Claire Dederer points out an unavoidable artist’s problem in her book Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma. Talking about this is a bit controversial in today’s social climate, but bear with me. Here’s what she writes:
“What the artist or writer or musician needs desperately is time. And what the family needs is time. This conflict is not necessarily solvable. . . . The truth is, art-making and parenthood act very efficiently as disincentives to one another, and people who say otherwise are deluded, or childless, or men.”
That last bit was harsh.
But, honestly, is she wrong? When I first started writing a novel, back in 2005, I thought it would take me a year to complete it. Little did I know that, 10 years on, it would still remain unfinished. I began writing my book of poetry in 2016, and I finalized the manuscript this year, in 2023.
And I don’t even have kids. Though I do have a full-time job. I also had to take time off writing for health reasons.
But a family requires the most time of all.
In any case, there are always choices in life. And Dederer notes that the problem is particularly difficult for female artists with a family, because women are most often the ones who shoulder the biggest part of the responsibility for raising children.
Can you have it all?