Sunday, April 1, 2007

Now I Can't Whine Anymore.

There was a thread over on the Plays and Playwrights group a while ago about whether having kids had helped or hindered writers in their careers. Now me, I'm always ready to use any available excuse for why I'm not rich and famous and racking up the Tonys and Pulitzers. Kids seem to be a pretty handy reason for why stuff doesn't get done, or why I can't go places. They're good for getting you out of attending events you really don't want to (and, as an added bonus, my kids are old enough to actually do chores now.) I have to say that, unfortunately, one big downside of working in theatre is that is that it's not a very parent-friendly career.

Then Jamie Pachino, who is a friend, mother, and terrific writer had to post this:

Sun Mar 11, 2007

I've been reading this thread with great interest, as I do
believe that (1) having children, being a wife, a caretaker
and an artist at the same time is VERY HARD and (2) I
still manage to pull it off.

In 2006, I gave birth to a new baby, had the world premiere
of a new play at a LORT theatre (which was subsequently
produced at another LORT, and the SPF Festival in NYC and
won an award for science plays), parented my 4 year old,
wrote 2 scripts for Lifetime (one of which was produced
and aired, the other of which will air this May), wrote an
animated feature for Disney, handed in a feature to Dreamworks
which won't go anywhere-- and all while my husband traveled
218 days out of the year (no seriously, we had to add it up
for tax purposes last week), and did I mention, I broke my
ankle while i was 7 months pregnant? Yeah. That too.

Now. This was an EXCEPTIONAL year for me, both in the
amount of work that was produced and created, as well
as the actual bodily creation that was going on. It also,
obviously, afforded me a chunk of money to pay for some
help to watch my children while my husband was off working,
and I was paying the bills and being an artist. But that was
only 1/2 days, because I didn't want to just give birth to
them, I want to actually hang around with them too.

Understand, though, that this is the product of having spent
about 6 years pre-children promoting the crap out of my work,
traveling to both coasts on a regular basis, taking meetings,
networking, being part of an amazing Chicago theatre
community where I had spent several years as a working
actor (I'm now in LA), and working my ass off to create one
play after another, as well as several film samples of my work.
I busted my ass, and I rarely slept. (Now I rarely sleep too,
but that's a whole other matter).

Are there days when I feel like I'm cheating both my children
and my art? You bet. Are there days when I wish I could go
do a writer's retreat for a month, the way I had the luxury
to do when I was w/o kids? Absolutely. Is it harder to carve
out time to write? Hallelujah, amen. It's HARD. But I do it.
Because my goal was always to have a big life. To be the
artist I could be, to not back down from the themes, the
ideas and the craft I wanted to pursue, and to also build
a marriage and a family in the same way. I wanted a big life.
Do I work my ass off way more now than ever? Holy Christ,
you betcha. Does it pay off? Many days, yes. Some days
I wanna crawl under the covers.

Frankly, I don't know how people who can't afford help, or
start working and trying to climb the ladder when they
have their young children do it. My hat is sincerely, 100%
off to them. And I'm very jealous of my husband, who does
travel so much, who works regularly as an award winning
sound designer and composer off-Bway and at every major
regional in the country. He's living the life of the artist
I wish I could some days. On the other hand, he misses so
much back here, and it's a trade off. But as I'm paying the
bills, doing the laundry, cooking the meals, cleaning the
meals, giving baths, going to the playground, sneaking on
my computer, writing to plays and playwrights, finishing
a new script for Lifetime, trying to catch a shower and
more than 5 hours of sleep a night... I find the wherewithall
to write this note, because it's worth it to show that it
can be done, but not without effort.

Your mileage may vary.

Jamie Pachino

After reading that, how can I possibly whine anymore about not having enough time or energy? I'm a slacker! I actually did add it up, once upon a time, and it turned out that I've actually been MORE productive in my writing since I've had kids than before. But it certainly doesn't always feel that way.

I've got a couple role model friends, and Jamie's definitely one of them. (Except, sadly, I need more than five hours of sleep a night.)


katrog said...

Whine--I feel far too guilty to whine :) So far today (1 PM) I have made the bed, read the newspaper, eaten two meals, and read a bunch of blogs.


patrick said...

That sounds so much like my day. I was supposed to go to the dentist, but they canceled. I could have done work, right? No, that would be too productive. Instead I felt compelled to finally get a new car radio to replace the one that's been broken for four months.