This is my house. There is this joke I saw on Facebook and it goes like this. A husband comes home from work and the house is a complete disaster. Dirty dishes are piled up out of the sink, toys everywhere, floors grime-covered, baskets overflowing with laundry, kids’ paint splotched all over the floors and walls, no supper on the table, filthy kids running wild. The husband finds the wife upstairs lounging in bed. (If it were me, there would be books. And wine.) He says, “What happened?” She says, “You know how you’re always asking me what I do all day?” He says, “Yeah.” She replies, “Today I didn’t do it.”
Here are some close-ups of the disaster.
I never realize how much cleaning up I do all day until I have a couple days of not doing it. I think I do the picking up and wiping down unconsciously, like a tick.
But believe me—I am not complaining this time. Because wanna see something else?
My book! The proof copy came in the mail and I spent the weekend proofreading. And being totally amazed that I held my book in my hands. It was definitely worth the several days of cleaning I was sure to face afterwards.
Steve (not his real name) was a serious hero. He dealt with all the big issues: from Ponies to Nerfs to Minecraft to endless sharpening of colored pencils and even more endless requests for food. (You cannot imagine how often these people want to eat.) He even took the kids—and when I say that I mean ours and my sister’s—out for pizza and to the movies. He’s still twitching a little. So, in the spirit of transparency, this mess is worse than usual because it was committed by twice as many rotten kids. I choose the word “rotten” with utmost affection. And Steve (not his real name) is nothing like that guy in the joke. He never asks me why the house looks like a cyclone hit. He just cheerfully steps over the rubble. He’s one of the good ones, that Steve (not his real name). I do always feed him, though.
So, what is it like to read your own book? Pretty unbelievable. I hadn’t read this particular draft since July, so it has had a good long time to ripen. I started writing this novel in 2010 (I think ... ) and this is draft 8. Yeah—that many. And it will probably go through at least one more. Although, the heavy-lifting is done. Now it’s more of a gentle whittling. Tweaking. I could probably do this forever—every writer could. Obsess over a word here, consult the thesaurus over another word there. But at some point—when you know in your gut that it is tight and it has been edited professionally, I might add—you have to let it fly out into the world. But reading the novel now, I am so happy with it. It’s better than I remembered, to toot my own horn. Which makes it sound as though I thought it kind of sucked before now. But when you’re the writer, it can be difficult to focus on anything but the self-perceived flaws and worries about shortcomings. So this is a lovely, lovely thing—to read your book and feel excited and proud and ready to share it!
Believe it or not (if you’re a mom, you can), I am still cleaning. And I have several loads of laundry to fold. But toggling between proofreading my book and scrubbing the floor—my 2 vocations, homemaker/mom and writer—today I feel nothing but lucky!