The Pequod Review:
Hayao Miyazaki's book Starting Point is an insightful collection of essays, interviews and notes drawn from early in the great Japanese animator's career. One of the best pieces is his blunt 1992 essay, "I Left Raising Our Children to My Wife." In it, Miyazaki candidly describes the selfishness that was so essential to his success:
You want me to talk about my family? That's a problem for me. I'm hardly ever at home. Last night I got home at 1:30 AM, the night before it was 1 AM. It's not as if I go out on the town. I'm a father who works too hard and returns home late at night six days a week. Usually I repeat, "I've got to go now," several times as I eat breakfast; when I have the rare day off all I do is sleep.
That is why I have left family affairs and raising our children to my wife. She was a colleague when we were at Toei Animation, so she understands my work and how much labor is needed to complete a project. She had wanted to continue to work on her drawings. When we got married, I promised her that we would both have careers. Until our second son was born, I used to take the older one to preschool and meet him there at the end of the day. But when I saw our older son walking home half asleep, I decided that it was impossible for both of us to work.
I still feel contrite about breaking my promise. But since then I have been able to focus on my work.
A common feature of many great artists is how the loyalty to their craft (or their audience) can lead them to be terrible spouses or parents. Few are so honest about it though.