Monday, April 26, 2010

Tools Every (Woman) Writer Needs

And, no, it's not your laptop and an internet connection.

My gentlemen followers, you may or may not benefit from this post, but please don't take offense. This is how I see it, at least right now, with three full loads of laundry glowering at me from their baskets.

Let's face it. The woman's lot is not an easy one, even if she's not a writer. If she is a writer, her misery can be multiplied by a factor of ten. First off, she's still expected to tote her weary load (i.e., keep a clean house, her children and her hubby fed, her smile, her sense of humor. Her sanity, apparently, is optional.)

Secondly, writers tend to operate at a disadvantage to the rest of the population. We writers (well, many of us) focus on the neat and tidy homes of our characters (and their not-so-neat-and-tidy lives), blinded to the towers of clutter that sneak up on us. And that's not even counting the travesties that take place during the mad rush to meet an editor's gotta-have-these-revisions-in-two-weeks-you-don't-mind-do-you?

Husbands can get pretty fed up with dinners of cereal and pizza (hey, those olives count toward five servings of veggies!), though why, I don't know. I mean, sheesh, in high school, these same guys wouldn't touch a Brussels sprout, and now they actually demand them?

And children can go through clean clothes at an alarming rate. Then they squint at you in disbelief when their favorite capris are found to be at the bottom of the dirty clothes basket.

Fortunately, there are tools to help even the woman writer cope. They should be considered as essential as a laptop.

A Roomba: a little robotic vacuum that takes three times as long to do the job, but the coolness factor makes The Husband and The Kiddo think it free entertainment. Plus, a vacuumed floor makes the house look ten times neater.

A slow cooker: again, this gadget takes three times as long to do the job, but again, you don't have to stand over it while it's doing it. Plus, the soothing smell of a non-pizza dinner calms the savage beast -- er, I mean, The Husband.

A kitchen timer: somehow this critter doesn't raise my hackles as much as The Husband's, "You DO know what time it is. You DO know that it's a school night. You DO know we haven't eaten, and you DO know we don't want pizza. Again."

A washing machine with a timer delay: if you have it, use it. My favorite trick is to put the load of clothes on in the morning and set it so that it's done when The Husband and The Kiddo get home from work and school. The Husband doesn't mind shifting clothes from washer to dryer; it's the shifting of clothes from laundry hamper to washer that he minds.

Separate bins for laundry loads: It's amazing. People who can't figure out how to sort laundry when it's all in one basket can sort as they go. Saves ten minutes each wash day.

A Steamboy mop: This little gadget is a steam mop, very good for the environment as it uses no chemicals, just steam to clean. No more dragging mop and bucket, and it's about as lightweight as your average sponge mop. Again, the coolness factor will sometimes get The Husband and The Kiddo to pitch in.

Now, if I could just write that best-seller and be the next Dan Brown, I'd hire a housekeeper, and all my troubles would be over. But first I have to go mop the kitchen floor.


Piedmont Writer said...

You are too funny Cynthia! As I read all the gadgets I kept thinking to myself, "No, I think I'd really like Alice from the Brady Bunch." A nice little housekeeper /cook.

Someday...we can dream can't we?

India Drummond said...

Best tool around the house for this writer is a teenaged boy. Mine knows how to cook too, which is awesome. On Saturday we had gnocchi with herbs. He's 15.

He's not great on the laundry yet, but I'm working on him!

I'm not looking forward to him going away to university! Who will feed me then???

Paul C said...

Entertaining post. As someone who doesn't mind cooking and cleaning, I hope I could still use these handy inventions.

Cynthia Reese said...

Anne, Alice would do nicely! I have this fictional paragon of virtue that I've dreamed up. Her name is Matilda, and she lives to iron clothes and grocery shop. Ahhh ... the bliss of a daydream!

Tee-hee, India, I keep trying to turn The Kiddo, just 8, into just such a Support Team Member ... alas, The Husband says, "Hey, I'll play bowling on the Wii with you," just about the time I ask her to set the table.

Paul C, these are LOVELY inventions, even if you adore cleaning. BTW, the cure for the adore-cleaning-syndrome is to lie down for 15 minutes. The Kiddo and The Husband will see you at Minute Two and remind you about lots and lots of things left on your To-Do list. :P

Jamie D. said...

You mop your floors? Wow. I should do that.

LOL - We don't have kids, so I am absolved of any kid-related stuff. We do have dogs though, which means we still have toys all over the floor, carpets that need vacuuming, etc.

The rule in our house though is, "If it bugs you, take care of it. No complaining about something you're not willing to take care of yourself."

Granted, this means I still end up doing the bulk of the housework, but I don't have to listen to hubby nagging about it (and vice versa). ;-)

He is lucky that I like to eat though...he doesn't cook much...

Elizabeth McKenzie said...

I love the steam cleaner idea. Fortunately for me, I have an empty nest, no kids and a self-sufficient, supporting husband. My house suffers greatly, however.

Thanks for the tips.

Lickety Splitter said...

My two favorite gadgets around the house -- a trash can and near sightedness. I can't see dust at a distance if I don't have my seeing gadgets on. There is something a bit magical about being single that I never fail to appreciate, I don't nag myself when things get out of hand.

Angie Paxton said...

Oh boy can I relate to this. I'm not sure my marriage would have survived the last year if it weren't for the slow cooker ;^)

Toby Speed said...

Another nifty gadget that I can't do without and that also dispenses luscious non-pizza smells is the rice cooker. You can cook a whole meal in this puppy in less than an hour!

Cynthia Reese said...

Jaime, when you have three cats and The Permed Dachshund and light colored laminate floors, yeah, you mop!

Elizabeth, that's it, I'm moving in with you!

Lickety Splitter -- LOL, I'm nearsighted, but I think the only one who uses the trash can around my house is yours truly.

Angie, what is it about good smells from the kitchen that reassure men that they aren't forgotten?

And Toby, I've often wondered about rice cookers. You'll have to share with me how they work, because if they can cook a meal in an hour, that would help get me out of the doghouse when I, ahem, forgot to load the slow cooker!

Linda G. said...

Ha-ha! Love your suggestions. Well, except for the Roomba. I'm sure I'd trip over one & break my neck. When I go, I do NOT want to be take out by a vacuum cleaner. ;)

Stephanie Thornton said...

I love this post!

I find I use housework to procrastinate when I should be writing. Fortunately, those monotonous tasks sometimes let my brain wander to new plot ideas I probably would have missed if sitting in front of my laptop.

And I can't wait for the editor revision crises! Bring 'em on!

Cynthia Reese said...

Linda, you won't trip over the Roomba, I promise! But if you have cats, they may chase it.

Stephanie, thanks for reminding me to be grateful for even that gut-everything-after-chapter-three request. You are so right -- I have been blessed!

Toby Speed said...

I once saw a YouTube video of a cat driving a Roomba. Hysterical. Cynthia, here's what went into my rice cooker tonight: brown rice, chicken broth, boneless chicken thighs, poultry seasoning, a bit of parsley. 50 minutes to dinner!

Shoot me your email address, I'll be glad to tell you more.

Cynthia Reese said...

LOL, Toby, the Permed Dachshund barks at the Roomba when in use, but then, PD used to bark at brooms, too.

Why does your supper sound much better than mine? I had a disaster for a supper, and it was an attempt to make The Husband happy. Off to send you an e-mail!

Cynthia Reese said...

LOL, Toby, the Permed Dachshund barks at the Roomba when in use, but then, PD used to bark at brooms, too.

Why does your supper sound much better than mine? I had a disaster for a supper, and it was an attempt to make The Husband happy. Off to send you an e-mail!

Tawna Fenske said...

I'm pretty sure I'd hit my husband over the head with a frying pan if he ever complained about what's for dinner. I love cooking, but it's a pretty solid rule around here that the person who abstains from cooking forgoes all rights to complain about the menu! :)