(I never thought I would write this.) A few years ago while I was helping my sister-in-law prepare a Thanksgiving feast for a crowd of family and friends, we stood at the kitchen sink peeling potatoes. She pointed out that I was able to peel about five potatoes in the time that she was able to peel one. Because of my chore filled upbringing, I’m also really fast at snapping beans, shelling peas, and shucking corn, and here’s why: I didn’t like snapping beans, shelling peas or shucking corn. I also didn’t like mopping floors, scrubbing toilets, or washing windows. But I did all of that and more. And because the sooner I finished the sooner I could play, I learned to do them fast, efficiently and well, because shoddy work just prolonged the ordeal.
Because my garden in Orange County is about the size of postage stamp, today I rarely snap beans, shell peas or shuck corn, but when I do, I’m still pretty fast.
I accredit what I learned while doing chores to a few things:
Muscle memory. Muscle memory is good for more than just drudgery, it’s also useful for playing an instrument, shooting free throws and hitting home runs. When I taught piano lessons, I explained to my students that the reason we practice over and over is so that our fingers can learn what to do without any interference from our pesky, thinks-it-knows-it-all brain.
Efficiency. “By the yard it’s hard, but by the inch it’s a cinch.” Efficiency helps you take a large hairy, ugly task and break it down into bite size pieces. Just like a marathon is one step at a time, a novel is one word upon another, and a wall is built brick by brick. Doing chores taught me how to line up the ducks and shoot them down one at a time.
Doggedness. This is the ability to keep on going when you really, really, really want to quit. When you’re tired, when you’re not feeling up to snuff, and when everyone tells you that you’re wasting your time. And sometimes doggedness is silly, but all in all, it’s a useful to trait to be able to pull out of your hat when the time is write, I mean right.
You might wonder why I’m grateful for the chores my parents made me do umpteen years ago when today I can hire people to do the drudgery for me. Here’s just a few examples from recent experiences.
Last Saturday I hosted a party at my house. 70 people came. Saturday morning my house looked like this because the painters who were supposed to be done painting my house on Friday were not. Also, the house guests that were supposed to arrive on Saturday night changed their plans and arrived on Friday afternoon. (They had to sleep in sleeping bags on the floor.) At one point, I knew that there was a possibility that all my planned entertaining might have to shift from my living room to the back yard, but there was also a part of me that knew I could pull my house together. And I did. Although after the guests arrived I noticed that I had forgotten to dust the piano. No one mentioned it, and I don’t know, or care, if anyone noticed.
A month ago I enrolled my book Witch Ways in the kindle scout program. You can read about that here: The Kindle Scout Program
I pretty much hate promoting my books and I knew that to be successful in the program, promoting would need to happen. This is what I did:
I sent out a newsletter telling people that if they nominated my book they could potentially get it for free.
I posted the same thing on about 40 Facebook “promote your book here” pages.
I made up business cards and handed them out to people.
For about two weeks my book rode the hot and trending list. When it fell off, I:
Contacted the 300 plus people who had signed up for my book in a recent online contest.
Sent an email to friends and family.
Posted a link and a plea on Facebook.
Contacted more than 100 Goodreads people.
My book returned to the Kindle Scout hot and trending list and it stayed there for the duration. (My campaign is over now. I should hear yea or nay from Amazon in a few days.)
I don’t think riding the hot and trending list will secure me an Amazon contract, but it can’t hurt. Besides, now that it’s over, I can honestly say I did my part. I played hard.
I have often thought that growing up doesn’t necessarily happen when you graduate, marry or turn a certain age. Being a grown up means that you’re able to do the things you don’t want to do because they must be done. Being a grown up means putting your hand down a stuck garbage disposal when it’s full of debris, cleaning up a loved-one’s vomit, unclogging a poopy toilet, and getting rid of the dead bird in your back yard. It’s being able to put on your big girl panties and get a nasty job done even when you really, really don’t want to.
Thanks for the chores, Mom.