I think it’s important for writers, especially new writers, to understand that everyone’s first novel was written under impossible circumstances. Most people are writing their first novel around the edges of a job; they’re writing on the train; they’re writing with kids at home. My students think, “This is impossible. I can’t do this,” and we’ll talk about how most first novels have been written that way.
Both parents have to be willing to start over, to treat co-parenting as a new, separate relationship—not a new battleground to keep rehashing the past or punishing the other parent. Treat it like a business arrangement, if you have to; you don’t have to be friends, or even like each other; just be civil. It helps immensely if you can trust and respect your co-parent.
Then, when my sons were in the NICU, I had a lightning-bolt moment. Life was short and unpredictable. I couldn’t just sit around and think about how someday I’d write a bunch of books. I realized that I didn’t really know that much about writing, but I knew that it was an art, and I knew how to be a working artist.
The twenties are abundant with fascinating social, political, and economic issues and upheavals! So often, the first images that come to mind with “The Roaring Twenties” are glitzy flapper girls in cities, with jazz playing in the background. There’s nothing wrong with exploring that part of the era, but as I studied the decade, I was struck by how different life was in rural areas.
It was complicated being written about as a child. When your parent writes about you, there’s a bizarre thing that happens that feels like ownership, like somehow your parent owns that story. Because they have more facility with language and more knowledge when they write, they get to tell their version of a story that may have been partially or completely your story. And that’s hard.
I had my kids in my late thirties, so I had built a life as an independent adult woman who answered to no one; in profound ways, both my body and my life as I knew them had to be split open, broken, and relinquished, at least for a while, in order to step into the role of mother.
We publish profiles of writers who are mothers, writers who write about motherhood, and writers who have something to say to mothers. This includes well-known, living mama writers, of course, but also off-beat, lesser-known, not-so-obvious mama writers. Read more here.