I’d put it off as long as I could: today I cleaned my bathroom. I hate this job!
I kept it clean enough that it was survive-able and even presentable enough for guests. But underneath? It needed serious work. As I was polishing the mirror, mopping the floor, and yes, cleaning the tub and toilet, I realized that in many ways this task is much like that of writing; that of life.
Sometimes deep down, long-needed, hard work is required.
I can get seduced by writing that is enough and certainly presentable; even fit for guests readers. And in the meantime I’m “saved” from having to do the polishing, mopping, and cleaning that deep-down writing requires. (Don’t misunderstand. I’m not dismissing my blog or newsletter. Far from it. What I’ve been able to offer, invite, produce, and experience has been gift beyond measure for me. But I do need to move forward; to stop hoping that in and of itself, it will somehow lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars, hundreds of thousands of followers, hundreds of thousands of book sales. )
Likewise, in life.
I have figured out ways to make-do, cover-up, and polish the veneer on particular circumstances, realities, and relationships rather than having to make hard decisions, step forward in intentional, oft’ painful ways, and make necessary sacrifices. (Don’t misunderstand. I’m not in a place of personal crisis, relational angst, or deep depression. Far from it. But I do need to move forward; to stop waiting for something to shift, change, or miraculously occur so that life can be what I’ve idealized or hoped.)
What does deep cleaning look like in my writing? It means I prioritize time every single day to write 1,667 words in non-blog contexts – producing 50,000 words by months’ end. It means I stop complaining talking about target audience, ideal conditions, one more workshop/ebook/or class that will be the silver bullet. It means I blog less. It means I tweet, web-browse, and FB less. It’s not easy. In fact, I don’t really like it all that much; but it’s got to be done!
What does deep cleaning look like in my life? It means I recognize the responsibility I have for my own life. It means I take stock of finances, bills, and income sources (or lack thereof). It means I stop complaining talking about “someday” or “if only” or “what if.” It means I invest in relationships in which I am 100% myself – no editing, no censoring, no silencing. It means I prioritize my time in ways that serve my higher goals, my imminent needs, my truest desires, my honest realities. It’s not easy. In fact, I don’t really like it all that much; but it’s got to be done!
This kind of cleaning affords a sometimes-hidden bonus: time to think.
- I’ve been thinking about what it means to acknowledge the things that are hard and even painful in life; about what it means to not run from them, rather to stay.
- I’ve been thinking about how hard we work to alleviate struggle, sadness, and even stress.
- I’ve been thinking about how that really isn’t all that healthy – or remotely realistic.
- I’ve been thinking about how our endless pursuit of “happiness” only leaves us wanting more; only makes us less-prepared to deal with real-life, every-day stuff that just keeps coming; only makes us dissatisfied, hungry, and unhappy.
- I’ve been thinking about the reality that in the midst of things that are hard and that require labor, effort, and deep cleaning, we become more beautiful, more passionate, stronger, and more ourselves.
- I’ve been thinking that none of these are easy; nor can they be ignored…at least for long.
Hard work requires rolling up our sleeves and getting dirty, naming what’s true, and stepping forward in confidence, raw determination, and faith.
Bathrooms, writing, and life have (at least) one thing in common: sparkling, long-awaited, stunning results.