But they're not telling the truth if they don't teach, one, that writing is hard work, and, two, that you have to give up a great deal of life, your personal life, to be a writer." -- Doris Lessing.
I found this quotation on John Baker's blog (see sidebar), and Googled it, and found a couple of interesting interviews and lists of quotes. Lessing talks a bit about what a writer's life requires, and the life of a single parent who is a writer. She's more realistic than most, I think, about the sacrifices entailed. We who like to think we can have it all should consider ourselves warned.
I think -- and she might well agree -- that "having it all" is a recently created concept, a marketing strategy, a way to get people to consume more things, services, etc. I believe there was a time when everyone expected to make choices that limited their options. Few people expect that now, and we are encouraged to call it progress. But it turns from progress into a burden at a certain point, and I think we've reached that point, both psychologically and in terms of the load on the planet.
A friend from Russia put this succinctly. He described standing in the supermarket looking at the huge number of different varieties of toilet paper for sale -- white, green, pink, blue, scented, unscented, extra-soft, two-ply, recycled, packed in separate rolls, in twos, fours, sixes, eights, dozens. The real question, he said (I'm paraphrasing; it was a long time ago), is why do you need so many choices?
"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield