Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tip for Cleaning Your Refrigerator

If you're like me, cleaning out your refrigerator is the last thing on your mind, but it's not completely out of it. That small voice that whispers every time you open the door and smell the leftover barbecue chicken from your labor day bash, says, "clean me."

After years of avoiding the drudgery of pouring pickle juice down the drain and wiping out the crisper drawer, I have finally found a way to make cleaning the refrigerator a joy.

Write a novel.

Yup, you heard me. Wait, that's not enough, write a novel and sell it. That's all you need to do.

What does that have to do with the mold on your cheese?

While no one will dispute that writing a novel takes a great deal of discipline, fortitude and commitment (and lots of iced tea, string cheese and pretzel breaks) it is still pretty much done on your own with no deadline looming over you. Yes, you fantasize about selling it and want so badly to be read (and understood) but that's not enough to clean the fridge.

Nope you have to sell it. Once you do, if you are lucky enough (and I am) to find a great publisher who believes in your book and an agent and editors who know just what it will take to give it the perfect shape, then you must be prepared to do edits. These edits come in all shapes and sizes from a simple misspelling to a big thing like "do we really need this character?" With the edits comes the doubt, the questioning "I don't know, do we?" and yes, the deadlines.

See, that's where the refrigerator comes in. Last weekend I was on deadline with my copyedits (which brought back days spent in Mrs. Blair's class in eighth grade wondering why I ever had to know about comparative clauses and proper use of conjunctions and semi colons and......ughhhhh) and found myself filled with the desire to...distract myself.

That's where that chicken from labor day comes in..and the ketchup you bought for your college graduation party, and the thing in that Tupperware the mother of someone you used to date gave you...all of it has to go because if it's between that and obsessing about whether or not my main character can walk by one or two types of flowers in a flower bed, I'm picking the pickles (I decided she only needed to see one type of flower.)

Some people say happy hands are busy hands, some think cleaning is good for the soul. I say cleaning is better than doing my copyedits and copyedits are better than being poked in the eye with a stick.

You may think writing and selling a novel is a long way to go just to get a clean refrigerator but I'm sitting pretty right now and I'm wondering if you can say the same thing. Not only are my copyedits done but I now have room for cold beer.

Bring on the galleys, my bedroom closet is a mess.

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