Spring Clean

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I’ve done it. I’ve just sent my current work-in-progress (WIP) to my agent to review. After that, off it goes to the publisher by the end of this month to sucessfully meet the stipulated “February 2013” deadline. Phew! Just by the skin of my teeth! I was recently chatting with a “person-in-publishing” and she estimated that only one in four writers meet their submission deadlines and I was quite stunned. And determined. I will be that 25%, goshdarnit!

So, as you can imagine, I was relieved and chuffed to get it sent off. Then, as soon as I sat back from the computer screen, something weird happened. Since your last post I’ve been pondering about my own writing habits and rituals and what I observed as soon as I had emailled off the manuscript was that I needed to clean. Deep, down and dirty clean. Get obsessively organised clean. I assume it is a strange “manuscript submission cleaning frenzy syndrome” (M.S.C.F.S?) or maybe my body clock is still on North American seasons and I have got a Spring clean bug. What’s your diagnosis? Have you got it too? Does it happen after submitting your work-in-progress?

Perhaps it’s more noticeable to me because, well, I do not love to clean. I love the place being clean, I just don’t love doing it. Martha Stewart I am not. There are some chores I don’t mind quite as much as others (cleaning out the fridge, vacuuming, clothes washing) but other chores I have been putting off for a, ahem, disgraceful amount of time. During the manuscript writing time I just didn’t have the energy or inclination to do anything much more than stack the dishwasher and throw clothes into the machine, to be honest with you. Cleaning settled right at the bottom of the priority pile. But as soon I’d hit the sent button on the manuscript….those messy, grubby, cluttered areas were firmly in my sights.

I started with B1’s room. Drawers have been labelled, baby clothes stored away, things folded.

B2’s things also did not escape organisation. More labelling, more tidying. B2 helped by pulling all of the nappies out of their neat stack. Thanks, darling.

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The bookshelf, bane of my husband’s existence (“How can one person have SO many books? But haven’t you read that one already?” I mean, I can’t even respond to those questions, you know?!) finally, finally, got sorted. I stacked up books to give away and have been passing them out, one by one, to my friends when we catch up. A soup cookbook for my sister-in-law, A New Zealand wine book for my favourite cafe owner. It’s been great fun pairing up people and books, like a book-matchmaker, and my own shelf is much tidier for it. Don’t tell Matt but he was right, a cull was really required.

I still have our bedroom, the bathroom and the kitchen on the hit-list. Matt did the laundry, bless him, perhaps just to get out of my way as I raced around like a woman possessed. Those areas are going to take a good dose of courage and mettle. A significant amount of elbow grease. When we moved I never bothered to sort out my jewellery and related bits; there is a whole mess of a shelf comprised of bracelets, knotted necklaces and solo earrings. Not to mention the dust that needs dealing with. The stuff that hides in the corners the vacuum can’t be bothered with, the stuff that is on top of and at the back of the fridge. Shudder. A fellow kiwi friend came over to visit last night and she assures me that Australia has a lot more dust than New Zealand. I think she was just trying to be nice, if you know what I mean.

It’s lucky I have this newfound energy for cleaning because, clearly, there is a lot to be done. I’m just trying to use it while it lasts. And before my publisher comes back with a list of suggestions and proposed revisions the length of my broom handle, the thickness of my mega-sponge. Because when that happens the cleaning is going to be as important as it usually is – not at all.

Hugs, Hannah x

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One Response

  1. Oh yes, I have felt this way! Sometimes it’s before I get into a revision (see also: procrastination), or when I’m too wound up to work through a plot knot and need to “fix” something else. But the spring cleaning after sending off a manuscript is classic.

    BUT, I have to disagree with Matt. One can NEVER have too many books. Too many in the sense of not enough bookshelf to contain them, maybe. But acquiring more books is necessary. Always. Maybe that’s why you have been giving some away? To make room for more?!

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