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There's an ancient Zen proverb that says it all: before enlightenment, carrying water, chopping wood, after enlightenment, carrying water, chopping wood. Translation: after your big breakthrough, whatever that may be, you're going to be doing the same mundane things you did before your big breakthrough. You always thought it would be different and that every aspect of your life would change, and though it stinks to high heaven, that is not how it is.

You are going to have to tear yourself away from your cover art selection the minute the clock strikes noon and your husband and dog start hovering because they want to be fed. They know better than to actually interrupt you, but when your husband starts pacing back and forth in your sight line, and your dog sits by your chair and stares up at you with that sweet, sad expression on his face, you get the message. It doesn't matter that you're not the least bit hungry, and could go several more hours without food. No. When the guys want to be fed, you have to get up and cook them something. Plus, you have to pretend not to be unhappy about it.

Before you can cook, however, you actually have to have food in the house. Perish the thought that you can give your husband a shopping list and send him for supplies. I tried this once and he came home without half of the items on the list because he didn't know where to find them.

You may have better luck getting your husband to clean up the branches that fell all over your yard during the last windstorm, but don't count on it. Apparently picking up branches is a two-man job because someone has to hold the bag while the other person picks up the branches and breaks them down to size. Never mind that you could do it all yourself if the shoe was on the other foot, but don't even try to explain this to him because all you will get is a vacant stare.

At some point, every surface in your home is going to be covered in dust, and the hair that your dog has been shedding is going to be wafting all over your floors. Although there's nothing complicated about dusting and running the vacuum cleaner, and your husband could easily do it, it will never occur to him that it needs to be done. And if you think you can get away with suggesting that he might want to give the house the once-over, guess again. All you're going to get for your trouble is a plaintive look and a mournful: aren't you going to help?

Now if you get a snow storm and running the snow blower has always been your husband's job, you may luck out -- as long as he remembers where he stored the gas, how to load it into the blower, and where the starter button is. Chances are better than 50-50 that he won't, and once you walk away from that tutorial about boosting your Facebook page, he's going to figure it's fair game to ask you to shovel the steps.

Changing the burnt-out light bulbs, emptying the trash cans, scouring the kitchen sink, getting the mail, and cleaning the grease off the stove and the film off the mirrors are also going to fall to you for one simple reason: these things are going to drive you nuts long before they get to him.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. Before getting a publishing contract, running the sweeper and cooking the meals, after getting a publishing contract, running the sweeper and cooking the meals. Maybe it's different for Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, but if you're not rich enough to hire a maid, this is how it's going to be.


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