Thursday, August 6, 2009

Peace, and Then It's Gone

Last night my family left. And I washed dishes.

It had been weeks, months, since I'd handwashed a dish, save an errant pot. It had been hours, days, since I'd had any time to myself. So I shooed them to the pool and eyed the sinkful of cups and plates and odd things, the ones that hadn't fit in the dishwasher's last load.

Silence--finally--fell over the house.

At the sink, I lost myself in the blue of the Dawn, the slip of the bubbles. I focused on the pull of my hamstrings as they stretched to lock my knees, felt the cold metal hardware as I leaned my forehead into the cabinet. My fingers swam the warm water, not quite as hot as I like it to be.

I'd forgotten how peaceful and relaxing washing dishes could be. I was reminded how important--no, dire--quiet is for this thinker, writer, woman.

I hummed a song. I plotted dinner. I heard my thoughts.

I summoned the main character from my WIP, whom I hadn't seen in at least a week. She stood next to me at the sink; we chatted just a bit. But before I could beg her to stay the evening, my family returned and she made a graceful exit.

The dishes were done.

The peace, gone until next time.

32 comments:

Kristen Painter said...

There's something about water that seems to spark the creative juices.

Melanie Avila said...

I agree with Kristen. I hope you had a nice visit with your MC.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Oh for those peaceful moments! It's amazing how the ideas begin to flow in simple things like being alone washing dishes!

JKB said...

I love those kind of moments. :-)

Hope she told you some nice things.

Rebecca Nazar said...

Ahhhhh, when all is still. I'm not found of washing dishes, though.

Cindy said...

You're right, washing dishes is peaceful. Especially when the world is quiet. Especially when you don't feel rushed to be anywhere else :)

Lori said...

I think that Agatha Christie once said that she got the idea for her murders while washing dishes. She probably didn't enjoy it as much as you.

Analisa said...

Great Post!

I can remember the first deep stirrings of my imagination as a kid when I washed dishes. The knife was the leading man, the folk would be the pretty but not so nice girl and the spoon was the cute girl next door type that I wanted the knife to notice. I would role play with them in the suds. Most days now I combine dish washing with a call I need to make. Maybe today I will wash them in silence.

Janna Qualman said...

Kristen - Man, you're right. Showers, especially!

Melanie - It was too short. :(

Donna - I need more of them!

JKB - Me, too. :)

Becca - I, um, wouldn't choose to do them that way on a regular basis. ;)

Cindy - It's rare but awesome, huh?

Lori - ROFL!

Analisa - You'll have to report back. :)

Stephanie Faris said...

Maybe I need to try chatting with my heroine the next time I'm writing a book involving grown-ups. My current heroine is 13, so I'm not sure how much of a conversationalist she'd be.

Sharla said...

Hate washing dishes, so that wouldn't be my peaceful time, my inner thoughts wouldn't be nice... LOL!

But I do like those visits with my mc, although it's more like a possession than a visit. I jump inside her brain and explore, and it's usually while driving.

Glad you had a peaceful moment! Ship them off more often! LOL.

Lazy Writer said...

I think I'll enjoy washing the dishes from now on. I love those quiet moments when your mc comes to visit.

scarlethue said...

Silence is so important. That's the best part of my ride home from work every day, and now of my indoor bike ride too. It's the only time I can truly hear myself.

Kathryn Magendie said...

What Kristen said - yes, taking a shower, washing dishes, at the beach, the creek in front of my house -- water - I am a water sign, but ironically I can't swim a lick...I was always terrified of water and all I can figure is my maw maw told me that when i was little, someone tried to drown my sorry little self under the faucet!

Here's to your peace and quiet and cleaned dishes *smiling*

Tess said...

this is such a beautifully written post....can't wait to pull your novel from a shelf someday. If it's like this, I'm going to love it.

Janna Qualman said...

Stephanie - LOL! She might be a bit shy and awkward, I can imagine.

Sharla - School starts soon, and I'll relish the quiet moments that brings.

Lazy Writer - I've made a conscious effort to avoid dishes, since I have a dishwasher. But I might have to make it a regular activity!

scarlethue - I think you and I are a lot alike in that respect.

Kat, I can appreciate all you may have gone through, because it gives you such depth and adds an amazing, insightful beauty to your writing.

Tess - Thank you so so so so much. I think posts like this one are very indicative of my written voice, and I can't tell you how much your comment means to me. It's a further push to keep at it.

WendyCinNYC said...

That was nice, Janna. I felt peaceful just reading it. We all need moments like that, away from the noise and clutter of the world (and the internet!)

T. Anne said...

That you found peace in dishes amazes me. i usually race to get the housework done. Funny how it never ends...

Jessica said...

Mmmmm, what I wouldn't give for a smidgen of quiet.

Jody Hedlund said...

Glad you could get a moment of solitude! Is your hubby feeling better? Ah, don't you just love the peace that settles over your soul once the house is absolutely silent? I need those moments periodically!

JLC said...

Wow! Great post! It is so cool to read about other writers and know that I am not an odd ball, I am creative!

My mind drifts when I iron hubby's shirts. I never wanted to be 'that' kind of housewife before, but one day I thought it would be a nice thing to do for him. I never knew how therapeutic it was. Now it is a weekly routine.

Jeanette Levellie said...

As much as I love music, something about silence and soapy water helps me relax and regroup.

Great post!
Jen

Terri Tiffany said...

Beautifully written!! I love the words you used to describe something usually mundane. Now you got to find time to write! SHe is waiting!

Kathy said...

I wish I had a dishwasher. I hand wash dishes about 3 times a day.

When I was growing up my mother used to say, "I have 4 dishwashers. Nancy, Kathy, Dot, and Rose."

We used to hate that.

Janet said...

Anybody who writes at all with small children in the same house deserves a special kind of reward.

Janna Qualman said...

Wendy - I'm glad you enjoyed it!

T. Anne - Oh, don't I know it. I wish I could find the end of housework!

Jessica - I bet you deserve some quiet. :)

Jody - He's much better, thank you!

JLC - Maybe we're onto something. If we could market chores as a brainstorming tool...

Jen - And we all need to relax and regroup once in awhile. :) Thanks for commenting!

Terri - I got a little done with her this morning, but then was gone most of the day. Maybe, just maybe, tomorrow.

Kathy - Sneaky thing. ;)

Janet - You won't ever hear me say it's easy.

Carole said...

Doing dishes can be a blessing in many ways - I enjoyed reading your post today - it gives me something to ponder the next time I do dishes - which is every day since we do not have a dishwasher!

Janna Qualman said...

Carole - Thank you! I hope you find some peace with your next batch. :) And I think I know who you are! I recently met your daughter (and granddaughter) in person, and they were real dolls. It was such a pleasant visit. ;)

Woman in a Window said...

Oh Janna, this was peaceful lovely. Just about any of us can relate to this. Beautiful.

Janna Qualman said...

Woman - I'm really glad you enjoyed it. :)

Deb Shucka said...

Washing dishes is that same exact thing for me. So is ironing.

Janna Qualman said...

Deb - We just use the tumble press on our dryer ;), but maybe I should consider ironing for the sake of brainstorming.