The call to participate in a blog day for Patry Francis attracted my attention because I’d just enjoyed reading her profile here on Literary Mama. To learn that she’s too ill, right now, from cancer treatment to promote her book, The Liar’s Diary, attracted my sympathy.
I don’t know Francis, and I confess I haven’t read her book, but having just started work on a publicity plan for my own book, I feel terrible at the thought of someone publishing a book and not being able to support it with readings and other events. It’s like putting your kid on a school bus for the first day of kindergarten and saying, “Bye! Good luck! See you at the end of the year!”
So if my writing about her writing can help raise attention to her work, I’m happy to participate. Here’s an excerpt from her profile that struck a chord with me:
I really admire writers who can get a lot of work done when their children are small. I was never one of them. For me, trying to understand who each child was and what they needed to grow and develop their own talents took all the creativity I had. There was no room for me to ponder the inner life of characters. Though I made many outlines and filled notebooks with ideas for the novels I hoped to write, nothing much was finished while there was a child under six in the house.
Writing, if it’s genuine and honest, is an act of supreme empathy. In writing a novel, I struggle to understand my characters, to accept their strengths and weaknesses, to allow them the freedom to be themselves (even when it doesn’t fit in with my plans), to celebrate them, forgive them and then to let them go. When you think of it, it’s very similar to the arc of parenting.
I also think my dedication to my work, both when I met with success and during the long years when I didn’t, has had a positive influence on my children. It’s taught them that if you truly love what you do, the process itself is always the greatest reward.
I have always loved my role as a mother, but I am also grateful to have something that is all my own. As my children are growing older and beginning to leave home, there is a sense of nostalgia and even loss, but that is counter-balanced by the joy I have in my other life: my work. Knowing that mom is busy and happy is also making the transition easier for the children. And, oh yes, one more thing: they are so proud of me.