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.”