Friday, September 21, 2007

Writers need to be selfish

Phew, it’s been a crazy day so the blog is late. But the subject matter is timely.

I’m a mom of two kids under two, so time, any time, to shower, dress, eat, is hard to come by. Finding writing time requires strategy, perserverance and occasionally outright bitchiness.

And I have to admit, with laundry piling in the corner, a bathroom that might soon be condemned, and toys scattered everywhere I sometimes have to shut my eyes as I fumble my way to the computer for what some days is no more than half an hour.

This blog isn’t a poor me, blog, promise, but I decided shortly after my first child came into the world that writing was necessary for my sanity and I would do whatever necessary to ensure I had the time.

So my husband does the cooking, our garden is a wasteland of brown grass and bare patches, and my house is a disaster and I’m okay with all of it.

Too often I speak with women(mothers are the worst for this) who give up all their free time, all of it. I know women who write in the wee hours of the morning, because that’s the only time they can find. They’re busy taking care of children, husbands, their parents.

I have a friend who does all the cooking and cleaning and childrearing because her husband gets grumpy when he has to help out. Needless to say, she has zero energy to write in the evenings.

Screw that! It’s time to be selfish. It doesn’t mean ignore your kids, but perhaps the laundry. It may mean hubby has to watch his favourite TV show by himself, or the kids have to do their own homework.

Start with carving out an hour a day. Protect it with the ferocity of a lioness guarding her cubs. That hour might extend into two, it may not, but at least we’ll have an hour.

Forget the 24 hour sacrifice for our families crap. Make it 23 hours, or less, if possible.

Hopefully it’ll be habit forming and if we’re really lucky, someone else will clean the bathroom.


Molly O'Keefe said...

That's so true Sinead! I actually think one of the differences between people who actually write books and those good- hearted, well-meaning folks who want to is a basically selfish nature. Lord knows I've got one.

Margaret Moore said...

I don't think it's "selfish" to have a creative outlet, whether you're a mother or not, and whether it's needlepoint, or sewing or painting or writing or reading. Frankly, I think it's especially necessary if you're a stay-at-home mom, or you can have one bitter, resentful, stressed-out momma.

And here's the thing: who decides what's "selfish" and what's clever and creative and a good use of time?

If you were taking the time to bake your own bread because you enjoyed it, would anybody consider it selfish? If you were using that hour to sew outfits for your kids that cost twice as much as you could spend at Wal-mart, would anybody consider it a waste of time and money? Ditto curtains, or cushions. If you spent three times as long to paint a room because you wanted to do something extra-ordinary a la Debbie Travis, would folks think you were self-centered?

As for the good folks who talk about wanting to write a book without ever actually doing it... I don't think it's that they're less selfish. I think it's because they don't really want to write. They want to have written. They want the reward without the effort or the risks. Can't say I blame 'em, but it's like hearing somebody say, "I would win an Oscar if I could just find some time for that acting stuff." :-)

Maureen McGowan said...

I agree with Margaret that we can't think of this as selfishness... but we all do from time to time. Even in my cushy life I feel quilty all the time for not spending more time helping my parents with stuff and doing other things. But I know that my writing has to come first.

Anonymous said...

I'm currently working at a contract business gig. Sure it pays but I enjoy it.

Am I being selfish?

The only difference between the two is when you collect the money. The contract gig pays now, the writing gig pays later.

francesca kelly said...

I think it's finally time for me to rejoin the ranks of the writing writer. I need to put my guilty conscious aside, and write. I don't think I'm a bad wife for wanting to take some time for myself to write. Sure, if I get stubborn enough, he'll help clean the house (grumpy as he gets about it). If only there were still time for us to spend alone, as a couple. I really hate to give that up, though it really isn't quality time when we're staring at the tube. Maybe he'll get a clue, or maybe I'll have to ship the kids off to grandma & grandpa's house more often so we can steal some time away...

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