I wanted to be a writer before I wanted to be a parent, and my greatest fear in having children was that I would no longer be able to write. I knew few mother-writers. I was terrified it couldn’t be done, and that in choosing parenthood I was sacrificing my artistic goals.
That fear drove me, and instead of losing my writing I became more disciplined, more efficient, and more dedicated as a writer, bypassing inner resistance and procrastination and the paralysis of perfectionism because there wasn’t time for that anymore. Motherhood turned me into the writer I had striven for decades to become: a writer who shows up (at 5:30 in the morning, if need be). A writer who just does it. A writer who writes.
Becoming a mother required a huge metamorphosis and opened up a deep layer of thought and inquiry in me, and so it's also become a richly inspiring topic for my writing. Much of the creative non-fiction I’ve published since becoming a parent has focused on this journey: maternal ambivalence, grappling with what it means to be a mother and an artist, choosing to mother in the unconventional way that I did—namely by becoming a biological and adoptive mother simultaneously—and finally my evolving relationship with the two precious humans I am privileged to call my daughters.
I spent a morning this week thinking about the ways in which being a parent has inspired and challenged my creative life. This thanks to the Sustainable Arts Foundation, which is a fantastic non-profit I learned about only recently whose mission is to support artists and writers with families. Given that being a parent has inspired and challenged my creative life a whole heck of a lot, I am beyond appreciative that somebody out there is actively working to help artist parents flourish. As they say:
Too often, creative impulses are set aside to meet the wonderful, but pressing, demands of raising a family. The foundation's goal is to encourage parents to continue pursuing their creative passion, and to rekindle it in those who may have let it slide.
How much do I love this? I love this very much.
If you're a writer or visual artist who is also a parent of a child under 18, they have a grant deadline coming up Sept. 8.
I'm honored to be the inaugural interviewee in writer and editor Erika Westman's brand new video series with emerging authors, ever-so-cleverly called Pre-Authorized. She aims to capture the thoughts, experiences, and wisdom of people who've been writing for years but whose debut books are still on the cusp of representation or publication. We sat down together in her dining room a couple Saturdays ago and I answered her questions about my novel, my writing process, and how I got to where I am now.
I wish my glasses weren't covering my eyes for most of the interview, but Erika assures me that a person's IQ jumps from highly intelligent to genius when wearing glasses.