Sunday, November 18, 2012

Moms Who Write

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I’ve been reading a number of blogs lately, written by young mothers torn between their desire to write and their role as a parent. The conflict reminded me of when my (now adult) children were both under three and I was trying to juggle part-time freelance work for local and regional publications. Bulky, noisy personal computers (with next-to-nil memory capacities) were just starting to become home “appliances.” The Internet was pretty much a long, rudimentary, and vastly detoured route to information and communication (pre-easy search engine days). Yet, with a computer purchased at Railroad Savage (a commercially unsuccessful model made by the manufacturers of Royal typewriters) I was able to find and complete enough work to put off going back to full-time teaching until my son and daughter were students themselves.

The writing did not interfere with me spending time with my children. It allowed me to put aside full-time teaching for ten years and spend more time at home with them while still contributing some to the household income. Writing moms are fortunate to be able to work from home, set their own hours, and slow business matters down  when home issues must prevail.
I wish I could remember the name of the computer that failed in the mass market. I do remember using it to write an essay for the Connecticut Writing Project newsletter; a piece I dug out of a trunk in my hallway this afternoon.  (The search led to some pretty deep cleaning- never a bad thing!).
I find it interesting that my 25-year-old essay raises pretty much the same questions I’ve been reading on young writer-Moms' blogs. In it, I wonder how many articles a freelancing mom can brainstorm, research, and write, sharing her day with a toddler and baby.(The blog concept really hadn't come into everyday play yet).
Researching the essay, way back when, I found that the overwhelming majority of writers with children agreed family life actually widened their experiences. Novelist and short story writer Anne Tyler, in her early forties then, said that since she had children she had grown richer and deeper. “They may have slowed down my writing for awhile,” she said, “but when I did write, I had more of a self to speak from.” Tyler admits not much writing got done until her children started school. Even then, she said she had to put up “partitions” in her mind that separated her writer and mother roles. She spent a lot of time learning how to close either door when ordinary life intervened or it was time to start writing again. She also likened the process to being like a string she had to learn  to tighten and  loosen, whenever necessary.
A string I'm tightening myself - until I can finish this up in my next blog, for I'm off to see my son - who's a couple of hours away - and my daughter and grandson on the return trip. 


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