If there’s one thing I can be counted on to complain about, it’s having time taken away from writing. “How can I concentrate on my book if I have to do all these other things?”runs my very vocal monologue.
I live with a partner who has become disabled. The chores we used to share – shopping, laundry, cleaning – are now on my shoulders alone. Plus escorting him to doctors, dentists, audiologist, ad infinitum. Though I try to fight for uninterrupted writing time, it’s usually a losing battle.
My problem is not unique,of course. How many writers have to spend hours in a job they are bored by or actively dislike?
The reality is that life gets in the way for most of us. But recently I read an oped piece in The New York Times that gave me a new view of this dilemma. It was written by a woman who had been accepted by a law school (a rarity for women in the 1950’s) but who had just had a baby. Torn between her ambition to become a lawyer and the attention she owed her child, she considered abandoning her professional dreams. But her father-in-law told her, “If you really want to study law, you ill find a way to manage both school and child.”
That’s what she did, she writes, by “prioritizing” her time. The exhausting schedule she arranged was to be in classes all day until 4:00 in the afternoon (while a nanny took care of the baby), then take care of her child for several hours, then return to her studies in the evening.
Did her professional dreams succeed despite this two-sided struggle? They did on the highest rung of the legal ladder, for that young student and mother evolved into Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Though Ginsburg admits she was fortunate to have enough money to hire a nanny, and even more fortunate in having a totally supportive husband (he even became the family cook), l she contributed the most important factor: her positive attitude. Instead of giving in to resentment (time away from her studies) or guilt (time away from her child), she deliberately gave full attention to each activity as she was doing it. Attending classes, she “studied diligently,” she says. During the baby’s time, she gave equally diligent attention to “playing games and reciting nursery rhymes.” After bathing and feeding her child, and putting her to bed, an inexhaustible Ginsburg went back to her studies every evening with what she calls “renewed will.”
Surprisingly Justice Ginsburg claims that “my success in law school was in large measure because of baby Jane.” This is because, she says, “Each part of my life provided respite from the other and gave me a sense of proportion,”
It’s easy to resent having our writing interrupted by obligations we’d rather not have. But barring a genie or ivy tower, we have to accept the fact that these other activities are where we are in our lives. Finding ways to pursue writing – or any dream – may require finding a way to fit disruptions into our life. And since the characters we create often have to do the same tasks, what we’re forced to do away from the computer can actually make our writing more real!
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BOOKS: Widow’s Walk- iUniverse.com; Turning Toward Tomorrow – xlibris.com; Role Play and Ten Women of Valor -CreateSpace.com and Amazon Kindle.