Snubbed by a Plumber

Things have been falling apart in our house lately. First the kitchen sink started leaking. Then the toilet started leaking. Then another toilet decided to stop flushing altogether, which instantly brings you back into the middle-ages and reaffirms your love affair with modern plumbing and disappearing bodily waste.

So over the past few weeks I have been establishing a first-name basis relationship with the local plumber. Let’s call him Bob.

Bob is an older fellow, knowledgeable far beyond the physics of plumbing. Over his three recent visits we have talked about my writing, the perils of working from home, and the frustrations of parenting.

Yesterday in between plunging the precariously full bowl of my upstairs toilet and a gentle lecture on P bends and air flow in pipes, he asked me how my writing was going.

‘Oh well, I am pretty busy with the kids at the moment…’

‘I am struggling with my novel because I am more used to writing short-form articles…’

‘The school holidays are almost here…’

‘It’s hard to get adequate paid work…’

Bob straightened up and pointed the plunger at me.

‘You know what it sounds like to me, if you don’t mind me saying…’ he started to say.

I leaned forward – would he have the solution to my problems?

‘It sounds like a discipline problem to me.’ And he flushed the toilet and everything went away.

I was floored, but only because it was the simple truth. I have no obstacles to my writing, except myself. I have the same number of hours in my day as everyone else, and I probably have significantly fewer constraints than many others.

On the weekend I went to a Writers’ Convention and my first session was Overcoming Obstacles to Writing by the amazing Annabel Smith. She too (in a more roundabout way and with significantly less raw sewage) came to the same conclusion.

And so I am breathing life back into this blog, not (only) as a way to procrastinate, but I find that any form of creative writing is like mental exercise for me, a way to start jogging before the marathon of the novel.

And even though Bob farewelled me with the comment ‘Well I hope I don’t have to see you again anytime soon’ (and I am sure he meant that in the nicest possible way), I am hoping that the next time our paths (or plungers) cross, I will have a much better response when he asks me how my writing is going – with no more excuses.

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