That Lived-in Look
It was something my mother would use to judge a home we had visited. If it had a pristine, dust-free, clutter-free look, she would say that it lacked that lived-in look to it. Everything was in its place, no toys about, no magazines left bent as if being read, no blankets left on the couch or dishes in the sink. “It’s just too sterile for anyone to really live in it. It must be terrible to be one of those kids in that house.”
However, back at home, my father would follow us around tidying up after us in order to keep the house clean. If you left something on a table for longer than five minutes, it was suddenly back where it belonged and you were starting over.
I am a mixture of both. I don’t mind my mess, but heaven help if one of the girls or the kids leaves something out of place. “What’s a matter? You too lazy to pick this up and put it back where it belongs? I mean, the sink is only two extra feet away.” I avoid the 9 year-old’s bedroom at all costs. How she finds anything in there, I will never know.
At the moment, our house has more of a hurricane look to it rather than a lived-in feel. We’re in the middle of redecorating several of the rooms and things are in disarray. It doesn’t look lived-in so much as surrendered. Yet, I know it won’t last long. We’ve ordered new furniture which is on its way and the girls are picking out knick-knacks and curtains and painting some of the things we’ve had. In the end it’s going to look amazing, I know. It’s just this transitional period that is getting on my nerves. We’ll get there; it just won’t be fast enough.
I feel that way about my editing at times. I start out with a first draft that gripped my imagination and spurred me on to click away at the keys and watch the words flow before my mesmerized eyes. It looks neat and put together, everything in its place for the most part. And then the revisions start. Chunks of prose get cut and tossed to the side, red ink crosses out lines and corrects spelling as well as grammar, and changes are made that strengthen up the story and give it a fresher look. It’s the redecorating part of the whole writing process and sometimes it can seem like chaos has hit the story. It definitely has that lived-in look to it. However, I know in the end it is going to look amazing and be a smoother, more engaging read.
Anytime we change something there is a period of transformation where everything is in disarray. It cannot stay pristine while being shuffled around and repositioned. Those periods can have their own challenges and get on everyone’s nerves, but as long as the final goal is kept in mind, it won’t seem so bad. Hoping, that is, that you do have an end game in mind. If you have no vision for what will come about in the end, then you may live forever in the flux of transition. Change should have a goal, something that you are aiming for, to accomplish. Keep that vision in mind and move forward at the pace that fits you and your goal.
That is part of my problem. I want it finished now. I want the house put back together. I want Losing Faith through the revision process. I want the 9 year-old to clean her room. Some of those will happen in time and the end product is going to be well worth the wait. I’m not going to hold my breath on the 9 year-old cleaning her room, though. I’ll just keep shutting the door and say, my mom would approve. It’s definitely lived in.
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