Let the Storm Rage On

4 Jan

stormUntil today, I have not written a word for over a month. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I have written some words—a line or two on Christmas cards, posts on Facebook, a few sentences here and there on Twitter and Instagram—but nothing substantial or concrete. Nothing significant.

And it’s not like I haven’t had the time to write. I’ve been on vacation for two weeks so I’ve had many opportunities to sit down and work on my novel. Instead, I chose to avoid doing any writing by deciding that I needed to purge my house—to de-clutter and clean every drawer, closet and cupboard that have been spilling over with excess stuff for far too long.

Cleaning out years of accumulated household junk is not an easy job. I was ruthless, hauling boxes and trash bags full of clothing, books and kitchen items to the thrift store. I bought an office shredder and spent hours chopping up reams of documents covered with important account numbers that could ruin my financial life if some identity thief got their hands on them. I donned my yellow rubber gloves, tied a dish cloth around my face and cleaned my oven for the first time in ten years (that Easy-Off Oven Cleaner really works!) I even stocked the laundry room with emergency food supplies and laid sandbags in the backyard in preparation for El Niño. I worked so hard that I had to swallow three Advil every night before bed because I was so sore from lifting, scrubbing, sorting and reaching.


Sandbags in preparation for any flooding in our backyard.

When I finally finished every task on my list, my back ached and my hands were chapped and raw. I sat down on the couch and looked at my clean and organized home and waited for that blissful sense of accomplishment to wash over me. Nothing. I felt only exhaustion. I also felt depressed and guilty for not using all that free time to write.


The view of my clean and organized kitchen/dining room from the living room couch.

I sat there and contemplated why I felt the need to avoid writing in the first place. I realized it all started after I met with an editor friend who, after reading a few chapters of my novel suggested that I needed to make some drastic changes—going as far as changing the narrative form and story line/plot in ways that I found a bit overwhelming—to say the least. It’s difficult to hear those words after putting my heart and soul into this novel for over three years.

But today is a new day and I’ll forge ahead, knowing there is much work to be done. As painful as it will be, I know it’s my time to purge words, sentences and paragraphs. It will hurt, but hopefully when I’m done, I’ll feel that sense of accomplishment I’ve been longing for.

The good thing is that the El Niño storms are lining up in the Pacific. This week I’ll be stuck in the house while the storms rage on outside, giving me absolutely no excuse to avoid writing any longer.

Now if I can just deal with those storms raging in my head and in my heart, I think I’ll be all right.

Happy New Year, dear readers!

family photo

Happy New Year from our family to yours!

10 Responses to “Let the Storm Rage On”

  1. Eleanor Winters January 4, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

    Stop Jess: you are writing and this is another excellent example of your profound writing skill!

  2. Marilyn Lauer January 4, 2016 at 3:07 pm #

    I feel you sister. I had the same two weeks to write and I did but no more than I usually would have and there were plenty of avoidance behaviors going on. I started to wonder if I really love writing like I say I do. I started to wonder if I shouldn’t just be content in my “day job” and have small satisfactions instead of writing myself into supposed bliss. I value your example so much and now I feel better. So know that not only is your angst shared, it is a shining example of truth.

    • Allegro non tanto January 4, 2016 at 9:20 pm #

      Let’s continue to share our angst, dear Marilyn. We will prevail, not matter how much we beat ourselves up! xxoo

  3. Hildegard January 4, 2016 at 7:35 pm #

    Guilt is a total waste of time 🙂 Be proud of your important domestic accomplishments too! Especially when they gave you some fodder to write about in this totally relevant post! 🙂 Hmmm, purging stuff, then using that same word for upcoming editing– smacks of a metaphor in 3D. You’ll do great! Lovely family picture! Happy New Year!

    • Allegro non tanto January 4, 2016 at 9:21 pm #

      Happy New Year to you, too! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me! Guilt IS a total waste of time.

  4. cindy thompson January 4, 2016 at 9:08 pm #

    Jess, we love getting your picture and news letter at Good Shepherd Preschool. So much fun to catch up with your family. Thanks so much! Much love, Cindy

    • Allegro non tanto January 4, 2016 at 9:19 pm #

      Thank you, Cindy! I carry so many fond memories of GSPS in my heart. Thank you all for helping to raise my children into the wonderful adults they’ve become. Of course, Isa isn’t done cooking, but so far it looks like she’s going to turn out pretty well, too!

  5. Becky Green Aaronson January 6, 2016 at 6:44 pm #

    You will get there, Jessica! Everybody takes a different route to find the spark of motivation needed to get through the rough parts. At least now that your house is de-cluttered you’ll have a great space to let it all percolate. Isn’t the rain fabulous?!?

  6. debatterman January 7, 2016 at 6:26 am #

    I think Becky put it so perfectly . . .Yes, physical decluttering helps make space for mental decluttering. As far as the novel goes (and that applies to anything we write), don’t we need some time and space from it to see it a little more clearly for ourselves — at which point we decide for ourselves what really needs to be changed? Happy New Year, my friend.

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