Writers, writing, children
VS Naipaul has often said that he never had children because they would have got in the way of his writing. (Patrick French’s excellent biography, The World Is What It Is, though, tells us that as with several of Naipaul’s public pronouncements, this isn’t entirely true, but that’s another matter.) Cyril Connolly, that grand man of English letters, was unequivocal when he said: “There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hallway.”
But then, lots of writers do have children (just as lots of non-writers, too, choose to not have children, and lots of non-writers choose to). The matter doesn’t so much come up with, say, brand managers or investment bankers, but there is something about the self-perpetuating self-mythologising that grows around the arts that encourages the discussion of this when it comes to writers.
This piece in the Guardian goes into the issue in detail, written by a novelist who is a father of seven.
Me? I wouldn’t trade being a father for anything. I have a consuming day job, and if I manage to write in spite of that, I can’t quite see how being a parent gets in the way of my writing.
I do a lot of my writing when my daughter is asleep or out of the house, but even if I am at work when she is home, and even if she keeps coming in to check how many words I have written in how many hours, I’d say, without a shred of doubt, that parenting shouldn’t be an obstacle to getting writing done.
Apart from everything else, it’s rich material in all sorts of ways for anyone who fancies himself as a writer.
What are your thoughts on the subject?