OK, now I don’t want to compete with Reservoir Dad’s Most Mentally Sexy Dad comp (woops, I almost wrote “Most Sexually Mental then” — an entirely different contest, I should think…) but I have a little, non-competitive request for my wonderfully inspired and resourceful readers.
When I set out to write The Divided Heart, I was trying to be the next best thing to a fly on the wall. I wanted to know how other people “do it”, meaning maintain a creative life and raise a family (I really do mean to stay out of the bedroom with this post!).
People always ask me what I learned from meeting and talking to the artists in the book. And my usual answer is that, above all (and many of you will have heard me say this before):
YOU need to give yourself permission to be an artist (or creative worker of any kind). No one else is going to give you that permission — especially if you haven’t already staked a claim for it in your own heart and mind.
For mothers, this means being very strict with ourselves, which can be half the battle. It means carving out time, against all odds, to devote to our creative practice — because it’s the thing that connects us to ourselves.
For me, I only feel half alive if I’m not writing. When I’m not writing, I become horribly distracted, preoccupied and downright cranky — not very fun for anyone who has to live with me.
Unfortunately, that means I am all too regularly in this pent-up state, gazing longingly at my writing desk from what feels like a gaping, frustrating expanse. Most of the time I can't even see my laptop, it's so covered in a growing piles of bills, notes and press releases all vying for my attention...
It seems I am still failing that most basic domestic obstacle course. How to dodge the washing basket, unmade beds, grocery shopping, unread school notes, paid work, volunteering, exercise, waxing of a leg (or two)… and make a beeline for that desk, sit down and start wrestling with the blank page.
In the interests of sharing, I’d really love to hear from you about how/when/where you work. What has to be in order for you to get down to it? Or is it to hell with order — you just ignore the housework and get on with the creative stuff?
Do you involve the kids? Do you wake up at 4am (hopefully without the kids!)? Do you do most of your work in your head?
I really want to know what strategies other parents have for making time for their own creative work. Give me your best tips for keeping this little thing called art alive. In other words, HELP!!