Friday, March 24, 2006

Shower Power

Last year, when our water heater crapped out, the hubby and I decided to upgrade to a 50 gallon-capacity model rather than the 40 gallon one we were replacing. Our logic was that at some point in the not-too-distant future we will have two teenagers living in the house, and four people requiring daily showers will push the water heater to its maximum endurance. And since the hubby loves long, hot showers, the idea of running out of hot water is simply not an option.

But, I'm thinking that somewhere in my subconscious I knew there was another good reason for the extra capacity, a need much more immediate.

I do all of my best thinking in the shower. No joke. No matter what I might be stumped on, if I stand under the spray of hot water long enough, the solution will come to me. I've imagined entire scenes, complete with dialogue and imagery, while my skin prunes up to a raisen-y texture. I've come up with more solutions to more problems there, more ideas than are good for me, and enough character backstories to populate a small village.

Oddly enough, I only take one shower a day. You'd think I'd be hopping in the tub right and left, but so far I haven't stooped to that. Maybe it's because I know I'd end up washing oodles of extra laundry to supply enough clean undies for multiple showers per day. Or maybe the fiscal cells of my brain are powerful enough to subdue the extravagant cells by remembering how much heating gas costs these days. I do know that turning off the faucet has become almost as hard as crawling out of bed after the third snooze time has run out. I generally have to tell myself it's not going to get any easier so I might as well get on with it now.

Perhaps the shower is such a great thinking spot for me because it's one place that is absolutely quiet. The kids actually obey the closed-bathroom-door-means-absolute-privacy-unless-you-are-bleedng dictate in our house. We don't have a radio in our bathroom, so I'm not distracted by song lyrics or gossipy morning DJs. I can't do anything else but stand and/or wash, so I'm not tempted to shove random thoughts out of the way until I can devote time to them.

And of course, I can't write anything down, which every writer knows is the key to coming up with the Best. Ideas. Ever. If you can hold on to something long enough to get out of the shower, dry off, get dressed and get it out on paper, it might just be a keeper.

Even the moments before I fall asleep every night - the other time of day I do a lot of my best writing thinking - aren't nearly as fruitful as my shower moments. Perhaps this is because I usually fall asleep too quickly, or at least long before I get anywhere in solving my latest problem. Add the holdover habit from my youth of telling myself bedtime stories to help put me to sleep and my productivity spirals to zero.

I'm thinking that I should find a way to tap into my shower genius. I haven't tried hot baths for inspiration yet, although I imagine they'd work nicely. Except, taking baths requires work and planning, whereas a shower is simply part of my daily routine. I can always count on that time to work through things, and I've come to look forward to it.

And I'm beginning to wonder if maybe we shouldn't have sprung for the 70 gallon water heater.


Anonymous said...

And of course, I can't write anything down, which every writer knows is the key to coming up with the Best. Ideas. Ever.

I always, but always, have those AHA! solutions in the shower.

I've considered taking a Sharpie with me so I can write on the shower wall, but of course, that'd mean I'd have to clean the bathroom more often (and with my luck, the writing wouldn't come off).

You'd think they'd come up with a waterproof recording device -- they have cameras and watches, so why not a waterproof PDA? There is probably a huge potential market there.

Ehle said...

And I thought I was the only one who had this problem. For me, the shower comes in second, nudged out of first by a lengthy car ride.

Here's a thought: Maybe you could use a crayon to write down ideas on the tile. I haven't tried this, myself, but I'm sure it would come off with enough scrubbing. And maybe some industrial-strength degreaser.