The value of laundry

I heard a Spark interview last week with Mason Currey, author of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. He was asked what commonalities he found in the habits of successful creative types and he suggested working at the same time each day, drinking coffee, and taking long walks.

rituals

I have the first two of those covered, but I was a little perturbed by the third. It was raining buckets at the time, which didn’t help. And I spent a while thinking, without success, about how to fit a long nature walk into my day. I get up early in the morning to work out, before anyone else in the house is awake. I write for a couple hours after I drop the kids off at school. My afternoons are mainly spent on family concerns. Making sure there’s food and clean clothes available. Shuttling children to and from activities. Taking my daughter to the toy store because she’s saved ten dollars and absolutely MUST buy miniature elastic bands with it NOW or her life will end too early.

I can see the value in a long walk, to mull over one’s creative work. I just can’t see the time. Because, you know, miniature elastic bands.

As these thoughts were circling, I was periodically reading tweets by my friend Deryn Collier, who has undertaken a search for an office so as to create space between her writing life and her laundry pile.

And this got me thinking about my own relationship with laundry.

When I cook, I turn the radio on. When I shuttle, I listen to children’s chatter. (Neon elastics. Glitter elastics. Shortage of red elastics.) But when I fold laundry, I do so in silence. And that’s when I often figure out what the problem is with THAT scene, or what needs to come next in my current book, or how exactly to organize my new proposal.

It seems that laundry might be my time to philosophize.

I won’t be looking for an office (or new walking shoes) anytime soon. And maybe Mr. Currey can add “folding” as a writer’s ritual in his next book.