Tuesday, April 6, 2010


What is it about the first warm days and the appearance of daffodils in the yard that makes my mind turn to housecleaning, of all things?! A young man's fancy may turn to love at this time of year, but for me, it's the urge to have my house clean, inside and out. It must be something in the Pennsylvania Dutch genes--that's all I can think. When I was a child, my mother treated spring cleaning as seriously as a spiritual ritual. Everyone had to help, and everyone got to share in the satisfaction. And in those days, with a coal furnace, the house got really dirty over the course of a long, cold winter!

Just now, with a book due May 1st and another due August 1st, I have plenty of excuses not to dive into spring cleaning. After all, houses don't get nearly as dirty now as they used to. But the urge wouldn't go away. As a sort of compromise, I started with my office. After all, a clean office will make my work go better, won't it?

I began with sorting out my storage closet. Oh, dear, oh, dear. There were things in there which hadn't seen the light of day in years. I became slightly side-tracked, reading through old magazine stories and wondering whether this or that old manuscript might be re-cycled into a new story. I discovered connection cords for printers long gone and several hundred feet of telephone cable. Wonder what I was saving that for?

Finally, buried in with office supply receipts from 1990 (Tip: you don't have to save records for the IRS for more than seven years, it seems.) I discovered a list I'd made sometime in my first few years of writing. Turns out that my first year of actually selling what I wrote was 19**, and in that year I wrote twelve short stories and sold six for the magnificent total of $185! Somehow, that hand-written sheet brought back all those feelings I had when I sold my very first story. Someone liked my writing enough to pay me for it! Real people would read and perhaps enjoy the story I had created! I was a writer!

Over the years, that excitement sometimes gets buried under deadlines and publicity opportunities and galleys to read and talks to give. But you know what? It's still there. It's just as exciting to sell a book now as it was when I sold that first little story to a children's Sunday School paper. I just need to be reminded of that once in awhile.

So now not only do I have a clean office, I have a renewed sense of purpose about my writing. That was certainly worth a few hours of hard labor, wasn't it? I'm diving into the last few chapters of the current work with energy to spare.

I wonder what I'll find when I start on the kitchen?

Have a great spring, everyone.



Leann Harris said...

I know what you're talking about. I want to paint and garden and get rid of clutter.

Marta Perry said...

Thanks, folks. I'm glad I'm not the only one knocking things off my cleaning list!


Missy Tippens said...

Marty, I hope you saved those papers with your first short story sales! That's so cool that you found that. :)