is summer, we thought forcing our children into labor was a nice character-building experience (though our children are much older and less content than this laboring child). Our son, ever the miser, is pretty much willing to do anything for money. Our daughter, on the other hand, thinks her time is worth a treasure trove, and there is nothing we could pay her that would be equal to the work time she puts in. We have to disallow all social contact until certain requirements are met, because she is 'all that' otherwise, she will do NOTHING.

Her task yesterday was the bathroom. She cleans much like my husband, but even MORE annoyingly superficially. My husband hates my piles and stacks, but he's never lifted a THING to clean under it. He tidies, I SCRUB. My daughter doesn't even angle to clean the exposed, but not obvious, just yet.

Oddly though, she was thoroughly offended with my RECLEANING the toilet.

And thus begins the writing metaphor.

Sometimes we WANT to know... we want to keep improving... and sometimes we just prefer to get away with what we can. It depends on our goals, I suppose... and how much of ourselves we invest in the identity.

My daughter has no identity whatsoever tied up in our toilet (which is probably good, cleanliness notwithstanding). I suppose that means the bathroom is NOT her book.

But what does it mean for the rest of us?

So do we want a white glove test of our stuff? Do we want to be our own worst critic, obsessed with the quality of EVERYTHING? Do we want to have an impressive entry to just lure people into the house? Maybe an impressive entry can intrigue a decorator who can guide us through the improvements we need?

I guess my philosophy is clean it so it is approachable, then have a nice PARTY and ask the opinions of our friends on how we ought to rearrange... then we choose the suggestions that seem really groovy—do THOSE and then clean it up before inviting the important people over. Because if we take ALL the suggestions, it is no longer our house. And if it is too sterile, then it is boring.

But how we want to clean it is ultimately a decision of personality and goal. I am not a clean person—I know that. I ask for help. Some people are VERY clean.... Probably there are some non-writing types so clean they are too boring to produce anything interesting (my bias against cleanliness is probably showing).

So how do you like to go about your cleaning? Are you tempted to pretend it is clean before it it done? Are you too hard on yourself?

And a little game, courtesy of Rosie C. who tagged everyone interested, but of course, suffering from FOMS, I am pretty much always interested....

1. Your name/Blog's name
2. Are you right-handed or left-handed?
3. What are your favorite letters to write?
4. What are your least favorite letters to write?
5. Write: "The quick, brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."
7. Your favorite song lyrics are?
8. Make sure you tag 7 people to join in on the fun.
9. Tickle your fancy and add a special quip for us to enjoy.

1.  Hart Johnson/Confessions of a Watery Tart
2.  Right handed. HOPELESSLY right handed.
3.  A, D, T and lower case b, f, q, x, y and z.
4.  C, I, U. Nothing lower case bugs me.
5 and 6 -->
7.You Learn (Alanis Morrisette)
8.Consider yourself tagged.

9.  It's THURSDAY and you know what THURSDAY means!!!

(these are the bedside books you would have if you are ever a house guest at the Tart's house.)

Okay my friends—hope you have a fabulous day!


Anonymous said...

When it comes to actual cleaning I'm very much of the mind that it is good enough - though I do wipe over every surface I draw the line at hours of scrubbing.
When it comes to editing, I'm probably much the same. I like to tidy things up and knock the rough edges of but I'm not pedantic enough yet. I'll get there because unlike cleaning I know that my writing is going to last longer than a day and once its fixed, it won't get messy again.

TreeX said...

Cleaning: as long as it smells nice and looks okay, that's as far as I'm willing to go.

Also, I can read your handwriting without any problems... Might come from going to school with friends who wrote Chinese, Greek and Cuneiform, all while attempting Latin script :)

ViolaNut said...

Haha, I gave you that book. :-) And I'm all ambidextrous and stuffs, so there. *snort* Back to bed now...

Will Burke said...

Way to build that character! We all needed it, as does the next generation! In our house, we're tidyers, with semi-annual marathons! With my writing, I'm not far enough along to define it just yet.

Old Kitty said...

Oh I'm extremes with cleanliness! I do this once a week really really deep cleaning that everything sparkles you could eat your dinner off the floor type clean. Then I sit back for the next six days and live in untidiness and near squalor! LOL!

If I'm to answer no. 4 - it'll have to be q. Because it's a needy letter and needs a u to feel complete = qu.

:-) Take care

Ted Cross said...

I take a Big Picture view of cleaning. No one went to their grave with accolades about how clean they kept things. I find cleaning to be basically unimportant. If it gets too bad, I do what is needed to make things bearable, but on the other hand I just don't ever let things get that bad. I am very much against organized cleaning!

inStilettos said...

:) approach- just gets a cleaner! lol :)Its life transforming! nice blog!

Hart Johnson said...

Cassandra-sounds like you and I are pretty similar, and that longevity is exactly why I'm not even willing to WANT to be super picky in the house.

Joris-I'm actually surprised you aren't a little anal, as on your art, you are a perfectionist.

Leanne-I thought of you on that question, as you are the only ambidextrous person I know!

Will--I like the idea of those marathons, but can't bring myself to do that on my days off! Maybe if I planned a vacation day to do it twice a year... (used to be when my parents were coming but they don't stay with us anymore)

OK, I'm curious if you are a perfectionist in your writing, too. *snorts about q* (I like the tail)


Michelle-hey, thanks for dropping in! And thank you!

Sarah Ahiers said...

ooh i'm a scrubber too, when it comes to cleaning. There's no point in making the effort to clean if you don't do it right.

LTM said...

