Writer’s Craft #59 – Women with Clean Houses Don’t Write Epic Novels
Justine Graykin is a writer and free-lance philosopher sustained by her deep, abiding faith in Science and Humanity — well, Science, anyway –- and the belief that humor is the best anti-gravity device. Find her work and bloggings at justinegraykin.com
I once heard a famous director advise a group of aspiring filmmakers, “If you’re a man, get married. It will help to stabilize your life, and give you the support system you need to focus on your career. If you’re a woman, don’t get married. Because then you’ll be expected to keep house and provide support for your husband and his career.”
A blanket, sexist generalization, to be sure, but one which has an uncomfortable ring of authenticity to it. Writing is a full-time occupation if you want it to be more than merely an entertaining hobby. As such, it demands a great deal of time and focus. Long hours of research and revision, social networking and promotion, which doesn’t leave a lot for the other demands of life.
In any given household, somebody has to earn the bread and keep house. If there are kids and/or animals involved, labor increases by a factor of two with every added dependent. Laundry, meals, errands, dusting, cleaning the (*gak*) bathroom; it all has to be done. And in a hetero household, guess who usually does the honors? Including, nowadays, at least a few slices of the bread-earning, too. So, when does one write?
If you’re a member of the 1%, no problem. The bread is cake, and as for the rest, that’s what servants are for. (And if you’re the 1%, you don’t need to worry about getting published or promoted, either; chances are you already own everything you need.) But if you’re the rest of us, you have to figure out priorities. What comes first?
Bread. Got to pay the rent/mortgage. So you either have a job, or you’ve married somebody who does. If you’ve eschewed kids and/or pets, you’re ahead of the game. If not, there’s only so much you can shrug off without risking serious jerkdom. Then there’s all the rest, the laundry, meals, etc. Let’s presume the family is willing to take up some of the slack there. Nice idea. But the reality is that kids and working spouses generate more than they can keep up with, which is why wives/mothers were invented.
Thus we come to the solution that I and countless other writers (and assorted victims of art obsession) favor: To Hell With It. Cobwebs festooning the corners? Dust pumas under the bed? Floors that crunch underfoot? So what? The laundry goes from body to hamper to washer to clothes basket to body again without being sidetracked into closet or drawer. No problem. Why scrub down the stove and the counters? They’ll only get dirty again. Okay, we stop short of being shut down by the Board of Public Health. But who gives a rat’s backside if the linens match? And making the bed? Please. Life is too short.
And I have novels to write.