Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I heard a writing speaker once say of a critique partner that she was a lovely writer but she didn't think she'd ever get published. Her partner had a creative job and as long as so much of her creativity was spent on the job she loved, there wasn't enough left over to pursue writing seriously.

I've been thinking a lot about this since I entered the New Voices competition. Until this summer, I had a job that, I think, used up not just much of my time, but all of the cleverness I need to be able to write. A job or project that drains me mentally might leave time for writing, but it makes it difficult to write anything I want to keep. And when I wouyld sit down to write, there would be other problems tickling the back of my mind, intruding on my thoughts until I moved on to take care of them.

Something the competition did for me was give me the permission to take myself seriously as a writer. While I was writing the entry and, later, commenting on other writers' work, I did something I'd never done before: I put my writing first. I defrosted something for dinner. I put off laundry and avoided housework. I told my daughters to save their stories until I had finished what I was doing. And they did. It seems such a small thing but it was a revelation. I certainly don't consider myself a model housewife, but much of what I do everyday is not as obligatory as I like to think. This week, I made my daughter's study group Halloween cupcakes.

From a boxed mix.

 Everyone ate them anyway.


  1. It's a tough one justifying the time you set aside for yourself as a writer. It is something I struggle with a lot - there is always something "more important" to be done. I try to convince myself that I'll write better and more comfortably if all the chores are done. Not so. You are right - we just have to take ourselves more seriously as writers.

    Glad you've found the balance. :o)

  2. "Found the balance" might be putting it strongly, but I'm certainly going to be evaluating my decisions a bit more harshly.

    But it does look like I'm making Halloween costumes. It's probably necessary; my teens are so tall that finding even shorts that cover things is a challenge.

  3. Julia, it's about finding balance...and finding it again every day. ;) Some days we don't succeed, and that's okay too. We can't do it all. We can't be perfect...and that's okay.

    And boxed cupcakes are fine. :) You can send me some any time!

  4. I'm a big fan of the boxed cupcakes too. They are a friend to working mothers and poor bakers everywhere ;)

    It's great that you're taking time for yourself. I think it's a shame that we all seem to feel guilty for taking that time. Doing something just for yourself makes you happy and recharges your batteries, and that makes for a happier wife and mother. Everybody wins :)

  5. I think the guilt is the worst thing about being a mother today: no matter what you do there is someone there to tell you what you've neglected to do.