I am glad, in this article (The parent trap), as an example, Tracy Chevalier has answered this question exactly how I would have liked to answer it..."maybe what's in the pram – breathing, vulnerable life, hope, a present responsibility – is actually more important than good art. It might make us produce less art, but maybe it would be art with the future at its heart." (Frank Cottrell Boyce's words)
A few years ago, I decided that for me family comes first. Writing is secondary. Family cannot be allowed to suffer on account of writing. Even if it means courting failure, so be it. After all, isn't success the greatest enemy of promise? A balance is required. A writer, with his family, needs to form a truce of cooperation to create art. A lot of books in our age are unreadable because writers religiously write at least a book a year (a business model?) and don't have the time or inclination to raise a family or go and buy turnips. What kind of art will come from that kind of life? Lifeless, manufactured, arid...make your list.
I enjoyed reading this piece by Frank Cottrell Boyce on writing and parenthood:
For centuries, writers have sung the virtues of staying connected to the routine and the mundane. Real creativity should feel like a game, not a career. Having to hang out the washing or get up and make breakfast helps you remember that your "work" is actually fun. And for it to stay fun, you have to be unafraid of failure. It's very powerful to be surrounded by people who love you for something other than your work, who are unaware of the daily, painful fluctations of your reputation. I discovered recently that my youngest child thought I spent my days typing out more and more copies of my book Millions, so that everyone could have one.
Writing is a peculiar balancing act between freedom and discipline. Writers are free to spend their days doing whatever they like; but if they don't write, then they are not writers. They are on their own and so vulnerable to every distraction, whether that's drink or the Antiques Roadshow. Jonathan Franzen has said that "it is doubtful that anyone with an internet connection in his workplace is writing good fiction". Family is, of course, the most potent distraction, and probably the only distraction that makes you feel virtuous when you surrender to it.