Writing, Housework and Cat Hair

I hate doing laundry. It ranks high on my list of onerous household tasks. But needs must, as the Brits will say.

When household tasks loom, I think of a quote from French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir:

“Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day. The housewife wears herself out marking time: she makes nothing, simply perpetuates the present … Eating, sleeping, cleaning – the years no longer rise up towards heaven, they lie spread out ahead, grey and identical. The battle against dust and dirt is never won.”

At my house, the battle against clutter and cat hair is never won. One pass with the vacuum cleaner and I have enough cat hair to build a new cat.

What, you ask, does this have to do with writing? To me, writing is a bit like housework. It never ends. I wrote a blog post last month and here it is, time for another one. Same with the newsletter. I spent two years writing The Things We Keep, the Jeri Howard book that was published in March. Now I’m back to work, on a new book.

It’s starting all over again, that perpetual cycle for the writer. Having released my polished progeny into the wild, to be purchased by avid mystery readers, I am once again struggling to whack the next novel out of the brush, wielding brain and keyboard instead of a machete. The book is tangled with plot threads that must be woven together, somehow. And full of characters that I envision inhabiting the book. Plus some that I didn’t imagine—who showed up anyway.

The next months will be spent wrestling with the new book, making the idea come together, persuading the people in my head to behave the way I want them too. Or in some cases, going along with them in the direction they lead me.

And doing research. This is a historical novel and it’s easy to jump down the rabbit hole, wondering what my protagonist wears, how she travels from place to place, and what she fixes for dinner. The novel is also based on actual historical events and features real people in supporting roles. So the timeline of my plot must account for that. In other words, I don’t want my protagonist talking to a historical figure when that person was out of town that week.

No wonder I’m talking to myself, and my characters.

Ah, well, I finish the novel, then I start a new one, and the process goes on and on. While the battle with dust, dirt and cat hair is never really won, at least when I’m finished writing a book, the end result is out there, available to readers.

4 thoughts on “Writing, Housework and Cat Hair

  1. I love this post, Janet! And with two felines, I can identify with the cat hair challenge as well as the writing challenge. I don’t own a single item of clothing that doesn’t have cat hair on it. And they support me when I’m writing by walking on my keyboard and trying to sit in my lap.

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  2. I agree, while the housework is more tedious and ALWAYS the same. At least each new book that is written has a new story and secondary characters to entertain as we write. Good post!

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