50 Shades of Gray Shag Carpeting

Confession time: I am way too interested in other people’s homes. Their décor, their stuff, and most interestingly of all, their clutter. Is there anything more telling than clutter? A person’s past, hopes, dreams, failed endeavors, reading habits, financial situation, guilty pleasures—all that character fodder just scattered around for me to lookie-loo through.

The internet has made it deliciously easy to snoop into others’ home. First there was amateur porn. Forget improbably positions and screaming orgasms. I got my kicks from the framed Footprints Poem on the wood paneling behind the deed-doers.

Then along came social media, and folks giving me glimpses into their domiciles while fully clothed. The best are the foodie pics. Lovely avocado toast in a grease-shellacked kitchen.

But my favorite, by far, is the site Unfuck Your Habitat. A great site for its intended purpose: unmessing the mess you live in. An even better site for Looking At Other People’s Houses. Lots of Before and After Pics. The joyous riot that is their clutter and the joyous riot that what they think is lovely. Both are telling, both are fun to scrutinize for tiny character-creating details.

Deep into the site, rests an article called “How Do I Keep the Place Clean When No One Will Help Me?”. It is wisdom all writers, artists, creative types need. The wisdom isn’t obvious at first. The article is a well-written version of My Partner and Kids Are Slobs and I Can’t Keep Up that I assume is an evergreen topic for housekeeping, child-rearing and family life sites.

Though this one dispels the idea that anyone will help you, and you must be the change in your house that you want to see. Wisdom in itself, for the topic at hand.

Helpful too, I think , for artists. We’ve all had collaboration ideas that were rejected by the possible collaborators. We’ve all scheduled group work that turned out to be Me All By Lonesome work. We’ve all sent out a dozen e-mails asking for beta reads and received only spam from Canadian pharmacies in return.

We’ve all had writers’ groups that fell apart. Creative partners who lost interest. Artist friends who moved up the ladder faster, and would rather hang with their newly attained rung mates. Artist friends who fake on everything, claiming “life got in the way”.

In short, a lot of creative work is done very much alone while inwardly dealing with the same “How Do I Keep the Place Clean When No One Will Help Me?” angsty mindset. And Unfuck Your Habitat’s advice holds true in artsy situations too: your art is your priority; no one else is obligated to it, you’re excited and energized by the idea; not them; keep working, and a half dozen other really good points.

Go read the article from a creative worker’s POV. It helps. It soothes. It puts perspective on the disappointment of rejection—not the sort from publishers or gallery owners—the rejection felt when best laid plans go splat, and not do (for once) for a lack of effort on your part.

It’s a stark, raw reminder that creating work can be lonely work. Worst, it will be ignored work most of the time. Promises will go unkept, schedules ignored, deadlines missed. You might be the only one who shows up for a recording a podcast, the only one who writes a story for an anthology idea, the only one who finishes paintings in time for a group showing.

Keep showing up. Keep writing. Keep painting. As said in the article. This is about you, not them.

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