I think I'm the good entrance, looking for a decorator to give me professional advice type... :D And what pretty handwriting you have! I like the little frog~

Where DO nudists keep their hankies???

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I subscribe to the Southern saying: "just give it a lick and a promise" when it comes to cleaning. It's "good enough." I've come to the conclusion that I'm raising children, not raising houses, so I'm now less Type A than I used to be! It's easy to be hard on ourselves...

B. Miller said...

I'm so sick of cleaning and editing and scrubbing... especially since, when you're cleaning your bathroom, you can look at it and KNOW it's clean, but with writing, you never know if it's just right or not. At least, that's how it feels right now for me. My manuscript won't stop punching me in the brain...

Hart Johnson said...

Sarah, I'm more a 'clutter doesn't bug me, mold does' gal--thus the scrubbing, but not clearing the piles.

Leigh-I think that is probably the best approach for selling a book. I need to just change my attitude on the matter and realize I want people to want to come in...

Elizabeth--MAN, not kidding! We don't own any nice furniture because I figure we LIVE in the house and who wants to have to act like it's a museum.

B. While a bathroom becomes obviously clean and the book is harder to tell, at least the book will STAY clean. You will get there!

Talli Roland said...

I'm with you! I clean it up enough to make it bearable - then invite others in! Love the metaphor. :)

lisahgolden said...

I think I write like I clean - if I spend too much time gearing up to do it, it never gets done. If I dive in, I'm engrossed before I realize it.

RosieC said...

Oh, I'm pretty hard on myself, I'm afraid. I love telling the story, and it rushes out of me, but I've been editing and rewriting 4 chapters for a very long time. I think it's because it's my first big baby (I mean, we're talking 11 pounds at birth big!) and I want it to be taken seriously when it comes to the five years it will take me to get an agent :)

On the other hand, I live in something that filth finds disgusting! *squirm* Somehow I clean and the house is never actually clean, and I don't even have kids to compete with. Oh well. I guess I'm overcompensating with my manuscript, huh?

Lola Sharp said...

(Man, posting here is hard for me for some reason. I have to jump through several hoops to get through the gate. Maybe the gate senses my evil?)

Okay, first, my daughter (14) cannot be bribed to clean either. When she does clean, it's slacker cleaning. And she gets upset/hurt/offended when I clean after her, too. It's a teen girl thing.

I am a freak. I clean my entire house (4,000 sq. ft.) top to bottom every single day. I like a clean house...and we have friendly neighbors that pop over (especially now, because they want to use our pool), and my daughter ALWAYS has at least one friend over. I'm anal about my house.

EXCEPT my office. (Husband's downstairs office is immaculate) My office has stacks and stacks of books. And, my've seen them. There is no system. So, I'm CLEAN and well decorated, but have terrible organizing skills. I do not enjoy organizing, like so many others seem to. I hate it, in fact.

As for my writing, I'm weird. I'm completely anal about every word, every sentnece in my MSs, but with my blogposts, emails, letters, comments...I just let it rip. No proofing, no filter, no spell/typo check. I figure it's ME conversing--like I talk. Me. But my fiction is someone else's story, and it's my art and I want it right, to do it justice.

I love your handwriting, but I LOVE your froggy!!!

Thanks for being you.

Hart Johnson said...

Talli *high fives* YAY for assistance!

Lisa-yeah, I can't think too much either, or it's intimidating, though I DO get more done if there is SORT OF a plan.

Rosie- *giggles* I bet it's not as bad as you claim... unless you are poor enough you are slumming it--those places have grime that breeds (I know because I've lived there)

Lola-HOLY COW! Your house is 4 times the size of mine and I can't even keep the living room clean. Not being remotely anal on the matter is part of it... rebellion against a clean mother (and my deep rooted belief that she felt compelled to be so clean so nobody would know how chaotic her life was) I just can't bring myself to CARE about impressing, and to me, that is what clean is about... but the BOOK, needs to impress.

As for the MS--THAT I can see the point in cleaning....

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I tend to go overboard with cleaning everything including my writing too much.

Erica Mitchell said...

*giggle fit* I love that you only hand wrote two of the things on the list, so...your still tagged! Take 2 ;) As for "cleaning" I found that as I did the critique process for not only other people but the statement "you know your work best, take the suggestions that will further your story in the direction you feel is best and the rest of the comments really don't matter," applies to everyone. It took me awhile to get that about myself though. Go Figure! I know your about to call me out on my relentless internal editor (is that the "engineer" in me?) but I have gotten better about it. I am learning to be a little less tidy. Oddly, I'm not a clean freak in my own home...but my work has suffered from a case of cleanliness to the point it was getting sterile. BUT, not so much anymore and it's all because I took my own advice. Choose only those comments that help, those that don't-Toss Em'!

Hart Johnson said...

JW-It can sure be hard not to do, I think, especially for detail oriented personalities. I tend to be more a 'what trees?' person *shifty*

Erica-okay, consider me spanked! And yes, that engineer may be the sterilizer. That is why this statistician writes long-hand... to turn that off. My typing voice is fairly clinical (though i manage with the blog, but that is because I have full silliness permission here... the books, not so much...

Cheeseboy said...

Love me some Sadaris.

I love your cleaning philosophy. Next year when I clean, I am definitely inviting people over.

Arlee Bird said...

I guess I edit like I clean. I try to make it look good, but I don't get absolutely fastidious about it. When someone walks into my house I want them to feel comfortable and at home. When they read my writing I want them to feel like I'm talking to them-- that's why I try to read aloud to myself when I edit.

Tossing It Out

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Just like cleaning, editing never seems to end ;)

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