Every time I say it, a fat ball of shame shakes its finger at me somewhere in my mind. I might as well be asking, "Do you mind doing the dishes, cleaning the house, figuring out the taxes, and raising our offspring while I go off to eat ice cream sandwiches and lie in a hammock?"
It's the reason I put my two year old in preschool despite my paltry $700 a month income.
There are a THOUSAND (a thousand and two?) things I could be doing, SHOULD be doing, other than writing. The house needs to be cleaned. I need to go grocery shopping. I really should be grading papers. I haven't called my mom in three weeks. Writing takes me away from everything important in my life; most essentially, it takes me away from my family, i.e. my child.
I should be playing with the kid, not making up nonsense stories no one may ever read.
I should be grading papers, helping my students improve their writing skills, not stringing together words I may never get a cent for.
I should be sweeping up the carpet of dog hair from the floor, not looking up synonyms for the word "guilt."
It's plagued me ever since I started taking this whole writing thing seriously. Actually, even before that.
A couple of years ago, I attended a writers' conference and managed to build up enough confidence to ask the presenters during one of the sessions about my bugaboo situation--How do you find time to write without feeling guilty about it?
Well, that was the gist of what I asked. It didn't come out nearly that perfectly when I said it aloud, of course.
The speaker responded by saying that when you go off by yourself to write, you're not just goofing off. You're working.
And it is work. Yeah, I know it. It IS work. I mean, I dread writing just as much as I look forward to it. It's hard, and I even as I do it, I know in my heart that I'm doing it wrong.
Okay, so it's not like picking cotton in 100 degree weather...at least usually it's not, and I don't get paid the big bucks for it. Heck, I don't get paid anything for it at this point. But it is work all the same. It's certainly not mindless pleasure.
Luckily, I've managed to carve out a writing niche for myself by enrolling my little girl in preschool three days a week and using the little bit of change I have left over after grading papers. Guilt-free writing time! But it's not much. And it's s-l-o-w going. But at least it doesn't come, like fries, with a side of guilt.
And until I get an agent and a book deal, that's the best I can hope for, I suppose.