It’s tough working from home when you do all the housework

When she had a bad case of writer's block, AILIN QUINLAN found lots of tasks that distracted her from the job in hand
It’s tough working from home when you do all the housework

JUGGLING ACT: Áilín Quinlan had a bad case of writer’s block, and found herself doing lots of housework to avoid the job in hand!

“IF you wait for inspiration to write, you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter,” the American author Dan Poynter said once.

Poynter wrote about 130 books before his death in 2015 from acute myeloid leukaemia and renal failure. He caught the writing bug in the early ’70s, when he became interested in the then-new sport of hang gliding and was unable to find a book about it.

Using his own experience as a pilot and skydiver, Poynter wrote the first book ever published about hang-gliding. He wrote a book about self-publishing. He wrote one on word processing. He wrote a circular book about frisbees, which came with a frisbee. After that he wrote many books on writing and publishing and book promotion.

Poynter was a real writing dynamo but he wasn’t helping me or what I was now beginning to realise was possibly a case of Writer’s Block.

This is a condition primarily associated with writing, in which an author experiences a creative slowdown. Housework is apparently not the thing to counteract it, according to the late writer and columnist Erma Bombeck. She said: “Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter-productivity.”

“But it helps to take my mind off things,” I told myself weakly.

I went and hung out the clothes. Rain was due, but the way things were going, I had plenty of time to go out and bring them all in again and put them on a clothes-horse and then go back out and hang them all out in the garden again if the weather changed.

I met a neighbour. We chatted in a desultory way. I went back inside.

My grandson arrived. “You could always write your News of the Day, Granny,” he suggested. My grandson is in Junior Infants. They do yoga in his school, even for Junior Infants.

My grandson can do Downward Facing Dog and The Warrior and The Tree and The Cobra. He is like a miniature guru. He can also do some very earnest Mindful Looking and perform this amazing butterfly ritual that comes with a song.

Personally, I think he is wonderful. He always has a suggestion to make.

“You could write about our midnight feast,” he said.

“But we haven’t had it yet,” I replied. “We have to wait for clear weather and a starry night.”

“Can we have Elderflower Cordial and sausages?” he asked.

My husband coughed.

“You could make a start on that leg of lamb you’ve been promising me,” he mentioned.

Nothing was stopping him shoving the bloody leg of lamb into the oven, I thought bitterly.

But, of course, as the American lawyer Crystal Eastman once observed: “The average man has a carefully cultivated ignorance about household matters - from what to do with the crumbs to the grocer’s telephone number - a sort of cheerful inefficiency which protects him.”

Ah, the leg of lamb. Bought, with the very best of intentions for Easter Sunday, but what happened was, I was in bed with an inner ear infection most of Easter Saturday. I did struggle out of bed to make an extremely nice chicken stir fry which nobody ate, primarily, I think because I wasn’t there to set the table and serve it.

I wasn’t up to the full roast lamb ensemble on Easter Sunday so we had Saturday’s stir fry to save me making a dinner.

But now it was Easter Monday and payment had come due. That roast lamb with the spikes of rosemary and garlic and the roast potatoes and the red wine gravy and all the rest was coming between my husband and his sleep.

The thought of it made me want to go back to bed.

He felt like he’d been fasting for days, he complained. He was starving.

“You had chicken stir fry yesterday,” I pointed out “and you only missed your dinner the day before because you couldn’t be bothered to get up and get it for yourself.”

What about the roast lamb, he wanted to know.

“I should be writing my column,” I replied.

“I’m already a day late.”

“You should be making roast lamb,” he grumbled.

“That’s already a day late too. You promised.”

“I’m a Covid survivor,” I argued.

“I still have Long Covid. The research says I have to carefully pace myself.”

“Just shove it into the oven, there, like a good girl,” he said. ”I’ll peel the potatoes.”

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