This one garnered me $50 from the Spring, 2004 Poets and Writers and a $500 scholarship through the HAF. And I still haven’t finished what I set out to do.


So I cleaned the house yesterday. Swept up the dog hair, sprayed the smudges off the front door, wiped the splotches off the outside of the toilet bowl. I had the house to myself for two hours; I’d planned on cleaning for one and writing for one. I tried to squeeze in a moment of masturbation, my sleeping libido having been suddenly awakened by the silence, but one of the guys my husband works for pulled up in the driveway as I was indulging that particular inspiration. My hands stopped their stroking so they could grab my clothes instead. I answered the door dressed and disappointed. He needed to pick up some wood. Of course.

While folding laundry, I remembered to call a friend I’ve been neglecting. Forty-five minutes of discussion of the hardships of marriage later, I’d not only finished folding the laundry, but carried the clothes upstairs, made the bed, wiped off the counter, straightened the cushions on the couch and put the dishes away. Cleaning and talking I can do. Writing, however, demands sole attention.

I never made it. The time passed without a burst of brilliance, without discipline, without any action on my part regarding the fact that if I don’t provide these words wandering around my mind with a home, they’ll leave me for someone else. Last time I walked on the beach, I wrote mental essays one direction and poetry coming back. But writing in my head is as useful as writing in the sand.

The house is clean. My brain is overflowing like yesterday’s compost bucket before I emptied it. I’ve got to figure out a way to make myself stop working, start writing. What if I wrote first, wrote for an hour, then cleaned the house as a reward? What if I drank even more coffee so I could write later at night? What if I whipped the chaos of my life into order and kept my writing time on a schedule, made appointments with myself that I arrived for on time?

This is never going to happen.

There will be no novel, no screenplay, no short story published in The Sun. Last minute columns in the Eye, forced meanderings about art and music, created not with skill, but in desperation – those will continue, I’m sure. But the half-started novel, the dozens of well-crafted beginnings of stories, the pages straight from my soul, they will linger, unfinished, except in my mind. I will die and then, as someone sorts through my stuff, she will pause, curious as to what the stacks of battered folders contain. Maybe she’ll be impressed, just a little, think to herself what a shame it was I never wrote more. Maybe she’ll be inspired, just a bit, think to herself, she should take some art classes, pick up that book she’s been meaning to read.

And then it’ll be time to make dinner.

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