On Writing and Guilt
3 January 2014
Today, I want to talk about writing and guilt and family. Bear with me, as I’m likely to say things you might not agree with. That’s okay, we all have different experiences and ways of looking at the world.
My good friend, John, wrote a blog post today about Writing and Guilt. You should go read that first. Don’t worry; this post will be here when you get back. Did that? Good.
Let me give some context. I have a day job that’s not writing. I’m a software developer, and it provides very well for my family. Writing and editing and game design are a sideline for me. Sometimes it’s fun, sometime’s it’s not. In general, I enjoy it, and I have a knack for it (or so I think and have been told).
Having said that, let’s start with John’s point about the sense of duty that someone feels to their family. John’s partially right that this is a social construct, but it’s not just a social construct. I think it’s right that you feel a sense of obligation to your spouse and children (regardless of gender of you or your spouse, honestly). Can it be out of balance? Of course it can. We as humans can twist any good desire into something wrong; that’s part of our nature.
I want to be very careful in how I proceed here. I’m about to say something controversial and possible dangerous if taken out of context.
Not all guilt is bad.
Let me be VERY clear. A lot of the time, the guilt we feel is false. This is the kind of guilt that John is talking about. In my view, guilt is a good time to stop and consider the source of the guilt. It might be that you’re worrying when you shouldn’t. But it might be that you’ve taken this desire to an extreme to the detriment of your family.
So what do you do? You talk to your spouse or significant other (SO). Find out how they perceive the situation. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if your guilt is right or wrong, but your SO should be able to give you insight and their perception of the situation. That’s part of their responsibility as your spouse / SO.
So you’ve determined that your guilt is well-founded. What do you do now? You can shift your priorities. Find time to write that doesn’t impact your family. Maybe it’s staying up later, or getting up earlier. The solution will have to be unique to your situation.
What if your guilt isn’t well-founded? Drop the guilt. Follow John’s advice.
I’ll close with an expanded version of my quote.
“If writing is important to you, then find time to do it, whenever that might be.” -Jeremy Morgan