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.