I always have had. And I used to say them, until I had children. The children turned me into a different person, temporarily. I have things to say about that, as well: how it is only since returning to paid work, and more importantly since regaining time away from the children, that I have reclaimed the ability to think about things other than domesticity for lengths of time. But, you say. Writing! It’s versatile, can be done anywhere, can be done in short intervals. Anthony Trollope wrote his novels before dawn and had a fulltime job! What is WRONG with me that I can’t write, and look after children fulltime, and keep a house?
Well, it turns out nothing at all. It turns out that the belief that I could is part of the narrative that says this: taking care of children isn’t real work. Sure, it might take up some time, but it’s not brain work, is it? It’s just a matter of being present and keeping an eye on the knives. Except that that’s not true. It takes an enormous amount of brain work to do well. And writing – which, I think it is pertinent to say, is the only artistic domain that has historically admitted women – is not something one can just do in between demands to play trains. At least, I can’t, and I’m not alone. Female writers have always said they need to be ruthless about carving out time for themselves; Marge Piercy, childless by choice, relates that she has lost friendships over this, because her insistence that her writing time was sacrosanct was seen as breaking a social contract. Writing takes time. It takes concentration. And for me, it takes being elsewhere from my children, so that I can turn off the part of my brain forever listening out for the sleep-fuddled wail that heralds the End Of The Nap, the complaint that Everything Is Boring, Mummy, the awareness that in an hour they’ll all want to be fed again.
So, here I am! And I still have things to say, and once again the space to say some of them. Hi! Glad you could join me.