Thursday, November 8, 2012

Is Writing a Luxury?

Before Hurricane Sandy came in and screwed up my life - sending us out of our house for 8 days and causing me to rant, then cry, then apologize on the phone with my electricity provider - my husband and I went to a wedding.

It was a fabulous wedding, as only second marriage weddings can be. The bride was beautiful and self assured, the groom was handsome and relaxed. There was no drama*, just a damn good party with friends that I hadn't seen in too long.

One of these friends, Nancy, I haven't seen in years. I used to work with Nancy at the New York Times doing events and in addition to being beautiful and cosmopolitan (down to her bones New York chic) she was a cabaret singer and a professional at the top of her game. Then she decided she wanted to be a cantor. She wanted to study for five long years to follow her passion. She gave up the NYT, she gave up singing gigs in piano bars. She worked her ass off.

We exchanged hugs and updated each other on our lives. My update looked like this: Moved to Pennsylvania; wrote a book; wrote another book; (eventually) got an agent; went on submission; earned a master's degree in 50 shades of rejection. I finished by telling her that I sometimes felt guilty, getting to do what I'm passionate about. I said I knew it was a luxury to write, when it is not (currently) helping our household's bottom line (though I am a fierce couponer, dude.)

Nancy is usually a composed soul, but she wasn't having any of this argument. Her voice was emphatic (maybe due to the mojito) when she declared that it was NOT a luxury to follow your passion. Even if others have to make sacrifices for you?, I asked, thinking of my husband, my kids when I'm in the writing cave, when I'm off limits, when I'm despondent that things aren't going well. Yes, she said. Even when others make sacrifices. Don't we sacrifice for our families too? Isn't it a give and take? Don't belittle the value of following your passion. Don't underestimate the good that can come from making yourself happy. It's not selfish to be happy, if your happiness grows into more happiness for your family - spreads out to encompass everyone like a big ole happiness Snugli (I'm paraphrasing, Nancy would never say 'Snugli')

I see what she is saying. I really do. But the voice in the back of my mind reminds me that Nancy doesn't have kids. She doesn't have a husband right now. Of course she has responsibilities and people she loves. But her immediate familial duties - kinda light. Is she right? Or are we just in different places?

It's a moot point. I'm not giving up writing. But I can see a time, in the future, that I might need to make a choice.

So what do you think? Is writing a luxury? A necessity? Both?

*No drama that I saw, anyway.


  1. An absolute necessity...I'd go mad if I couldn't write. And rather than worrying about whether or not your writing causes a burden on the household, celebrate the fact that your family understands how important it is for you to do this. They sound great!

    1. Jen, I love that you are so absolute - I wish I could be. but i will definitely try to concentrate on celebrating my awesome family - and sneaking away to write at every opportunity!

  2. I have my days when I feel like it's a luxury, and others when it's all I want to do and I can't get anything done until after I put words on the screen. Someday I hope for writing to be a necessity more, but with a young family, it comes second to my other priorities. :)

    1. I couldn't agree more. I guess it has a lot to do with where you are in your life. I'm at the place where writing is serious, but it's NOT the most important thing. It's a rotating list where priorities are constantly shifting - like when littlest got croup recently - writing? what writing? And now that all is well and kids are in school, the dishes, the laundry, they don't exist - it's just me and my laptop.

  3. I think we're in the same place, Alex. But I keep writing. Not sure why. I don't have as much family responsibility as you, so I can't say what I'd do. At this point I feel like I have way too much time and energy invested in this to give it up. So I keep writing.

    1. I feel you, Angelina, I really do. And, thank goodness, it's sometimes enough to just let the energy you've already invested carry you through for a while, until you feel good about it again. because you will. That will happen. When I'm feeling like this I just tell myself, I could give up, but why? It's actually more bother to stop. So let entropy (is that the right word) carry the day. Tomorrow will be better.

  4. Firstly, you have every right to rant- I'm so sorry to hear you were affected by the hurricane. I hope you and you're family are safe now!
    Secondly, I have to say I see things so differently now that I have kids- and savor my writing time that much more! But I do believe in dichotomy. Writing is both a privilege and a luxury (and a sanity saving necessity sometimes!) It is whatever you find it to be and that (especially when you have kids) can change from day to day to night.

    Happy Weekend!

    1. Hi Deirdre
      thanks for the kind words re: hurricane sandy. We were much less affected than a lot of people, so I'm grateful.
      And it's true, children change your perspective. I think I was much less productive before having kids in a way because I did have time. Having too much time is a sure fire way to waste it. Now I have one hour, maybe two a day when I can really concentrate. I am glued to my laptop for that time. It's precious!



  6. Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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