Thanks to Caroline, This Mom, Melanie Lynne Hauser, and Gayle Brandeis for blogging about the book this week! And Susan reflects more on her earlier post about the book, which brought up feelings for her around motherhood, creativity, and the need for solitude. There’s a great essay up at Literary Mama right now that touches on this. Today, Wonder Mom writes about the book and promises a copy of the book to some lucky commenter, and Asha talks about her favorite pieces. Look for a blog book tour post from Kelly later today!
And now a question from a reader — in this case, also a writer. Jody Mace asks:
How did your own writing change when you had children? Or is parenting just one more thing to write about?
My writing changed completely when I had children. For one thing, it came out of the closet. I’d worked as an editor for about eight years by the time my daughter was born, and I was quite content to hide behind other people’s words. I was too afraid to put my own work out there – and as long as I didn’t, I’d never have to answer the troubling question that nagged at me: what if I tried to publish my work and it was rejected? What if I discovered that although I’d always secretly thought of myself as a writer my whole life, I wasn’t one? Once I had my first child, though, I had a story I couldn’t stop telling. So I started writing for publication, and I found, to my surprise, that rejection is a hell of a lot less painful than giving birth without an epidural.
To answer your second question, it’s true that as I move away from those intense early years of motherhood (my oldest child is now nearly 7), I am less compelled to write about parenting the way I did in the beginning. Now, maybe, it is becoming “one more thing” to write about, instead of the only thing. Before I was published, back when I wrote secret things in computer files with passwords so oblique and obscure that even I forgot them, I had this notion that the reason why I wasn’t writing to be published right then was that I didn’t have my One Big Story. I reasoned that when I finally had my One Big Story, the words would flow, I’d know exactly what to say, I’d have my Big Story to tell, and I’d push past my fear of rejection, because my Big Story would be even bigger than that. Once I found myself on “the dark side” of motherhood, and once I began writing about it, I realized with no small amount of trepidation: my god – here’s my One Big Story, my thing that I can’t shut up about. And I did write, and the words did flow, and I did figure out what to say, and I did face my fear of rejection (and continue to to this day, thanks to the lovely one-star reviewers at Amazon). But what I realized was that this notion of my One Big Story was a lie. I didn’t have only one story to tell; I have a million stories, a ton of stories, I could spend the rest of my life gladly writing down stories. My concept of that One Big Story was a way to protect myself from actually writing one – a way to hold myself back from having to hold myself up to public scrutiny and finally have my writing in the world instead of in my head, or in that password-protected computer file. In the end, I realized, I didn’t have only one big story; I just needed that one big story to get me started.