Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Clean Carpets and Clean Manuscripts

Last week I did what I dread. I pulled out my carpet shampoo-er. It was time. Long past time.

To get the dirty deed done, first I had to move a ton of furniture into the garage and to the side of the room. This involved silk plants and magazine racks and the rocking chair and a couple of lamps and the little bookcase with all the kids' piano books. And the kitchen table and chairs. And tipping the loveseat up on its side and balancing it against the window casing. And shoving the long couch up against the front window where no one walks or drags trikes or sleds or rollerskates so the carpet is still relatively bluish there, as opposed to the brown-grey-blue of the heavy traffic areas.

In this house, with these feet, everywhere is a heavy traffic area.

Then, it was the vacuums. I make that plural because the big one, my Hoover Platinum, vacuums the middle of the floor, and the hand-held with the wand gets the edges of the room. Man, that thing has a loud, high-pitched wail. Good thing I put in earplugs, or I'd be sitting here enjoying the strains of tinnitis instead of Phineas and Ferb being piped in from the other room.

How long does it usually take me to vacuum? Like 15 minutes? More or less. This time, I think I clocked in at three times that long. There was just that much dirt lurking. Ground in cold cereal, thanks to the little girls doll tea parties. Hey, I had a bad year for housework. It happens.

FINALLY, I pulled out Old Reliable. Er, Old Soapy. Or whatever it is I'm going to name that shampoo-carpeter (as my sister calls it.) The Hoover SteamVac. It's pretty heavy. And it's loud. And it requires vacuuming at a snail's pace with something twice as cumbersome as my regular vac.

It took me five (count 'em five) hours of push and pull to get through the living room and hallway. Forget the bedrooms. Every time I emptied that rinse basin, I cringed. How could that black sludge be all around us?


When I finished, I couldn't just stop. The black sludge sickened me. I had to make another pass. Against the better judgment of my impending back-pain, I got up my courage and made another pass.

Guess what. No black sludge! Yes!

Sure, there was brown sludge this time, but it wasn't black this time. A little cleaner! So happy.

After that pass, I realized it could use another rinse. However, I'd been at it for hours, and all I could do was crawl into the passenger seat of our suburban and say, "Sweetie, can you, just, please, uh, drive me through McDonalds. Need. Hamburger. Need. Yogurt. Please?"

My sweetie did. Those yogurt parfaits deserve a place in the candy pantheon. I love them.

So. My point is this. The first time I went through my manuscript to edit it, it made me sick. Pulling out black sludge. Chunks of goo. Bad, bad, murky nasty. It made me want to quit.

But I kept at it. The second time, it was more like brown sludge. Less goo. More clarity. And the third time, even cleaner.

Now, on my umpteenth read-through, it's a lot cleaner. My critique pals are pointing out the typos, rather than the glaring plot errors, for the most part, and it's encouraging.

So, to get a clean draft, it might take a lot of passes to get there. It's worth it! Here at home my carpet is almost blue everywhere again. I walk through and it's spongy fluff, rather than brownish matted ick. What a change! I feel the same way about my manuscript. With every pass it improves.

Of course, like with any analogy, it can be taken too far. The wash cycle can actually start wearing away at the fibers of the carpet, and likewise over-editing can start chipping away at the charm and life of the story. Be gentle and selective and careful.

Now. Enough of that. I have been thinking about that yogurt parfait and how a lot of things ought to be included in the Candy Family. How did that biology chant go? Kingdom, phylum, class...Who knows. Anyhow, it's my firm belief that many cold cereals belong firmly in in the candy family. For sure any that list its first ingredient as sugar just flashes "candy!" at you. Apple Jacks? Candy. Froot Loops? Totally candy. Those taste a lot like Skittles to me. Sugar Smacks...burned candy. What about anything that is half sugar-coated oat flour and half marshmallows? Undeniably candy.

Bill Cosby had a skit about fatherhood where his kids were chanting something about chocolate cake for breakfast. Not a bad idea. But candy/cereal -- just a good substitute for that on days we don't feel like baking before the morning meal.

Bring on the sugar. I'll have mine in honey nut flavor today, please.


  1. Cleaning the carpets is one of the more difficult tasks at home, especially when you have to move a ton of heavy stuff before you can actually start cleaning anything. >_<

  2. @Brain--couldn't agree more! It's like cleaning in order to clean. Boo on that!

  3. Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!


  4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSLoYIXK110&feature=player_embedded
    Thanks for such an informative article. It’s more helpful.


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