A Writing Chore

There have been interruptions along the way, of course – some of them lasting a few ahem cough decades – but I’ve been writing ever since I was a child.  And like many children who display a love of fiction writing, a lot of what was driving me was the need to dissociate.  To retreat to a fantasy world of my own creation – a world I had some means to control – in the face of the difficulties presented by the world around me.  The difficulties are familiar to most of us, I’m sure.  Family issues – I won’t go into the details, but I’ve got plenty of them, same as everybody.  And I grew up in the 70s and 80s, which was kind of a golden age of bullying, so that was something nicely horrific to try to escape from as well.  But it wasn’t all angst and terror; a lot of what I was escaping from, dreaming up fantasy stories and binge reading all I could find and writing my first tentative attempts at stories, were the mundane chores of life.

You know, like cleaning your room.  Nobody ever liked doing that.

I’m dwelling upon this now because, following the encore performance on Friday night of my short play Basic Cable Method Acting, I’ve spent the entirety of the Memorial Day weekend cleaning my apartment.  Instead of researching or drafting anything new, I’ve been sorting through papers and vacuuming and doing laundry and dishes and scrubbing floors and maniacally combing through each individual piece of dust.  Now, ordinarily when I muse over mundane activities like this, I’m lamenting the inevitable writers’ urge to procrastinate.  But this has not been a weekend of me avoiding writing, which a cleaning binge would normally signify.  No, I’ve been scrubbing every square inch of my apartment specifically as part of the furthering of my writing career.

You see, I’ll be returning to Valdez, Alaska, in a few weeks’ time, to take part in the Valdez Theatre Conference as a playwright.  (I have a new play called Before Vinson.  I think it’s good.) I’m making arrangements for an apartment sitter to look after my cat (so no robbing the place while I’m gone, ya knuckleheads), and meeting with her later today to finalize everything.  So, in order not to scare her off – and screw up the opportunity which I’ve been preparing for for months – I need the place to be presentable.

And once the place is clean and the arrangements have been made, there are some last minute adjustments to the script of Before Vinson which need to be made before I arrive at Valdez.  And all of the projects I’m looking at tackling after the conference are essentially revisions of existing drafts.  So once again, I’m looking at a long period of clean up.  So indeed, the unpleasant chore of tidying things up turns out to be a crucial part of the creative life and the career I’ve chosen for myself.

Could somebody please go back and time and give the childhood version of myself a warning about this?

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