The other day as I was wrapping up a phone interview, my subject asked where I was phoning her from. Well, I was calling her from my office, I explained, the law office where I work full time. It’s my lunch hour; I write on the side.
Oh, she said, it’s nice that you have time to do that.
This comment really got my goat. My hackles raised and I felt so … belittled. It’s nice that you have time to spend on your little hobby – I’m too busy doing important things, she meant.
Hey, guess what lady, I felt like saying, I DON’T have time to write. Who the fuck does? Most writers MAKE time, they don’t HAVE it. Unless you’ve got that big advance and you can sit around in your jammies all day writing, you’re MAKING time. We also don’t FIND time. That suggests a happy coincidence, rather than a deliberate decision. And guess what else? Making time SUCKS. I make time to write by getting up at 5 or 6 in the morning, and saying no to invitations, and skipping my workout, and not cleaning my apartment, and ignoring my own well-being, and sometimes sacrificing the goodwill of family and friends. I do it because I LIKE it and it MATTERS.
Luckily most of my friends and family accept it. Even more luckily, they mostly encourage it.
But you know, it’s not just writing I’ve heard this kind of shitty back-handed compliment applied to. People say it about all kinds of pursuits. Oh, I wish *I* had time to: knit, read, make art, go to the gym, they’ll say, trivializing whatever you’re doing that they aren’t. But these are not little hobbies. These are meditations, and downtime, and self-care, and political acts. This stuff is important. You MAKE time.