Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Failure To Dust Is The Path To Hell and Other Myths


The residents of Seekerville cannot be responsible for heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting or tremors caused by reading today's post.

Proceed with caution.

As we begin the new year of writing and setting goals, it's important to separate fact from fiction. Many of you are new to this journey and as seasoned writers we in Seekerville would like to address a few myths that may be standing between you and your writing. I've also tossed in a few little writing tricks we've learned around here.

1. No one ever died from a dusty house. Ever. Ask Vincent. When given the choice between writing and dusting. Write.

2. There's no such thing as a sagging middle in fiction; a myth that Seeker Mary Connealy has busted time and again. If it sags, kill someone. Preferably not the hero and heroine.

3. Readers hate heroines who are too stupid to live. Never ever under any circumstance allow her to go into the woods at night, into the basement when the light bulb has burnt out or stay in the house when the electricity goes out. Action must be supported by believable motivation.

4. Family life will suffer if you spend too much time writing.
Busted! It's all about quality not quantity. Your family will learn and grow from watching you strive to reach your goals.

5. It's never too soon to begin training your family, friends and neighbors. If it doesn't involve copious amounts of blood or large arachnids, you should not be interrupted while writing..EVER!

6. Maintain a program of exercise and hygiene even during deadline dementia. Snack on fresh veggies and fruits instead of empty calories.

7. One of our favorite terms in Seekerville is: Don't Diva. If you get a request for revisions do them. Get in there and chop, chop, chop. Remember, divas have books under their beds, in their drawers but not in bookstores.

8. Fact: most people just don't get writers (especially romance writers). We are an odd bunch. Cultivate a support group of like minded writing friends who can cheer for you, commiserate and kick you in the boo-tee when needed.

9. Learn the rules of writing, then you can break them. True or False? The older I get the more I think this is a myth. After all, good girls don't make history.

What's your opinion?

That's it. Here's hoping 2010 unleashes the creative genius in you.

And never, ever let a little dust, and screaming stop you!


Vince said...

Hi Tina:

I loved your graphics. Just what I needed before going to bed. : )

You wrote: “It's all about quality not quantity.”

I think this is also a myth. I believe that quality comes from quantity. “If you just do enough of anything, something is going to be good and perhaps even a little more will be superb. Keep on trucking.



Sigh. I don't know. I get horrible allergies, so I should probably go dust before things get really bad ;-D

Tina M. Russo said...

Vince, Vince, Vince, I am never going to be good at math. No matter how many times I do it.

Gracie, when we do lunch we'll do it at your place.

Mine is much too dusty. Achooo.

Edwina said...

I must send this to my family so they will know when there is no fresh air in the house and all they're breathing is dust, Mom is writing and they should leave me alone!!

Walt M said...

Love #8, but my wife would say no one gets me anyway.

Ruth Logan Herne said...


This is the total affirmation I've needed. I'm printing this off and tacking it up, and possibly sending it to family members who just don't get it.

If my eulogy includes, "She kept a great house" I'll come back to haunt someone. And I'm mean enough TO DO IT!!!!

Oh my goodness, you've so nailed it. And while I love Vince (waving across the mountains and rivers, Vince!) I'm going to gently disagree when it comes to children. (Not writing quantity vs. quality, you're spot on there, Vince-baby)

I think witnessing parents struggle to achieve and staying the course is good for them. I think any child of immigrants would agree that the work and struggle is worth the end result. That doesn't mean neglecting them, but not every need is an immediate one.

Even though our push-button mentality perpetuates that idea.

Tina. Bless you. I SOOOOOO needed this today. God has blessed me and you have blessed me.

And I love you both.

And I brought coffee. Gloria Jean's today, with sweet cream, soy milk or skim, a breakfast buffet of wonderfulness because we January dieters can only PRETEND to eat for a while yet, and a selection of teas for my tea-drinking buddies. Including chai.

I love a soothing cup of hot chai, smelling of cinnamon, vanilla and rich cream. Oh, yum.


Camy Tang said...

ROFL Tina I love your posts! This is so awesome! #1 has just dispelled the thread of guilt I felt at coming home from Christmas vacation to a house that smelled like musty dog.


Tina M. Russo said...

What? Edwina? I dusted in September when the Seekers came. I did it for Christmas and I'll dust for..well maybe for Spring.

Three or four times a year, certainly is overkill don't you think?

