09 June 2014

Writer's Guilt

I've been fortunate that since finishing college I've been a stay at home mom.  Within two years of completing college, when my oldest was four, we started home schooling. I might not have been producing an income like Mr. W but at the end of most days the five children had a bit more knowledge in their heads. If anything we usually made a mess doing something fun. Then the youngest two entered the teen years and need less and less oversight from me. So I started filling in bits and pieces of time with writing. But I was still a home educator and still felt I had something to show for the way I spent each day. Now the youngest two are at the high school. Other than the evening check of “what homework do you have?” my work of teaching is over. This gives me oodles of time each morning to write. Of course this is to the exclusion of house hold tasks like dishes and mopping and weeding.

And this is where the guilt comes in.

Mr. W will come home and the dishwasher is still full of clean dishes which means the sink is now full of today’s dirty dishes. Or the laundry is piled on the bed, not folded.  You know how it goes.  Other than X number of words in a computer file, there is nothing to show for how I spent my day.

Maybe I should be like Jo in Little Women, holed up in the attic all day, and when Mr. W comes home he could see my ink stained fingers and a sheaf of hand written papers on the desk.  It’s not that Mr. W has ever begrudged my writing, but it seems to puzzle him and saying “I got 2000 words written this morning” has very little meaning to him as to what was actually accomplished.

The other part of guilt comes from society’s perception of work. Work is often presented as drudgery. As something you do so that you can then go and do what really want to be doing.  The mantra is often “do what you love” and most people may enjoy some aspects of their work very few actually enjoy all of what they do. Except for writers- the vast majority of writers I know, or know of, like actually they love what they do. [okay- except maybe the query letter, but even that can be an intellectually stimulating exercise and when it pays off in an offer off representation or publishing is quite rewarding]

So I sit here and love my work - ignoring the dishes in the sink and weeds taking over the flower beds and craft stories. One keystroke at a time. Someday I’ll have a printed and bound book in my hand and I can show family and friends, “See, here is what I do.”