Thursday, September 22, 2011

Battle of Wits: Unorganized Writer vs Vengeful Domestic Gods

I do not require an alarm because the damn magpies outside of my bedroom window regularly wake me. I was experiencing a dream in which various friend’s floating heads discussed what was going wrong with my life, novel, etc. I was trying to appreciate their input but wished they would go away, since I was perched in my underwear on top of my washing machine in my back yard and my house was missing. It was rather important to find said house, since I had to get dressed and fly to Oprah’s agent to sign a book contract.

I often wonder why anxiety dreams so frequently involve washing machines and underwear, but cannot come up with an answer before my morning intake of caffeine.

As a writer, I survive on coffee and background TV noise, so first things first. Upon waking and stumbling blindly downstairs, I turn on the TV to waste electricity and sit on my comfortable desk chair to turn on the computer just before I get the coffee going.

Immediately, the chair dies, dramatically and with loud splintering noises, my pyjama-clad body sprawled in a very unromantic pose, my fuzzy slipper feet pointing straight up. I don’t think it was me, though my “secretary’s spread” ass probably didn’t help.  But the chair was also supporting the weight of loads of unfolded laundry from yesterday.

I can immediately surmise that the Domestic Gods are upset with me, probably due to dishes littering my counters, dust everywhere and the unmitigated cruelty of un-watered and dying plants on the window sill. I gaze briefly at the pile of garbage that used to be my comfortable perch, and then sigh and head to the kitchen to get the second half of my daily requirement prepared…caffeine, more accurately called “Life Juice”.

I retrieve an ancient, dirty plastic lawn chair from the shed, plodding through three feet of un-mowed lawn jungle and getting clothes-lined by our man-eating ivy. I trip over the dog chain on the way back, precariously buried unseen in said jungle debris, enter the house and stomp flimsy slippers free of dirt and brown grass in my kitchen. Then I carefully prop the chair in front of my computer desk. I sit while the coffee machine burps and gurgles contentedly in the background, only to discover the lawn chair is several inches lower than my deceased chair. I add various cushions and pillows, turn to fetch the coffee and then glance back to discover the cat has spontaneously materialized on my chair, lured by the presence of cushions. After I get a coffee, overloaded with sugar and whitener, I remove the irritated cat and perch awkwardly on the chair. Then I proceed to stare moronically at the monitor screen.

As I suppress the desire to e-mail my editor and beg for reports of the progress of my latest submission, I remind myself I must not be a pain in the bum. The aforementioned editor has promised to keep me informed of any eventualities. But I sure wish some eventuality would… eventuate.

I rerun the last sentence in my latest article and I realize I am morphing into an unqualified politician, complete with statements that have no basis in fact but merely biased opinion. I guess I shouldn’t have watched Rick Mercer and W5 both last night. I will soon lose the capacity to answer a straight question or form a comprehensible, serious thought on paper, ever, except if I’m involved in wild shenanigans that frankly I have none to admit to. Sigh. I never leave the house to create any. Would life would be easier, or at least sexier, if I was a politician? But then I would only be running with three votes in the entire universe, my mother and two of three of my sons, and no seat to sit in.

I can’t help but wonder if the Domestic Gods are really that petty, or whether the continuous breakage of various household items is possibly pointing out the lack of consideration on basic motherly and wifely duties while I’m immersed in my journalistic world. Or maybe it’s the tendency to spend money on books, charity shop clothing and bath oils meant to inspire musing brilliance instead of on essential items of domestic equipment like food and laundry soap.

I know I should be concentrating on my current novel, but I have temporarily lost all enthusiasm for it. My central character is morphing into a whining, moody cow, far too closely based on myself at age fifteen. I’m still a bit whiny, but now it’s just mid-life crisis stuff.

I get up briefly to feed the cat and dog (the husband feeds himself, since he has fingers and hands), watch a fly hop in a distressed way across the hot coffee carafe, then return to the computer after that indulgence in avoidance. I manage to type out two lines of incomprehensible drivel in a state of semi-consciousness, and then decide I need more coffee. I return and nudge the cat off my keyboard, the result of which is strange letters and numbers on my script. Stupid animal.

I decide to cheer myself up by sneaking off for brief fling with a political-noir novel I am collaborating on with my alter ego, me but with more class in my fantasy world. At least it’s writing. It also requires a re-reading of Tom Clancy in order to achieve an appropriate dark, politico conspiracy tone. I dig out an ancient copy of “Hunt for Red October” and immerse myself. I wake up several chapters later, slouch behind the desk, pin a cynical sneer to my lip and pour metaphorical Canadian acid on the manuscript.

I wonder if this counts as “doing something useful”. I can only hope the Domestic Gods are appeased. I decide I should perhaps turn on the dusty, long un-used stove and actually cook gruel for my starving, long suffering husband, just to be on the safe side.

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