Tina M. Russo said...

Thanks, Camster. We writers have to have rules, right?

Tina M. Russo said...

Off to make the coffee and give my cats quality time.

Ruth, no donuts???

Janet Dean said...

Fun post, Tina! Not sure about #9. But I'm sure you're right about good girls not making history. Great point to keep in mind when creating our heroines.

My two housekeeping tips--

Don't aim for perfection.

Get someone else to do it.

Kids of all ages can dust, empty dishwashers, fold towels. Keep them busy and they won't have time to interrupt. This tactic may not work with husbands, but it's worth a try. If forced to dust yourself, use the tail of your shirt and swipe whatever you pass that isn't moving. :-)


Pepper Basham said...

Oh Tina!!
Fantastic post. What a relief for me! Now I just need to share this bit of info with my hubby ;-)
Clean house? Um...yeah, whatever
Quanlity? Whew, loved that one.
I loved the idea for a saggy middle - kill someone. LOL
Hmm...I need to go write ;-)

Thanks for the early morning laugh, Tina.

Pepper Basham said...

Will strawberry belgian waffles do, with whipped cream?

Rose said...


I'm glad I visit Seekerville first thing in the AM. What a great way to start the day!

I've always lived by the adage: Dull women have clean houses!

In answer to your rule breaking question...sometimes I think we do need to break the rules. I received the most personal rejection letter from an editor (this was a picture book manuscript)from a "big New York house" that in the writer's market are listed as closed to unsolitced manuscripts.

This editor took the time to tell me how well and Biblically sound the manuscript was written but why it didn't work for them.

So, breaking that "unsolitced" rule didn't result in a sale but I did garner great feedback.


Missy Tippens said...

Thanks for the good laugh this morning, Tina. :)

Janet, I love your tips as well. LOL

Shelby said...

I so agree.


cheers :)

Julie Lessman said...

Tina, Tina, Tina ... your titles alone are worth the read, girlfriend!! Love, love, LOVED the blog, but then I am a great fan of Myth-Busters (both the TV show and this blog!).

I am not prone to being a guilty person (anal, yes, but not often guilty), but I have to admit, dust and my daughter are two things that bring what guilt there is in me to its knees. As a result, point #1 has literally saved my life -- thank you!! What can you do about my daughter?

And point #9!! Ah, yes, my favorite. "Learn the rules of writing, then you can break them." I am a big proponent of this because I think self expression must win out in writing, but I am the first to concur that if I had expressed myself like I wanted to in the beginning, I wouldn't be published right now. Mmmm ... and who knows, I may never be again!

And I totally agree that more often than not "good girls don't make history." My literary idol, Scarlett O'Hara, is certainly proof of that. Poor, sweet Melanie -- did she get Clark Gable as her leading man or eat BBQ with swarms of men? Nope. Just a husband with a girl's name and a head full of dreams. Excuse me, but I'll take Rhett and action any day of the week.


Pam Hillman said...

Great post, Tina!

But I'm sitting here wondering if our friends who do keep spotless houses feel a little miffed.

BTW, I am NOT one of those!!! The cobwebs around here would make The Addams family feel right at home.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

I LOVE this post! It is one I want to print out and hang up!

#1 and #3 great, heck I like them all!

Melanie Dickerson said...

Tina says: When given the choice between writing and dusting. Write.

You didn't have to tell me this, Tina. I have let my house go for so long that I really have been considering asking for prayer on the prayer loop, that I would get motivated to clean up, especially my office. DH asked me to clean it up, and therefore, I must.

As for breaking the rules, that's a hard one. On the one hand, you don't want to be a diva about the rules, thinking you are too cool to follow rules, too talented to be bothered, dahling. But on the other hand, it's good to let your creative side take over and forget about the rules. I guess there needs to be a balance.

And I loved the pics! How fun! You are too funny, Tina.

Heidi Main said...


I enjoyed this post. Great graphics. And FUNNY!

lynnrush said...

Fantastic post!

Melanie Dickerson said...

Janet, you and I would get along great! Now if I can just make enough money to hire a maid ...

Julie, I laughed out loud at your Melanie comment!!! Too funny, too true. I've often noticed that nice girls finish last. But with God, the last shall be first. :-)

I had to add that.

Anonymous said...

i loved this posting...where did you find those pictures???

kmkuka (at)yahoo(dot)Com

Lisa Jordan said...

