Monday, September 22, 2008


My writing has suffered lately in both frequency and quality of output. I’m going to blame my house.

Though there isn’t a lot of upside to a credit crisis that’s breaking banks left and right, a small plus is that it has brought south Florida real estate values within reach of first-time homebuyers. Hence my wife and I have found ourselves baptized into ownership, with all its concomitant chores. One of the first involved removing the tile floor from our very troubled kitchen.

“It’s easy,” my wife said, handing me a hammer. “You hit the tile until it breaks. Then you move on to the next one.”

(A biographical note is in order: Most of my work involves a computer. I’m not a particularly handy guy. My wife, however, grew up on a small farm in Oregon and helped her folks renovate large sections of their home. Her competence is humbling.)

I brought the hammer down hard, only to have it bounce back with a ringing bong. The tile, unharmed, stared at me mockingly.

“Keep going,” my wife urged. “I think we can finish today if we work hard.”

That didn't seem very likely to me. But I dealt the tile a half-dozen blows anyway and was rewarded with a spray of stinging shards to the face. Progress, although not the most welcome kind.

My wife pushed a pair of safety goggles at me. “Here, put these on.”

I did. I kept pounding at the tile, which split and then splintered. I discovered that if I hit the one next to it at a diagonal, aiming for the now-cleared section of floor, it would simply pop right out. We could finish it today -- if we worked hard.

(Another note: It’s difficult admitting when she’s right.)

The applications for writing are evident. There are few problems -- thorny plot issues, an endless stream of rejections, or even finding time to pick up the pen -- that won’t succumb to persistence.

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