Paul Barnett on writing

Sunday, 24 October, 2004

“I sometimes think that writing is a kind of a sickness. ” (Source via Elsie)

I find this bit particularly interesting—

Because it is so focused it tends to exclude other things, in particular it may shrink you as a relating being. I suspect there is a particular form of suffering for spouses of writers. The book of the moment becomes your world, as it must. You suffer from the glazed eye syndrome; the mind is elsewhere. Anita encourages me as a writer, but it is not easy for her. “It's like living with someone who has been doing a PhD for twenty years”, she said.

—because I wonder how it differs between genders. Perhaps I am still smarting from reading “Why are there no great women artists?” or whatever that article was called in first year Uni—which talked about the societal roles which women had to play which prevented them from executing great art (Austen writing on the dining table amidst constant interruptions, etc.) and perhaps I am just being selfish ... but I cannot help but doubt that when Paul Barnett speaks of the “particular form of suffering for spouses of writers”, he has mostly wives in mind.

I know my experience is limited but it seems to me that husbands are more likely to become engrossed in something and thus neglect their other household duties. Wives are more likely to pick up the threads of what he has cast down in order to make sure the ship stays running. She is more likely to sacrifice her dream for his sake; he is more likely to achieve what he wants because he isn't as encumbered as she is (bills/housework/children)—or if he is, he isn't in the same way.

Prove me wrong on this, otherwise I'm sacrificing another dream.

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No, you are dead right. But I think it’s mostly kids that cause the sacrifice of career aspirations for women. Bills dont take *that* long to pay. And if you are both working you can hire someone to do the housework.

If you choose not to have kids, you will be able to do whatever you want. Kids vs career is still one of the choices women have to make…

Yeah, bills don’t take that long to pay ... perhaps I should have rephrased it as “household finances” or something; that would have encapsulated more of what I meant.

I think it’s dreadfully true.  Maybe it’s one of the reasons I’m not married but I’d hate to have my dream crushed at the benefit of my husband’s.
I think I’m a bit of a feminist Christian about that and it’s probably better not to project my views onto some man.

Posted by George on 25 October, 2004 3:48 PM

Please follow your dreams…

Not many people manage to do so.

Posted by philip andrew on 27 October, 2004 3:31 AM


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