I’ve been thinking about hoarders all day.

How hoarders never clean their windows, because over the weekend that’s precisely what we did.

Anyone who owns a house with older windows knows you have to wash out the sills and repaint them every so often. Hadn’t done it for a while, so just this last weekend we did that.

Oh, I’m still sore!

Windows are so heavy! And cumbersome to get in and out! And washing them makes you sweat because you have to wipe them so many times or else there’ll be smudges and lint and they won’t be perfect.

My husband has a lot of older aunts. And my mom and my mother in law, they’re getting on in years too, and it seems the older they get the fussier they get when it comes to cleanliness.

And you know what? I find I’m getting that way too.

And while I was scrubbing and wiping and sanding and preparing the sills so my hubby could paint them pristine white, I thought I bet the ‘nice’ thing about being a hoarder would be that you’d never do this stuff!

Whenever it came to any of this house maintenance stuff, you’d just go shopping or something.

It’s tempting!

And yet it’s not at the same time.

I work for the moment that the final pane of gleaming glass is put in place, and I can sigh with satisfaction and think, “Wow! I’m so much better than those hoarders!”

See? I’ve got the fortitude to actually work through the pain and take care of my house!

I’m worthy.

So I washed up the dining room window and gave it to my husband to put in place, and wouldn’t you know he got smudgy fingerprints on one of the edges!

And because the windows are older, it’s very hard to put them in place without doing just that!

“Leave it.” said my husband. “It’s still plenty clean enough.”

But you see my seat at the dining room table faces that window. And from past experience I just know that every time I look at it, I won’t see all the nice fresh clean-ness. I’ll see that smudge! And I’ll feel inadequate.

So you know I had to take out the window panes and wipe it down.

Writing is like that too.

Never satisfied!

I sent the hajj novel off to my agent a few weeks ago. They sent it to a reader who submitted such a glowing report that I’ve never read before!

It actually kind of disturbed me. It was a bit overwhelming.

I kept reading and rereading the hajj novel to understand how good it was.

And then, more recently, my agent basically agreed with the reader, and finally it’s going to be submitted to publishers.

But the problem with reading and rereading the novel like that is that I saw a few typos.

Oh, nothing big. Just a few words that spell check didn’t catch.

They’re like smudges on an otherwise clean window pane and darn it they’re driving me crazy!

I wanted so much to send my agent the new ‘clean’ version, but I didn’t. I told myself it’s good enough for now. We can fix that later in the editing.

I feel like I’m entering a new phase of my writing career. It feels really monumental.

My creative process seems to be shifting.

Before I relied heavily on inspiration.

I’d wait till the story flowed right out of me, effortlessly, and often that meant I’d have to wait a LONG time!

I guess you could say the hajj novel did flow out of me. It’s still only been about nine months for me to write it.

But recently I realized one thing. It’s based on the times that I witnessed the deaths of three very important people in my life. No. Actually four.

In January of 2000 one of my husband’s nephews passed away of cancer. He was fourteen and I went down to Sick Kids every day for the last two weeks of his life. I didn’t actually nurse him. I didn’t have to. I took care of his mom, who was attending to him.

That was hard!

Then in 2003 my older sister Bushra died.

I watched her slowly deteriorate.

And in 2004 one of my husband’s cousins died of complications of lupus.

But really you have to include the 20 year old friend of mine, about 28 year years ago, who died of leukemia.

Bits of her are kind of in the novel too.

Didn’t set out writing about the four of them, but I can definitely see, now that the story is done, glimpses of each and everyone of them in there.

And I thought to myself, wow, that’s a pretty long gestation period.

Guess I’d been carrying their deaths in me for that many years and it just poured out of me with this hajj novel.

My daughters were the ones who told me that within the family I’m kind of the ‘death’ person.

I help minister to people who are dying.

Not sure why, it’s just something that happens.

And funnily enough, while I was working so hard at the windows, I thought to myself that at least my fourteen year old protagonist would never have to do such hard labour! So there are some upshots of being so sick–although I really would rather clean the windows than be that sick.

They’re done. I can just finish washing the curtains. (that’s a chore too!)

And pretty soon I can get back to the writing–which often doesn’t seem like work!

At least not compared to washing windows.