No, the ethics I'm talking about now concern the poet who isn't an academic, who has a non-academic job, lives with a non-academic(s), has non-academic responsibilities and shared workloads. Poet parents, poet animal rescue workers, poet carpenters, poet house-flippers, whatever. I need your help and insights.
How do you justify sitting in a room surrounded by books, staring at your computer screen, trying to get to that point where you can block everything out to finally work on something you've been thinking about for days, not moving, not talking, just waiting for the first viable word to present itself so you can take off...but outside, the people you love are manual laboring their asses off?
I'm behind on the poem-a-day challenge. I've done every prompt up to the 18th, so I just need to play catch-up a little. I'm bummed that I couldn't keep up my momentum of earlier in the month, but I'm really happy with the poems I've produced, so I'm focusing on that. But when my boyfriend and I get home from work at the same time and he wants to build a dam to make a third level pool in the backyard creek and I want to build quatrains...
|Lots of freeloading frogs in this pond...|
What is work? Rephrase: what is production or productivity? Should we tier our work (i.e., get "top tier," home/income-securing work done first)? I may "labor" for hours over editing older poems, reading reviews and issues of lit mags to stay current, and ordering my chapbook, but my boyfriend will have something indisputably tangible to show for his labor, while my fruits and rewards are more abstract. If I'm not being paid to be a poet, is writing a hobby, a passion, a devoted pastime, or is it still the culture I created for myself in grad school, online, and in cities where I've been active as a poet and made supportive contacts?
When you have other more pressing responsibilities, like paying bills and staying alive, is writing important work or self-important work?
These are not new questions at all. But I gotta say, no matter how devoted I am to writing--and I am devoted, make no mistake--these issues plague me. I'm not an ivory tower artist afraid to get her hands dirty, but I'm not physically strong enough to build rock gardens, either. I am highly protective of my alone time, but need the balance of that work and home-building work (I really kinda like doing dishes. The old-fashioned way. Methodical, meditative. I make lots of important decisions while scrubbing Tupperware. Plus, I'm a homebody earth sign who has trouble relaxing unless her space is clear, her fridge full of food, everything in its place...). The balance of being plugged into my computer half the day and the sun on my face the other half. The balance of living so I have things to write about and then actually writing about them.
Writers, help! I can't be the only one who experiences writer guilt. How do you talk about these things with the non-writers in your lives?