Jennifer Hillier

Control freak

Aug 5, 2009 | Uncategorized

You can always tell I’ve been writing when my desk is neat.

It’s when I’m not writing that my space is disorganized.

I can’t put a word to a page without first paying all our bills, ensuring every book on my shelf is in alpha order according to the author’s last name, and the house is reasonably clean.  Yes, house.  As in, the entire house, kitchens and bathrooms included.

Something about a messy space distracts me.  Last month, when I couldn’t seem to get motivated after New York, I looked around and realized I could see lint on the carpet.  I could see dust on our wood furniture.  I could see paw prints on the windows.  It suddenly hit me that it had been a couple of weeks since I’d really cleaned, and it was unbelievably distracting.  So I spent an entire day cleaning the hell out of the place.  And anyone who knows me at all knows that when I clean, I mean business.  It’s not about neatening things up. It’s not about rearranging loose stacks of paper into esthetically appealing piles.  It’s about spraying, wiping, and sucking every speck of dirt – visible or otherwise – into oblivion.  It’s about throwing everything unnecessary into a garbage bag. I’m not a pack rat, never have been.

Once I got the house looking and smelling rosy, I was able to work.

Can you say:  Control freak?

See also: Anal retentive.

(Clearly I’m reading Pahlaniuk right now…)

It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even nag Steve do stuff around the house.  I ask him once, it gets done.  He knows it’s not worth the argument. It also helps that if I need something done, I let him know days in advance.  I learned a long time ago that he doesn’t share my sense of immediacy when it comes to home cleanliness.  Men don’t like to be told to vacuum the stairs when they’re watching baseball.  Carpet lint just doesn’t hold the same importance as the Blue Jays.

Creativity, for me, springs from a happy place.   A secure place.  A feeling that I am loved.  And, most importantly, a feeling that I’m in the driver’s seat, and not just a passenger content to watch through slightly tinted windows as the world rushes by.  I write best when my house is clean, my husband is happy, our finances are under control, and there’s a fridge full of food.  Everything has to jive… or nothing jives.

There’s no in between.

It’s a lot of pressure to put on myself, I know.  To keep everything perfect and balanced just so I can work.

Can you say:  Perfectionist?

See also:  Unrealistic.

Because nobody’s perfect all the time.  And if the success of my writing depends on my ability to keep my life perfect, I’m in big trouble.