Literary Reflections is pleased to present our featured writing prompt response from January. We asked, “Have you ever felt torn between the demands of work and domesticity and your personal need to create and write? What mountain did you have to climb to pass from a state of domestic certitude to the sometimes frightening, frequently challenging state of being a writer?”
This month the submissions were so good, we chose two! Please check back on Monday, February 2, 2009 to read the other.
Liesl Jurock wrote:
Following maternity leave last year, I started a new job full time, completed my master’s degree, and transitioned my one-year-old son into daycare. It was the biggest mountain I have ever faced. I’ve never been busier or spread more thinly. The pieces I wrote during that summer are few and far between, are raw and brimming with reality. They aren’t well written and I wouldn’t share them. But they are there, a testament to the fact that through it all, I still found time for my craft, for my art, and for me.
It seems bizarre now, when there is an abundance of time—the masters is finished, work has settled down, and my almost two-year-old son is so independent—that I produce even fewer pieces of writing. I prioritize doing the dishes, working late, and updating my Facebook status over writing. I state proudly that I always put work before play, but a part within me wonders if that isn’t all an elaborate form of procrastination from writing, my true life’s work.
Because I told myself, when I was done with nursing my boy and finishing school and catching up with work, I could write. I told myself, when I wrote, I could publish and share my work. I told myself, when I published, I could make money, and give up my day job. I told myself, I could create a pathway to a future where I could just write.
And know the thought of just writing terrifies me. I know now why I choose laundry over the blank page. What an enormous mountain I have set up for myself—even bigger than the one I scaled last year. In fact, I’d rather relive that overwhelming juggling act than face the mountain I’ve created in my head. Because facing it means that what I write next has to be something, has to get me somewhere, has to be important to someone. No wonder I feel paralyzed. I have created a summit I cannot see and instead of just having fun climbing around the edges, I am afraid to even walk around the base.
But I must. Instead of allowing my profession and domesticity to block out my inner voice, I must listen to it. It is calling me, calling me to write, calling me to reflect, and calling me to share my work. It is not calling me to create a mountain I have to climb, but just to look around and write about it. That I can do.
Liesl Jurock can be reached at: lieslrocks(at)gmail(dot)com.