Dorian Gray and The Cost of Writing


I watched the film Dorian Gray last night, having been curious about the character for a while. I’d watched The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen when it first came out and was intrigued by the idea of an immortal man bound to an old and rotten depiction of himself. I’d heard of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and knew the basic premise was about a guy who whimsically sells his soul to the devil after a picture of himself was painted. In this deal, he could live life as he wished, giving in to the pleasures of the flesh, while the picture showed each effect on his soul and he remained vibrant and young.

As I watched the film, I couldn’t help but dwell on the price his deal cost. At first he could care less about his acts (sex, drugs and rock and roll, right?), but as the picture began to decay and transform into a demon, trapped in the picture, a demon he would become when it was time to pony up his soul, I could see the weight bearing on him.

He began to question whether the cost was worth the gain. And, in his case, finally realized it didn’t.

But in everything we do whole-heartedly there is a cost, right? Olympians have to live and breathe their sport, often times giving up their loved ones to live in different states or countries. (Husband and I know this first hand and made the right choice for us–cue children running and screaming and giggling!) Lawyers and doctors sometimes give up dreams of an early marriage or family in order to focus on their careers first. (I’m speaking for a few friends, not everyone of course.)

I see the same thing in my writing. I get asked a lot how I find time to write. I’ll tell you. My house isn’t perfect. My laundry baskets are never empty. My dishes are usually piled into the evening. And if you wanted something specific from my pantry, you’d probably be disappointed. I have only the staples. But my kids and husband are happy. Taken care of. They’re put first, with writing coming in second and housework a very distant third.

That’s the cost for me. If I want to write a book in three months, spending hours in front of my word doc, editing my heart out as I go, then I have to choose something to let slack. It won’t be my family. Can’t be. There goes the impeccable housecleaning.

Nora Roberts once said “Life is a juggling act. You’re going to drop some balls. The struggle is knowing which ones are rubber and which are glass.”

So true.

Which aspect of your life falters a little when you write?

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