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When it smells

By September 16, 2009How To, Writing

clothespinFor those of you who don’t know, I live in a house with Clivus composting toilets. They are brilliant, easy (except for when I have to do a monthly ‘rake’ of the compost, ew) and really, really good for the environment.

Cleaning out the crapper

Twice a year, the Clivus guys show up and ’empty’ the compost. These brave, young lads shovel the ‘dirt’ into wheelbarrows and take it deep into our woods to become one, again, with the earth. To put it mildly, this process makes our house smell to high hell because they have to keep the compost container that lives in our basement open for an extended period of time while they shovel.

Today was one of those days. And my house smelled like rotten eggs and, are you really going to make me say it?, crap. It was bad, and drastic steps were made to clear out the smell when they left – fans, open windows, crucifixes.

A Dirty Writer

Last night, I was at a networking event where I met another writer. Though, unlike me, she is called by Fiction. She’s written seven books that, apparently, are quite racy. As she described them to me, I said, “Oh, kind of like Twilight, but dirty?” To which she responded, “Yes, but no vampires.” Fine, whatever, sign me up.

As we discussed our writing styles and processes, she told me that she’s part of a local writer’s group. I got all excited because it’s something that I’ve kind of always wanted to do…but, she kind of hemmed and hawed in her enthusiasm. Turns out the head of the group has a hard time with her ‘material’. He blushes and he giggles (do you actually need me to psychoanalyze that part?), but – worse – he tells her things like he doesn’t think the sexual explicitness is pertinent to her story.

After making several amusing comments at his expense, I looked her right in the eye and said, “You need to find another group.” At first, she kind of looked at me funny. So I told her that she didn’t need to or deserve to be part of any writer’s group where people couldn’t handle or see, objectively, the merit of her work. Her response? “Oh my god, you’re right!”

I don’t think anyone should encircle yourself with Yessers, by any means, but letting this man be part of her regular feedback, filling her writer’s bastion of self-criticism on a consistent basis? W.R.O.N.G. and Not. Okay.

My conclusions

Recently, I’ve been surrounding myself with joyful, positive, smart people. They are not Yessers. They challenge me, ask me stupefying questions, push me to shine. Let me tell you: it’s good.

As writers, hey – even as people, we are taught to self-judge and self-doubt. Why should we stand to be around people that feed into that? I think it stinks.

So take a look around and see if anyone is polluting your air, and then:

1. On a regular basis, clean out all the crap.

2. Open the windows, turn on the fans, grab those crucifixes….and make sure that you get rid of every trace of the smell.

Image credit: Archie McPhee

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