Author Laurell K. Hamilton ruminates on her blog about the difficulties of balancing writing and family obligations…
I read how Eugene O’Neill, the playwright had his third wife, Carlotta, make sure that no one bothered him in the morning while he worked. No phone, no callers, nothing. Not even if the house were on fire. Everyone went around on tip-toes, speaking in hushed voices. At lunch she was afraid to even move to make her chair squeak for fear of disturbing the man’s concentration. She also sorted his mail, which frankly is a fine idea, but the rest . . . Yeah, it’s occasionally appealing to be that protected from the world. But how would it possibly work? What, I have a nanny to tend my daughter and never see her? You just give up your entire life to other people, and care only about the writing?
There are other writers that did similar things. Asimov worked an average of twenty hours a day, and supposedly never left his office during a work session. His wife brought him food. There are numerous other stories about writers that did that. Most, if not all of them, male, but I don’t see how it would work. I mean was O’Neill not told if his mother was ill, if he was in the middle of a play? Did he only learn of it afterwards? Was he that protected? Or did emergencies disturb the great man’s schedule? But what, I’m not going to greet my daughter home from the first day of third grade? I’m going to miss that? I don’t think so.
My husband and I were both there huddled under an umbrella in the unusually cold down pour, when she got off the bus for the first day of third grade.
I don’t know how to balance real life with the writing. I really don’t. But I just don’t think I could isolate myself to the degree that some have done and be happy with the decision. It would be as if the writing were more real than your life. How weird would that be? Also, truthfully, the thought of making everyone tip-toe around and whisper because I was working is a little too primadonna for me. I would feel silly asking my family and friends to do stuff like that. But hey, that’s just me. Eugene O’Neill was the first American writer to win the Nobel Prize for literature. He won four Pulitzer prizes for drama. Some scholars claim that he’s the third most widely translated and produced dramatist after William Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw. Not bad, not bad at all.
It’s a problem we all face. I know I do. I work all day on MISSING… and then I chme home at night and work on my DIAGNOSIS MURDER novels. I also squeeze in booksignings here and elsewhere (like Bouchercon or Left Coast Crime). But at the same time, I want to help my daughter with her homework, see her soccer games, take her to karate practice… and just hang out. Managing time is a daily problem for me…and, I suspect, all writers.