Friday, December 10, 2010

Thoughts on motherhood and writing

Is there a connection between mothering and publishing?

Yes! Early on there was a positive correlation, on the side of publishing. Every time a baby popped out a book did too. It only happened twice, as there were just two babies--but it looked like a trend.

Then the correlation, er, shifted. My first year without a contract was 2001, the year I home-schooled my daughter to save her sparkle from the bullies. At the start of September that year, I called my agent and pushed back the appointment in New York we'd set for September 11th. That appointment was never rescheduled. While this was a setback career-wise, it was an advantage for child-rearing: it's pretty hard to fulfill two full-time career obligations at once. One thing I know for certain: it's not about quality time with children, it's about quantity time. I was blessed with just two priceless and fragile lives to nurture, whereas on the other hand, "Of making many books there is no end." (Ecclesiastes.)

Some mischievous force often seemed to present direct choices between mothering and career. In the early years of my series my agent came to Colorado for a conference. It was the exact weekend my daughter received a surprise invitation to the National Ski Team qualifying weekend at Breckenridge. Anguished, I consulted our older and wiser Brother of the Quill Jim Hester, the father of three grown sons, about which to choose. He said, "I've never known anyone who regretted choosing family over career." Another year I was asked by Dartmouth to give an alumni seminar on my own work. I was thrilled until I realized it was the exact week our daughter would compete in the bagpiping World Championships in Edinburgh. Fortunately, by then I knew which was the better choice. Jim was right: I have no regrets.

Yesterday a feature on Jan Karon in the Wall Street Journal said her hugely successful writing career started at age 50, roughly my age now. My youngest daughter leaves the nest next year; perhaps the correlation will shift again.
-Storm Petrel

1 comment:

  1. Your post gives me hope, pride, and encouragement. It describes exactly what I experienced writing in the context of motherhood. My youngest heads off to college also next fall. Looking back, I wouldn't trade one hour of mothering for 1,000 devoted to writing. - Inkpot