Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2014 > Daily Dispatch #112

April 22, 2014: Spring Cleaning and the Corresponding Matter of Literary Hardship

It’s that time of year when most people clean their immediate environs. This has to be a biological imperative. It’s like birds cleaning their fouled nests. I, who am human, am like most others, biologically motivated. I do the spring cleaning thing, each and every year. Actually, in 2011 and 2013 I sprung clung because I had a major incentive. Those years we did two horse treks. We had arranged for house sitters to stay at our place, and I rightly thought that upon our return home, that it would feel good to start anew.

2012 and 2014 – we’re cleaning for the sake of cleaning. Ho hum. Then and now, I’m doing this out of habit. Actually, this

First summer project: replacing the steps on the Black Hole

year I’m motivated by the fact that we’ll have friends visiting for a week in May. We have several large projects that need doing around here; in fact, we have so many things that I’m putting them on a short mental list. Yesterday I vowed to not get distracted by other projects, otherwise I will run around like a chicken with her head cut off, and do a half-assed job on each one.

Vow to do something, and inevitably you won’t. Culhane’s law. I most wanted to clean up the Black Hole, our gear storage shed – but Pete had other ideas. So we instead raked the lower yard. His reasoning (and he was right) was that the area would dry faster, and also that the existent draining water would then head in the right direction, that is in the direction of the lower portion of the pen. My subsequent reasoning was that removing stagnant water sources would reduce the upcoming gnat and mosquito population.

So we hopped to doing what turned out to be a physically draining, and time intensive endeavor. There was considerable sodden hay to clean up – the bulk of it was by the hitching post and in front of the hay shelter. We loaded it into the sled and the fish hauler, and pulled and wheeled it up to the area behind the hoop house. The latter, which was the most physically arduous task, fell upon Pete’s shoulders. This was because I was still sore from having come off Tinni two days previously.

I got to thinking – it’s not so bad, doing such things in warmer, sunnier weather. It feels good to be soaking up warmth. And in this instance watching the horses interact was a welcome distraction.

The subtext of this dispatch is that I don’t like doing spring cleaning. The way I look at it, life is very short, and so for this reason one should instead by doing more fun and exciting things. I am also now of an age in which I have less time left than previously. If I could, I’d hire someone to do some of this stuff. Problem is, I’ve spent a considerable portion of my life doing fun and exciting things, and as I now know, doing fun and exciting things does not pay. My more writerly take is this – I primarily write creative nonfiction, my area of expertise being memoir. It’s for this reason that I’m constantly doing things that I think will later make for good stories. And spring cleaning doesn’t fit into this category.

Pete contends that the best creative nonfiction has a certain element of hardship to it. And yes, hardship sells. This is even so with what he calls non-creative nonfiction. He’s now working on a book about chainsaw accidents that’s a part of his commonsense series. This will put his claim about hardship selling to the test. I predict that Pete’s theory will prove to be true, and that his book will be a best seller. If so, we will then be able to hire someone to assist us in doing spring cleaning.

There’s a certain part of me that doesn’t want to believe that hardship is what sells. This is because going from one cataclysmic event to the next and then having to write about it is more than this human spirit can endure. Perhaps I should instead write poetry or fiction. Just can’t bring myself to do it. This is because while it has a basis in reality, it still isn’t real.

So, some will argue that a really good writer can write something interesting about just about anything, including the mundane. Not me. The life lived has to be exciting. I can’t do mundane things and also write about them. This makes me antsy.

As I write this, I’m gearing up to clean up the Black Hole, a project that I’ve skirted around doing for the past ten years, in part because it’s a dog awful mess, and in part because I haven’t had the time to deal with the dog awful mess. There might be a story in the telling, cleaning up an area like this does involve some hardship, as I will explain further.

113. 4/24/14: Horse Care: Hardship and Hrimmi