I have yet to get my Christmas tree out of the house, and the same goes for the Christmas cards my dutiful husband had made more than a month ago. At least I can say that I’ve managed to fit a good book into the first weeks of 2016.
Somehow, for all my best efforts, I wasn’t raising a daughter who loved to read. Nevertheless, I was deeply grateful she felt safe enough to speak her mind.
Secure, she could tell me she didn’t like to read, crushing my hopes. Secure, she could hurl her dart at me, and though it found its mark, I knew that her declaration didn’t completely square with reality.
Barbara Buckner Suarez
I. Love. My. Job. I am one of those lucky people who can say, sincerely, that I’m doing what I came into this world to do. I would—and do—teach classes and attend births without getting paid a dime. I’d like to tell you it’s because I’m a good and moral person, but that’s not the whole story. When I’m in front of a group of expectant mamas and their partners, I’m on fire. I’m in the flow. I’m a rock star. And yet . . .
As soon as my son and I started a book club several years ago, I realized it was an opportunity to draw the boys inside this euphoric feeling, to build the connective tissue for them between the many levels of creation—the energy embodied in mountains and streams, the inspiration of artists, and the creative fires inside themselves.
It was just a game, really. The kids would get bored if I took too long at this. I could see the center; I knew where I was headed. And then I realized what that urge said about me.
So many of the books I drawn to, whether to read a first time or over again, have an element of family and food. This month our staff share favorites on the topic of Family Cooking, a focus of discussion for many households this month.
Would he like all of the books I picked out? Would he see the collection as a gift or a burden? Knowing that I could not control his reactions, I vowed to continue making these annual selections, while letting go of any expectations about how they might be received. I kept the first part of my vow.
It has taken me a disgracefully long time to absorb an obvious lesson: The common denominator in parenting wisely and writing well is the ability to listen—wholeheartedly, single-mindedly, emptied of need or agenda, utterly open and receptive, turned in full to the person at hand, to the waiting page, warmly and fully present.
For this special #NaNoWriMo edition of Essential Reading, “The Creative Crunch,” our staff and readers recommend books that nudge us to be creative or productive.
We publish essays with an intellectual, as well as personal, focus and that explore the topics of writing as a mother, reading as a mother, and working as a professional. Have you written such a piece? Read more about submitting your work here.
Literary Reflections Archives