On Wednesday I talked a lot about my writers group and how keeping a group like that going takes a lot of time and commitment. For me that time commitment has paid off. I’ve written a lot of books, published most of them, have every reason to believe the others will follow suite, and make enough of the books to keep writing.
Deep down, I want to take credit for that time. I planned for this career my entire life. Every elective I took in high school, every class I took in college, every choice I made along the way was strategically chosen to either help my writing or help me get to a place where I could write full time. I chose to only have only one kid. I chose to give up every Saturday my husband is off (hes off every other weekend) to go to writers group for the last six years. I chose to work from home instead of taking much higher paying in person jobs so I have time to write full time. Believe me, we could use the money, it’s a sacrifice, but it’s one that is starting to pay off economically and definitely pays off in terms of me being happy with my life choices.I made a million other choices and make them every day to protect my writing time and to improve my writing.
I want to take credit for all that planning. I want to take credit for those sacrifices. But I can’t. Because the truth is time is a form of privilege. It costs money. We struggle to get by on his full and my half income, but it’s possible. For many, that’s not an option. Some of those people still become writers or still fulfill whatever their dream is in the tiny bits of free time they’ve managed to eek out for themselves, but for many the idea of free time is a laughable illusion.
But the narrative our society has structured around time doesn’t support that reality. When people say they don’t have time for something, it filters through a listener’s perspective and comes out as “I am lazy.” or “I am not dedicated enough.” We have this underdog mythos so fully ingrained in us that when we hear statements like “it takes a lot of time and commitment,” we hear it as “if you really wanted it enough you’d make that time.”
Time can’t be made. It must be bought. And people genuinely don’t seem to understand that. Don’t believe me? Find a blog, any blog, that mentions a single mom working 2-3 jobs and still can’t make ends meet. Read the suggestions people propose. I promise you someone will suggest she grow her own food to save money. Others will chime in with made from completely scratch meal suggestions to save money, insisting that “it doesn’t take much time.” And it doesn’t seem to once you fall into a rhythm, so I can see why they suggest it. It takes me an hour or two a week to pre-prep freezer or crock pot meals, then the hour or they take to cook a night, less for slow cooker meals, because those I just toss in in the mornings. As someone who has that hour or two a week to make dinners like that, I can attest it saves me a ton of time. It took more at first to figure out recipes and grocery lis, but yeah, eventually it saved time. But that doesn’t matter to someone who literally does not have an hour. Time is like money, once you have it, it’s easier to get more of it, but when you don’t you fall further and further behind and any free bits that you are suddenly gifted with already has a million places to go before you can even begin to be smart with it.
So when I saw it takes time and commitment to become a writer, I’m not downplaying the cost of that time. I don’t mean it as a simple and trite response. Time is a luxury I am fortunate enough to afford.