18 January 2013

Must we kill the Angel in the House?



I recently read The Virginia Woolf Writers’ Workshop, Seven Lessons to Inspire Great Writing by Danell Jones. In one of the chapters Ms. Jones, drawing from Virginia Woolf’s extensive journals and writings, points out how Woolf thought that writers, especially women writers, needed to “be prepared to kill a cruel, destructive creature named the Angel in the House. That selfless, giving caretaker…, who always puts everyone else’s needs ahead of her own; who thinks her own work is not important.”  That statement jarred me. To me, in 2012, it seems a bit of an extreme act, but when Woolf was writing (she lived from 1882-1941) for a woman to even have thoughts of doing (let alone actually acting upon those thoughts) something other than caring for the home was radical. Woolf had to teach herself and those around her that it is okay for a woman to focus on her needs and her goals. I am fortunate, and I hope most women in the western world are too, to be in a relationship of equals, a partnership where my dreams and desires are supported and fostered just as I support and encourage Mr. W’s goals and ambitions. 

I think the key to any work, any life, in the 21st century is balance.  Create, lead, invent, manage, or work in something that speaks to your heart, something in which you have passion about while tending to those in your sphere of care and concern. Many creatives must fit the work of their heart and hands into the routine of life that demands money for shelter and substance. The creative person must jealously guard the moments they schedule for creative pursuits- tapping at the key board early in the morning before the house arises, sketching ideas for a new design during the lunch hour, or Friday nights spent at the easel.

My advice, don’t kill the Angel of the House, instead:
·         outline the needed and desired tasks and goals
·         prioritized the list
·       delegate among the household or workplace
·        let go of the unnecessary
·       develop a schedule that (baring an emergency) you stick to each day

It is okay to be selfish with your scheduled creative time. It is also okay to, at times, put others need ahead of your own.

In what ways have you made time for the pursuits of your heart? 
Are the important people in your life supportive? 
Have they always been that way and if not how have you educated them on the importance of your creative work?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this subject.