Right now my house is a mess. There are at least three loads of laundry, already sorted by colour and care requirements, waiting on the floor of my bedroom. The sink is full of dishes, the front room carpet looks like a tornado hit it and my two beautiful children are protesting, loudly, the absence of their usual (labour-intensive) Saturday morning breakfast.
I’m not incapacitated by illness or unimaginable emergency.
What crippled my housekeeping ability was …… a chapter. The one I just had to get down in the time I’d usually have been loading that laundry, washing those dishes and hoovering my carpet. The one I was still slaving over this morning when I’d usually have been making pancakes from scratch and serving yoghurt with strawberries and pouring generous glasses of juice.
Somehow, as writers, and especially as female writers, we tend to think of our writing as a type of indulgence – the adult equivalent of sandbox play – and it’s therefore never top-priority when there’s (insert: more serious, more important, more …. needed) work to be done. For those of us (like me) who manage a day job in addition to primary responsibility for the care and control of the kids, writing becomes a few scratched lines on a doodle-pad at work or a hurriedly-scribbled note on the Blackberry while commuting on the bus or train.
This year I decided to re-prioritise my word-work. I enrolled on an MA Writing programme I’d spent far too many job-hours longing to pursue, and I decided to release the need to be June Cleaver at home. Nowadays, sometimes, I manage to push the messy floor to the back of my mind and focus on the writing, because, whether the world likes it or not, the writing’s just as or more important, to me.
It’s early Saturday morning, I’m surrounded by household chaos, and I’m fine with it…. for now, ’cause Cason’s in the middle of telling us why his marriage to Coco is falling apart and why he gave up his dream of becoming a boxer, and how he’s grown accustomed to stasis. And right now? That’s the priority.
(By the way, the kids helped themselves to Cornflakes)
Now …. time to get back to that chapter.