Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Cyril, meet Josh

What with being rushed off my feet (and sometimes rushed off my backside, what with all the sitting around lactating I find myself doing - which would be the perfect opportunity to write a novel one-handed were it not for small but perfectly formed three-year-old hanging off my neck) and not having enough time to research Our Cyril, I'm very grateful to a clued-up writer-friend who informs me that Connolly's book, Enemies of Promise, from which the 'pram in the hallway' quote comes, is: 'a piss-poor exercise in excuse-making'. 

(Anyone who writes a sentence that long cannot possibly put a claim in for time poverty.)

Did Cyril think that having children simply left no time for writing? It can't be an accident that several female writers I know (using the term 'know' about as loosely as my old maternity knickers) didn't really get started until they'd had their first child. The same is true for me. I spent my twenties intending to be a writer - a process that involved drinking a lot, smoking a lot, and talking a lot (of hooey). But it wasn't until I found myself with a baby instead of time on my hands that I wrote anything whole and (hopefully) credible. 

What we do is cling tightly to the tiny spaces between changing nappies, rocking to sleep and pureeing papaya. We're already sacrificing sleep and socialising, so what's a bit less sleep, what's a bit less socialising when the prize is Doing What You Always Wanted To Do But Never Quite . . . Found The Time?

During the writing of this post, I've been interrupted three times by The Boy, who may or may not be teething / have eaten too much yoghurt / be suffering from night terrors about me singing Incey Wincey a little too vociferously this afternoon. Would the post be better without the interruptions? Possibly. But without The Interrupter, it wouldn't exist in the first place.

US humourist Josh Billings said: 'Time is like money; the less we have of it to spare the further we make it go.' 

I'm with Josh.

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The Mock Duckling said...

You're right Myrt, my sister has a toddler and is a writer and is incredibly disciplined and squeezes the utmost out of her time. But she does have a very supportive and brilliant husband too. Maybe that's the bit Cyril is missing out. People have to help support each other to reach their goals and sometimes partners can even actively undermine that for each other. But if you support one another (oh god, sounds like I've swallowed a hippy pill again) there's loads you can achieve. I suspect the mothers not achieving thing is less about the kids and more about how in the past the women had to look after the men too and had no mean machinery to help with the drudge angle.

Not saying kids aren't hard work of course...

Mum'sTheWord said...

Very good point about partners - mine often takes the children off to the library at the weekend so I can have a couple of hours, and he is 100% supportive despite the occasional black mood he has to put up with and the number of times I 'shush' him in the evenings when I've just got the children off to sleep and am in the middle of a Very Important Sentence.

But then I wouldn't want to rush in and be overly grateful about that time he gives me because he spends most days being able to focus on his career, so I do believe I've earned those few hours . . .nope, I 'sometimes' believe I've earned those few hours, and that's the rub, isn't it? Because although you say it was 'in the past' that women had to look after their men as well as run the house and take care of the children, that doesn't sound so 'past' to me. It's quite easy to slip into very traditional roles, and it's the internal battles that hold us back the most.

The Mock Duckling said...

"it's the internal battles that hold us back the most"

That's interesting. I don't have kids, but I am sure that sentence applies to me too. Even things like if my bf's family comes to stay it is somehow me who is expected to make sure there are clean sheets and food for them and all that and spend the most time, which doesn't make that much sense when you think about it. The thing is he would forget all about it and not be remotely embarrassed to give them dirty sheets and no food! But then he is very very focussed on what he wants to do which I admire, and I am much more focussed now too. But I think these social obligations, making sure people are ok, feel ok etc, still fall very much on women and sometimes it can be quite subtle and you don't realise. He's great though and that same absent-mindedness is what allows him to get his stuff done. And he's very supportive of my goals too which has really helped. Just not great at housework (either of us)!

Mum'sTheWord said...

It does seem to be true about these social obligations. When my partner and I went on our first big trip I found myself in a cafe writing postcards to various members of his family (as well as my own). 'Why aren't you doing this?' I said to him. 'I've never sent any of them a postcard in my life,' he replied. And yet I felt I should.

I think there are so many of these subtle acts going on that we somehow slip into. Some of them are harmless, some could do with a good shake!

Lisa said...

I love you, Myrtle. I am drunk. But you are the best.


Mum'sTheWord said...

Cheeky scamp. x