On parents, children and creativity – perfectly timed for the middle of half term week.
Speaking on Radio 4 recently, writer Alison Moore suggested it was having a young child (Arthur, now 3) that made her knuckle down and write the ‘The Lighthouse’, her first full-length (albeit quite slender) novel. It must be more than decent, as it made the shortlist for the Man Booker prize.
She had written short stories, but up to then had always put off starting work on something longer.
According to Moore, “If I didn’t sit down and do it every evening, I was admitting that I would never get round to do it”.
Taking this attitude could be just the tonic for anyone who wants to get down to some serious writing but is resistant to the prospect of holing themselves up, on their own or with other lost literary souls, in a writer’s retreat, imagining that they will emerge blinking into the bright light of civilisation with the best part of their labour of love completed.
I can imagine that in many cases the seclusion of a hermit-like existence would actually drive the fragile creative mind to despair, as blank pages sit waiting to be filled with words before the sun sets on another day.
By contrast, the hustle of life at work or managing a family (or both) stokes up the imagination. The busy but settled routine of domestic life – generally, once your toddler is in bed you have earned some ‘me’ time – focuses the mind and offers a useful daily writing slot spread out over a period of months.