Justifying the Time

Writing looks, in a lot of ways, like a very selfish enterprise. - Gail (chatroom buddy and writing pal)

This little statement really hit home with me when I read it on the screen during a recent chat. When I consider my personal struggle with finding and taking the time to write, I invariably end up feeling guilty. Not because anyone says or does anything to make me feel bad but because I have a hard time justifying the time and effort.

I've often dreamed of retiring from the day job and making writing my fulltime profession. In this little fantasy of mine I see myself dedicated to the computer while the kids are in school and the hubby is at work. I see myself succeeding because I've finally found guilt-free time to focus on the story. Distractions would be minimimal and yet I'd still manage to be wife, mom and housekeeper. I'd churn out the stories and start peddling them to agents and pubishers alike.

Of course, I never quit the day job because that would be irresponsible and, dare I say it, selfish. My income is just as necessary as my husband's. It does more than pay for daycare, it allows us to eat on a regular basis and remained clothed in more than tatters. My checks also help to fund things like vacations, Christmas, birthdays, and anniversaries. Hubby's checks pay the bills--mine make life comfortable. Quitting my job to write would probably kill my marriage and force me to stop spoiling my very spoiled children. So I keep working.

Working full-time means my time is limited. Should I lock myself away to write when the kids need help with homework? The dishes need to be done? Laundry is piled sky-high? Dust bunnies are gathering under the furniture? Do I sacrafice a social life I value? And what about my extended family? Do I blow them off to write?

I know many people are faced with the same dilemma and I know some of them answer those questions quite the opposite I do. I'll admit I have regrets when it comes to my writing. I know I don't give it or myself a chance to shine. But I've yet to regret spending time with my loved ones, of providing for my family, and taking care of them the best I know how.

Perhaps someday when the kids are grown and the mortgage is paid, I'll be able to retire and devote myself to the one true professional goal I've ever held. I know the writing will always be there; it's been a part of me for too long and has survived many years of neglect.

Should I manage to get lucky with the sporadic writing and even more sporadic submissions I mail out, maybe my priorities will change. In the meantime, I'm going to continue to play with my kids, attend social functions, love my husband, and keep our house relatively clean. (I can't vouch for the laundry or the toilets...I hate them both.)