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November 16, 2006


Pavlov's Cat

Don't underestimate the amount of time it takes up to keep a whole household going by yourself, especially if you have any kind of yard or garden. Housework, cat care, shopping, cooking, daily/weekly/monthly maintenance of all sorts, finances, bringing home the bacon ... neither of my parents, never having had to do the whole damn thing themselves, ever really understood why I always seemed to be under the gun. How single mothers manage I will never, ever know. (Single fathers, sensibly, tend to have lower housework standards.)

And now that I'm a one-woman small business, I am not only the primary producer (of bits of writing) but also the accountant, secretary, receptionist, cleaner, cat wrangler, office manager and IT person (hahahahaha).

Also don't forget that academic work in particular will always expand to fill the time available. Especially for women, who are less good at saying No.


All the above is absolutely true tho I since I've done the timetabling, I like to think I've done something clever with it, in terms of timetabling a non-teaching slab for self and an appetising trade-off for colleague.

The thing about housework is just to put an embargo on it till you've reached the writing targets you've set yourself. (Charlene and Sebastiene are a bit confused by this: 'We thought you were a messy eccentric but the place looks pristine today.' Other people don't understand the writer thing.)

Also -- cats contribute heavily to the general mess -- sigh. Track in bits of bottlebrush and other material as well as dropping fur, coughing up furballs, vomitting, etc.


I find myself -- as someone who works from home, and with a partner who goes away a lot -- assuming quite a heavy mantle in terms of domestic responsibility, which I am trying to ameliorate by being organised, putting things back where they should go immediately, not letting things get on top of me, etc. But this is also a bit of a gendered thing, one which we tend to do almost unconsciously.

And even though I am not a literary writer, I still feel like people don't take my work seriously and think I am just sitting at home watching TV and eating chocolate and then whipping out a 2000 word story on the future of cables (sigh) in about half an hour. This was especially an issue when I tried to combine part-time work with writing, and the assumption made by the casual job was that I could drop my writing and go in there whenever because writing wasn't that important.

Anyway I am not sure what the point of this comment is, apart from to whinge. But I have worked harder this year then I ever have in my life, for not much material gain, and at least a big part of that is to do with being a one-woman business, as PC says.

And I can only imagine all this stuff getting worse should I decide to have children.


Two weeks ago I quit a job that I thought was what I'd always wanted to do because I couldn't stand working full-time. I wanted to pursue my own writing. I have had no head space (let alone minutes in the day) to devote to it since I started FT work, though I was building a nice little (VERY little!) portfolio before that. Aside from the writing, I have a child who I kind of like to pay attention to and a partner who is studying and working 4 days a week, so domestic work is my domain. So, I'm about to return to cobbling together a freelance career working from home and I am both terrified and relieved. (My employer was happy to negotiate flexibility, but I knew I needed more than he could give in order to write on the side, spend time with my child and keep my house in some semblance of order.) Work/life balance is tough. It's an ongoing battle I really hope to solve to my satisfaction someday. Sounds like you're doing well, against the odds. Good luck with it!


Possibly because I am mad catwoman living in a middle-level professional job dense environment...also because I am at end of semester, so things look brighter without more classes to prepare!


I admire writers so very much! I aspire to your literacy and dedication. In my time as a student I have learnt that time can be tabled, prioritisation and to always leave the vacuum by the door so if anyone drops in I can say that I was just about to start.... Bartering time can work too. I have a friend who occasionally I swap houses with - just for a couple of hours to clean. Its always easier to clean someone else's house & you don't tend to get caught up in daydreaming or reading or any other procrastination technique.


I read in the Age on the weekend about a couple who were trying to share childcare and domestic responsibilities more equally than the average family. The biggest problem was for the bloke to get part time work. He'd negotiated four days a week with his employer, but after a year it was clear that they really weren't happy - despite having several part-time women at the firm. It made me really sad, and cross that when we talk about work life balance, and women's participation in the workforce, there isnt' enough talk about how we make it possible for blokes like that to do their share on the home front.

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