Oh, great post!!! I have to keep a clean house because my day job requires it, but over Christmas vacation, oh me oh my...what a wreck. It's not perfect, but it is clean.

Having your children watch as you strive for your dreams sets a good example for them--shows we're never too old to hitch our wagons to stars.

And I'm a card-carrying member of "I hate stupid heroines" club. Gah! Takes me back to some of those old Harlequin novels that my very conservative grandma hid behind her couch for my great-great aunt who visited and wanted her romance books. Of course I found them as a teenager...hehe

Erica Vetsch said...

I'm giggling. This was great. The pictures were perfect, and I knew the instant I saw the title that it was going to be great!

Thanks for the boost!

Mary Connealy said...

I just love Bette Davis with the axe, now THAT is writing. :)

Mary Connealy said...

Gracie! Don't do it!
We're here for you girl. We'll talk you through medication and a filtering mask you can wear. But the dust must be allowed to live so you can write.

I think Shakespeare said it first.

Mary Connealy said...

Tina is telling the truth. I tried to write my name in various surfaces but with no success...however...by the time we LEFT we had restored Tina's house to it's more natural ravaged state.

You're welcome, Tina. If things ever start looking tidy again, call me.

Mary Connealy said...

Oh, and I'm sure you're wrong on the 'Quality vs Quantity' issue.

I spent tons of time with my kids, but it was utterly lacking in quality...and they turned out okay.

Mary Connealy said...

Melanie, I've long ago quit praying that I'd clean up my house. I've just started praying that I'll even want to. Give me that desire, Lord, to even remember cleanliness. Put that in my heart. Make me want to want to.

So far the Good Lord has been silent and who am I to argue with God?


Pepper Basham said...

I'm feeling more spiritual because of your post.
Thank you :-)

Mary Connealy said...

I wrote a gothic romance once. Loved doing it. So fun to write. Dark and stormy night, spooky old house full of a weird and twisted family. One innocent maiden caught in the middle. Dead bodies start piling up. A hero who might save her...or might be the killer.

And so, I had to make the heroine go into the dark attic, with the electricity out, and a murderer roaming free in the house.....and I just couldn't bear to have her be stupid.

I sat at the computer, twisting and turning ideas around, how could I get her up there. What a moronic choice to go up there. Why, why, why?

Of course, I found a way. I sat at my computer laughing while I wrote it. Yes, maniacal laughter. And the family came in and stared at me.

I told them all to go away and dust something.

Vince said...

Hi Tina:

I sure won’t argue with your math analogy. : ) I felt the same way about spelling in grade school where my theory should have helped my spelling and my grades!

However, I think it all depends on POV.

After all, you have to move tons of dirt to discover a diamond. You have to practice thousands of hours to be able to perform a quality forty-five minute concerto. You usually have to pan for gold for days to find a nugget. And how many words do you have to write before you can produce a quality story?

I think guilty parents have given ‘quantity’ a bad name. : ! )

I think I’m the last defender of ‘quantity’. I’m waiting for someone to hold up the mirrors.


Tina M. Russo said...

Pepper, thanks for the waffles.

Rose, thanks for validating me.

If someone is miffed because their house is clean and mine is not they may feel free to come and clean my house. Really, I have no problem with that.

Tina M. Russo said...

Vince, did you just say I am old as dirt.

I may have read that wrong through the dust on my monitor.

Myra Johnson said...

LOL, loved this, Tina!!! I confess, I am among the world's worst housekeepers. Boring, boring, boring. You dust one day, and it's back the next.

However, one thing that will have me hauling out the cleaning supplies ASAP is trying to find a safe toilet to use after the grandsons have been visiting for a week!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, the Belgian waffles are to die for!

Yay Pepper!

Great whipped cream, too. Love it.

So Vince thinks Tina's old, Gracie has a great "Logan" name so I love her already, and Heidi is stinkin' adorable.

Sweet, all around.

And there our Tina sits at work, with limited access to Internet, wishing she could be here with us more than she can...


We should talk about her. Jazz things up a bit.

When she told me she was cleaning the office for our visit in September, I said "Don't bother. Who cares? Just shut the door."

Her answer...

"Well, that's where you're sleeping and I can't shut the door."

I very much appreciated the clean office and the bed, LOL! She got the most gracious hostess ever award.

And M&M's.

Tina Pinson said...

Joining late, Tina, but I love the post.

