I came across a worthwhile blog post from Amanda Craig, British writer and journalist, about writing and motherhood. Interesting (or depressing?) to note that she doesn’t think it really gets any easier as the kids get older. An excerpt:
To write properly demands unbroken concentration, and solitude. You can just about manage a couple of hours early in the morning when they are sleeping in, but it’s in many ways worse that when they were very little and needed constant 24 hour attention. Teenagers get into scrapes, and need rescuing from the place where they’ve lost their Oyster card/mobile etc. They probably are less resilient than my generation, but when I think what that cost me in terms of fearfulness (catching an international aeroplane every three months aged twelve, alone, and having your passport stolen or getting on a flight diverted to another country are two of my least pleasant memories) then it’s something I’d rather not put them through. I don’t believe in that nonsense about what doesn’t destroy you makes you stronger.
So, no woman novelist of my acquaintance works at fiction during the holidays. It’s the same reason that you never find women with children going on those tempting-sounding writer’s retreats in places like Hawthornden Castle or Lake Como. Though, let me tell you, we need them rather more than the chaps and childless women who do go there, get served hot and cold repasts and bond.
It may be hard going, but Craig has done it, nonetheless. She has published six books and a number of short stories, at least some number of which she completed after having kids. Read the full post here.
I can’t resist including this passage from the author’s bio page:
…I continued to rewrite my first novel, which was a comedy about a spoilt, snobbish young woman discovering Italy and love. Along the way, I won a couple of prizes for my journalism (Young Journalist of the Year and the Catherine Pakenham award) each of which had the effect not of advancing my career but getting me fired from staff jobs I desperately needed. I led a very hand-to-mouth existence, cycling everywhere, reading newspapers in libraries and shopping in street markets. The Pakenham prize brought me to the attention of a well-known literary agent who asked to see my novel. I sent it to her, and she promptly lost it. Unfortunately, it was my only copy as I could not afford the photocopying costs.
So I sat down to write it all over again, and that novel became Foreign Bodies which was bought by Hutchinson, and published in 1990 to disastrous reviews. The second, A Private Place, was published in 1991. Its slightly more positive reception led to me becoming a critic on various national newspapers including The Independent. Since then, I have continued to combine writing fiction with reviewing it.
Can you imagine, an agent LOSES the ONLY copy of your manuscript, and you have to write the whole damn thing all over again? OH. MY. GOD.