- by Deb Mullins
It’s the morning of Easter Sunday as I write this, and I am pondering this afternoon’s celebration at my mother-in-law’s house. The usual thoughts go through my head. Son #1 is working this morning and will be coming separately. Does he remember how to get to MIL’s house? What time will he arrive? Does Son #2 have any clean clothes? Will I have time to write today? Do male writers ever have to worry about stuff like this?
Whoa. Backtrack. Do male writers ever have to worry about stuff like this?
I truly have no answer for this question. I have been a professional writer for over ten years now; however, I write romance novels. This means that 99.99% of the writers I know are female. I kid you not-I can count the number of male writers I know on one hand and never even use all the fingers. So this really is a question where I have no answer.
This got me wondering. How do gender roles affect the writing schedules of male writers versus female writers? For instance, up until a few of decades ago, men were supposed to be the breadwinners and women were supposed to take care of the home and children. Then women started getting into the workplace-and they still were expected to take care of the home and children in addition to working.
So when a man has a deadline and needs to lock himself in his office and write for hours, I would assume no one blinks an eye. This is his job. He is winning bread. But if a woman needs to do the same thing, there is usually a juggling act that must precede said sequestering because of her other obligations-home, children, managing the family social schedule, dealing with doctors’ appointments for the family, et cetera.
I know many female writers who wake up before dawn to squeeze in their pages before the kids get up so they are assured writing time with no interruptions. It’s the only time available to them because in general, women are the social directors of their families. They run the kids to soccer practice and volunteer at the church and stay in contact with family members. They make arrangements for holidays and birthdays. Once those kids are up and about, any thought of uninterrupted time becomes a really nice fantasy.
Add to that another factor-there are female writers like me who work outside the home at a 9-5 job, while balancing a writing career and home and children and social obligations. More things to fit into the same 24-hour day. The juggling act gets trickier.
I know this is the 21st century. I know that now more than ever before, men are taking a more active role in the home and family life. On the TV show Castle, author Rick Castle admitted that he stayed home with his daughter when she was growing up while his wife was working a day job. But that is fiction. Does this happen in real life? Is it that the writer becomes the caregiver by default because that person is home, or is it gender based, where traditional roles apply? I know my own husband runs the non-driving son to his social engagements, does the grocery shopping and is the family chef (I do the dishes and allocate the correct Tupperware containers for the leftovers). He is amazingly supportive of my writing career and my determination to make a success of it. However, based on what I have heard from other female writers over the years, he may well be an exception to the rule. And he is not a writer himself.
Is this kind of teamwork normal in today’s writer marriages? Do male writers pitch in with the family and home life or are they left alone to work while their wives carry on the conventional female roles in the home? Are there female writers out there whose husbands take over hearth and home during deadline dementia? What happens if both husband and wife are writers and they have kids? How does the work get divvied up? How prevalent are gender roles in our home lives, really?
Which leads me back to my original question. Do male writers have to worry about the same kinds of time management issues female writers do? Inquiring minds really want to know.