I can so relate to them or personify them.

I am a firm believer that dusting and vacuuming should be done at least once a quarter. Sometimes I actually have been known to do it one a month. When it measures a quarter inch is a good indicator

Methinks that's why people don't visit as often. YOU think?


I actually had someone tell me not to worry so much about the house and cleaning, when my children were little and I was trying to be miss perfection, all the while pulling my hair out.

Who'd of thought I could take the pass for writing too.

I'm with Pepper. Knowing that makes me feel more spiritual somehow.

And I can by masks to help my family breathe better


I am inclined to believe one should learn the writing rules and break them when possible. Of course we can't do that in real time, ya know. Can't learn the rules just to break them or we could find ourselves locked up.

But in writing, I think that's the beauty of it. When a writer throws a way the mold so to speak and comes out with something beyond the norm, it catches the eye. (most the time)

Besides I am a total Diva. I'm still trying to figure out why no one treats me how I want.

And writing rules aren't all written in stone.

And my heroines have to have brains, good grief, I'm a blonde for heavens sake and things that I've heard over the years and seen about air headedness, curls my toe hairs.

As for people not understanding me, we are talking about just in the writing world, right?

Okay so my strangeness does tend to flow over into to life, and I can be considered an abnormality because of my choice of topics and the fact that I can run on and on about the research I've done like a smart dork. ( and my long toe curly toe hair tends to freak them out too.)

So many facts that mean little to anyone but me.

My brain is a sponge filled with factoids and people are afraid I might get some of my knowledge on them.

Oh well, at least you guys understsand me. I'd go bonkers with out all you other strange, unkempt, rule breakers in my life

Mary Connealy said...

So, I've got this image of Tina Pinson, with a ruler, measuring the dust, then looking up, smiling, all right, I've got 1/16 of an inch to go before I have to dust.

Back to the computer. LOL

Tina M. Russo said...

Tina P, my soul sister..pass the masks.

We can take a bio hazard class together. The family that biohazards together, stays together.

Tina Pinson said...


I have 1/32 of an inch to go. I have to let the dust grow, where do you think I get all my friends from. I grow dust bunnies incase you wondered.


Biohazard soul sister of mine, I'm into being green or is that brown?
If were talking the frige, my science projects are well and thriving.

I cut the edges off the moldy american cheese slices, and frenchify the moldy bread, under all that cinnamon and eggs, with a gob of butter and syrup, no one can tell the difference.

That used to be my mother's motto, for the bread, and believe you me, you can still taste the mold.

That's okay she'd say, it's penicillin, it will keep you from getting sick. Fine thing that, except I'm allergic to penicillin...

A couple things to remember when living the bio hazardous way.

To make the masks more fun, I draw funny faces on them.

Dust bunnies do multiply quickly. Send them to your friends and give them the same delight you get. They'll think you for it.

I use a clear ruler to measure my dust, helps me see it better.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Tina, Love the post. And the visuals. smile

I do without many, many things to pay for my housecleaner. She's wonderful. She comes when I'm at Bible Study and I come home to a wonderful, clean house. It is worth not having that new outfit, dinner out, day with the girls. I mean not doing those things gives me more writing time anyway. smile

And she does my mail when I'm on the road. and feeds the feral cats.

Pepper Basham said...

Aww, what's the statistic? The average person swallows 3 cups of dirt before the age of 11? 4 cups when the household involves more than 3 children and animals.

I'm just giving my kids their proper quota :-)(and continuing to be very spiritual ;-)

Jessica said...

Oh my gosh! LOL All of these are so great I don't know what to comment on first.
I will say that while a dusty house wouldn't kill me, I feel certain dishes in the sink would. *snicker*

You're so right! Good girls don't make history.

Very funny, very great, very true post! :-)

Renee said...

I finally made it here. What a great post, Tina. Some I've learned others I still trying to get down. The not dusting thing, I've definitely got down.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Are there any neat-freak writers out there?

Are they afraid to come forth?

Men with wives DO NOT COUNT.

We could all be neat and clean if we had wives. Sheesh.

My office is embarrassing. Seriously. One of these weekends I'm devoting a few hours to it, just to see if the computer desk lurks beneath the piles. And the bookshelves...

That's the optimists name for them. Who came and visited and showed pics of her nice, neat office?

I don't remember, but I didn't like her one little bit. Are you kiddin' me????


