November 14, 2013

The Pram in the Hallway

Dear M,

Surely you have heard the controversial comment: "The pram in the hallway is an enemy of good art". Unkind as it is to the baby, I like to (as usual) believe that there is more to it that the reference to the pram.

Mothers would agree that working on creativity when there is a baby demanding your attention can be challenging as well as frustrating, because you do not get the time to spend on your work as much you would like to, and when the burst of creativity surges in, you cannot leave your child and attend to it. You will have to store it in your head and let it out later.

I know many writers (who are not Moms) who do not have the luxury of writing when they want to. They have to devote their attention to other very important things - as demanding as a crying infant - and squeeze time between these to attend to their passion. Illness (their own as well as that of their spouses or parents or siblings), taking care of aged parents, a 24 X 7 profession, a job that requires them to travel back and forth almost every day, are just some of them. Those are the prams in their hallway. So the phrase is not strictly limited to mothers.

I don't say that the pram (or its metaphorical reference to other demands of life) is an enemy of good art. It probably does keep the artist away from his work. But in a way, it contributes to his creativity. It helps him to think. If he is always bent over his work, he loses the wider view. He needs to step back and think, once in a while. He might not do it on his own. When the pram demands his attention, he has to take a break. The issues in his life might make their way into his book because he is writing about people who face and tackle difficult situations, not about the ones who are luxuriously locked up in their rooms writing, sleeping and eating all the time. Let's face it: it's the pain that brings out the best artist in you.

The pram in the hallway is not an enemy of good art, instead it is actually a stimulant for creativity.
That's what I like to believe, anyway.


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  1. I believe this is not true. Most of the best mombloggers are awesome!


  2. Clearly Cyril Connolly had not idea what he was talking about.
    Thanks for the comment!

  3. agreed with reservations... that burst of creativity is very spontaneous and creates the best rough draft.... the "pram" at that point may be killing, but if you have the first impulse preserved, it may help.. In the end i think there is always the scope of ones dedication, and the more one is destroyed by his/her art, more is the likelihood of a masterpiece... socially quirky artists are not unusual... For meager fellow like me, my diverted attention will produce just as good art, as is expected... beautiful article again ..

    1. You're right, if one is dedicated enough, nothing can (should) stand in the way.