Cleaning for Company

A few days ago my wife and I had a couple of friends from our church over for dinner. It just so happened that the day they were coming over was also the day I was off work, so I was stuck cleaning the house.

I vacuumed and straightened and did all the dishes that had been piling up in the sink.  I worked for a solid hour and a half so that our house would look better than it usually does for our guests.  In fact it looked so good I’m thinking we should have guests over more often, so the house might actually stay somewhere close to clean (Let’s not talk about all those rooms the guests will never see that got piled up with junk.

While I was cleaning it made me think about how we present ourselves to others.  I didn’t just clean.  I gave a lot of thought to what exactly I was comfortable with my guests seeing.

Should I leave the skull salt and pepper shaker holder on the table?  Should I hide the Stephen King short story anthologies? Would they be more impressed with my intellect if I left Jaques Derida’s Writing and Difference closer to the top of the bookshelf?

And while I was thinking on such things I was reminded of a recent post by Chuck Wendig in which he talked about the writer’s platform. Specifically he said,

[N]ow is a good time to slap a new coat of paint on who you want the world to see. Want to know a secret? This should be the best and most interesting face of who you already are. No ruse, no illusion.

In other words, don’t go out and buy a new house just because company is coming. Clean up the house you already have. Think about the things you want them to see, and the things you’d rather throw into that unused bedroom down the hall.  Maybe you’ll decide to leave some of the weirder stuff in plain view and let the chips fall where they may.  Maybe you’ll keep anything that might put people off well out of sight. The choice is up to you.

But remember, if you’re a writer you’re going to want your company to come back as often as possible.

Addendum: My friends totally dug the skull salt and pepper shaker holder. Goes to show you, it pays not to put too fine a polish on your “image.”

3 responses to “Cleaning for Company

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Cleaning for Company « Unsanity Files --

  2. In one of his short stories, David Sedaris talks about inviting (relative) strangers into his home and seeing the place as they saw it, picking up small details (things like your salt and pepper shaker holder) and thinking of how they’d perceive it.

    I do much the same thing, both in my own home and with my online presence. When I get a view on a particular page or post on my website, I’ll go back and read it with almost fresh eyes and think, “How would people view this?” I guess that’s sort of how I make sure my brand is consistent? Maybe I’m just crazy.\

    Great post.

    • Yup, you probably are. 🙂
      But in all seriousness, being genuine without being annoying or overbearing is a fine line to walk. Too far on one side and you look fake. Too far on the other and people know enough about you to hate you. And some of that is going to be different for each individual so you can’t afford to be too sensitive.
      Bottom line: be yourself, but a little better.

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