Chaos and Order in the Writing Life

I meant to write this Thursday. I meant to have my hair done this morning. My husband didn’t really want to run to the Post Office to tax his car before giving two wine tastings in two separate cities (both with flood warnings). I didn’t really want to miss my daughter’s Taster Day reception at the school we are hoping she’ll attend next year, but I mis-read the time and scheduled teaching, instead. Oh, and the house looks like we’ve been burgled.


I can’t write when things are this messy and chaotic.

But they get this way, when I’ve been writing.

When things are going well with my writing, I don’t really notice that I tracked in half a ton of twigs, rosemary needles and dead leaves when I go out to garden and think about what happens next in my latest book. I don’t care that I have forgotten all the paperwork to do with my daughter’s school activities. I’m not bothered about dirty dishes or the fact that we still haven’t started the decorating (and the walls look horrid). I don’t answer my phone calls and I put emails about things I should do to one side, to think about ‘later’. But then, one day, I go to write and I am noticing it all. I think to myself, ‘Really! Why is this house so horrible? I can’t work in an environment like this! I can’t deal with all these people, phoning me, wanting me to do things, asking me questions!’

I get quite shirty about it.

But it was my fault (writing too early and then too tired to cook at dinner time) that there are big pizza boxes on the kitchen counters. It was me that left all my teaching books scattered on the dining room table (getting an hour or so in on the manuscript before my daughter came home). It was me that didn’t care about filing my class registers. Now it’s time to get out the shovel and clean the place, and spend a few hours on admin, so that my writer self can get back to work…and mess it all up again.

She’s horridly selfish. But I love her.


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