Tina P, I'm with you. You can never have enough dust bunnies and it's so important to do our part ecologically so that the DB's don't go the way of the snail darter.


Helen Gray said...


I'm an organizer.

I didn't say cleaner. I said organizer.

I always told my kids and hubby, "It's okay to use things. Just be sure you put'em back where you got'em."

If they ever questioned the dust level I just explained that "I failed Domesticity 101, but I know exactly where my dirt is."

It's ORGANIZED! So don't bother it and don't worry about it.

They survived.


Pepper Basham said...

The culprit with the neat bookshelf was Erica
I remember because I thought...
You mean THAT's what my bookshelves look like underneath all the...um...stuff!

Please tell me YOU have a housekeeper too

Walt M said...

Ruthy, I have a wife and no one would ever accuse me of being a neat freak.

Tina M. Russo said...

Ha ha ha. You guys are a hoot.

Sisters of the Slobhood ..UNITE.

Helen, I am an organized unorganized. To the untrained eye my office is a pit. But I know where everything is. The rest of the house is very tidy. DUSTY but tidy.

Project Journal said...

Marvelous post today! My migraines have been getting increasingly worse throughout the day, especially today. This was a nice post that didn't require too much thinking...just laughing!!

Just a little tidbit(because you had a picture of Mr. Munster)...when my mom worked at our local Ho-Jos(out of business now unfortunately), the man who plays Mr. Munster came on many occasions and my mom was his waitress!! I think that's so cool : D

Another tidbit...mom HATES to dust. So, she won't. When we were little she told us that we had to dust, but we'd say that "You never dust, mom" So she's day that's why God gave her kids! Lol! My mom...man, the things she came/comes up with, eh!?

Margo Carmichael said...

The one place where you don't get to do revisions is with your little kids.

Quantity is necessary along with quality.

You don't want regrets in that area!

I'm not as adamant about the dust bunnies. They're kinda cute, going down the hall. I do Flylady.net housework routines, but routinely fall off her wagon. However, when I follow them, I'm happier and more productive. She teaches how to work smarter, not harder. Lots.

Good column, great photos. Thanks for sharing. LOL

Melanie Dickerson said...

It's a strange phenomenon. When I'm writing thousands of words per day and really into a book, I'm much more productive with housework. I always forget that, but it's true. I think I just need to write more!

And I have to agree with Margo. Quantity is definitely important when you talk about time with kids. But Ruthy's right too. It's good for them to wait. They don't have to get their every whim satisfied the minute they want it.

Audra Harders said...

LOL, what a great post, Tina! A friend of mine once gave me plaque to hang on my wall that proclaims *Dust is a country accent* and I live by that adage.

I second Ruthy in praising Tina for her excellent clean up before the Seekerville reunion at her house. Show home quality. Could never tell she had cats (I'm semi allergic) and the food!!! Forget the cleaning...this is a woman who can offer glorious sustenance with a push of the microwave button!!

Wise words to live by, Tina dear. Love the graphics : )

Tina M. Russo said...

Hiya Margo. Haven't seen you in the flesh in ages.

Hannah, prayers for your headaches, kiddo.

Thanks Audra. You know know my secret. MICROWAVES!!!

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

What a fun post. Especially about the dust. Think I'll have my hubby read it.

Tina M. Russo said...

he he he, thanks Shannon.

Cathy Richmond said...

Don't dust! All those particles will be stirred into the air and make your allergies worse! Let all dust rest in peace!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Excellent post, Tina and I wholeheartedly agree. Now when hubby asks why I haven't dusted, I'm gonna say, "Cause Tina gave me permission to write instead."

Excellent post.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Tina, love the pics! Great post too.


Michelle Gregory said...

does it count if it's my own screaming? what if it's swearing, as in swearing at my MS and characters, swearing at myself because i can't get it right? should that stop me?

Tina M. Russo said...

Michelle scream your little heart out hon!!!

Hi Anita! Yes, I am the Headmistress of the Grime Academy.

Cathy you are so right.

I have just penciled in my Christmas tree for take down in February. And my next dusting is Easter.

Lorna said...

Tina, I'm just catching up on my blog reading, but I had to write and thank you for that inspiring and funfilled post. As cold as it is here tonight, I really needed some good laughter to help warm me up.

Tina M. Russo said...

Lorna!!! Long time no see.

Stay warm. Cold here in Denver too!!!