Friday Speak Out!: On My Knees... In Front of the Toilet

Friday, September 25, 2015
by Sioux Roslawski

Oh, I'm not talkin' 'bout hurling after a night of too many margaritas. I'm such a lightweight, one glass of wine and I'm dancing on top of a table. (Of course, my friends think alcohol—when it comes to me—is not necessary. I'm combustible when I'm totally sober.)

No, I'm talking about how cleaning the toilet is just like the writing process.

I was reading Cathy Hall's post. The smartie-pants that she is, she's found a way to write and keep her house clean and maintain great hair—all at the same time. Her mention of when she cleans her bathrooms made me connect writing to scrubbing that porcelain germ magnet.

When it comes to cleaning the bathroom (and yes, that is singular... I would literally kill for another bathroom), I dread it. I have to force myself. It's the same with writing (sometimes). I figure that this time the words aren't going to flow... that I'll just sit there staring at my laptop, the cursor unmoving.

However, once I sit down and start, it becomes a joy. And I'm thrilled once I get some words down. (I'm also pleased when the toilet smells fresh and all the gunk is gone. Thrilled? No. Pleased? Yes.)

The scariest moment when cleaning the toilet is when you lift up the seat. If there's a man who lives in the house with you (or shudder! teenaged boys), there are things that lurk under that seat. The scariest part of writing is revising. You have to lift the lid off your piece and study the underside. What kind of plot holes are hiding in your story? What stilted dialogue is lurking on your pages? You have to be thorough with the scrub brush. You also have to be thorough with your critical eye. Every bit of poop needs to be gotten rid of—when it comes to the toilet and your WIP.

And finally, when your toilet is sparkling clean and fresh-smelling, it's satisfying. (Of course, if there are males in your home, the delightful odors are quite fleeting... so breathe in deeply while you can.) There's a pleasant feeling of accomplishment when you get a simple job like that done. It's the same with writing. When you're able to take a blank page and transform it into something smelly... and then you're able to transform that poopy piece into something that sparkles—well, it's more than satisfying.

So... assuming your toilet has been recently scrubbed, get busy. And write.

* * *
Sioux Roslawski is a “mother” to 22 (during the school day) and when she's not teaching 3rd graders, she's rescuing golden retrievers, she's writing, and she's spoiling her granddaughter. She's had her stories published in more than a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul collections... and dreams of one day finishing her WIP... You can read more of Sioux's stuff at



Margo Dill said...

All of these posts about cleaning and how you are learning from it. . .hmmm. . .I'm still thinking about this one. :)

Cathy C. Hall said...

I will never look at a manuscript the same way, Sioux. Or smell it the same way, either, come to think of it.

(And P.S. you certainly have a way of bringing an image

Renee Roberson said...

Now I know what my problem is --- I don't clean my toilets enough!

But seriously, great analogy, Sioux. None of my manuscripts are sparkling clean and fresh yet. I need to give them the attention I give the rest of my house when I decide I "can't write until I've cleaned the house from top to bottom!"

Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--Just say no (to housecleaning) and write. At least occasionally.

Cathy--Hey, YOU started it.

Renee--Neither are mine. In fact, I just keep flushing and flushing and flushing. I'm not at the scrubbing stage yet.

Donna Volkenannt said...

Hi Sioux,
This is an usual way to approach the writing process. But when I think about it, it makes sense.

Pat Wahler said...

Sioux, when it comes to scrubbing a toilet (ugh!) or working on my manuscript (h'mmm, maybe not so bad) it's a no brainer. You just provided motivation for me to sit down and write.

Critter Alley

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

This is a nicely polished piece of advice. I admit that it doesn't motivate me to tidy the toidy, but I can say that I'll think of you the next time I "lift the lid" on a revision. :)

Bookie said...

Great job here! I'll admit to feeling and saying some sewer words when I write. But your right, feeling good is only a swish and flush away. I need to bypass the bowl and head to the keyboard!

Linda O'Connell said...

Great analogy. and yes, once you clean it up, you can be proud of what's under the lid. This was an enjoyable and fun piece!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Donna--Well, it's what occurred after I read Cathy Hall's post and thought about my poopy writing...

Pat--I'm glad my toilet post spurred you into writing.

Lisa--I'm just as reluctant when it comes to the porcelain throne...

Claudia--"Bypass the bowl and head to the keyboard" is great advice.

Linda--Some pieces need more cleaning up than others.

Val said...

Heh, heh. Linda said ANALogy! Sorry. My thirteen-year-old self could not resist that. You have really stirred the pot with this post.

Now I am neglecting my writing because I have THREE toilets, and THREE men in the house! I did buy a double pack of Lysol toilet bowl cleaner Sunday. Maybe they should make a triple pack.

loonyhiker said...

I love this analogy!! I never thought about it that way but you really hit the nail on the head. Great post!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Val--Why is your mind ALWAYS in the toilet? Perhaps you listened to too much J.D. Blackfoot in your teenaged years? (One of the songs he wrote was called, "I Flushed You From the Toilet of My Heart.")

THREE toilets? I have bathroom envy...

Pat--I'm glad I was able to make a dump... er, a poop... er, a point.

Lynn said...

What a great post. I love your humor and it makes writing feel less poopy.

Tammy said...

Great analogy. And I have to admit, there's a certain amount of satisfaction when all is done and sent off on its way. Plus I'm still laughing at what Lynn said.

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