Motherhood

Balance the writing, motherhood no picnic

Balance the writing, motherhood no picnic



Does motherhood hinder literary creativity or does it reinforce it? Is it possible to be a good mother and a productive writer at the same time? Is it selfish to take time away from your child to pursue your career?

These are just some of the questions addressed in the 20 essays in the illuminating collection. Good Mom on Paper: Writers on Creativity and Motherhoodedited by Stacey May Fowles and Jen Sookfong Lee.


Happy mom on paper

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Happy mom on paper

Lee, a British Columbia-based editor and novelist, and Fowles, a Toronto-based columnist and novelist, compiled the collection to highlight the particular challenges, sacrifices and triumphs experienced by women, like them, who simultaneously seek to be caring mothers. and working writers.

In doing so, the editors discovered that all of the mothers/writers who contributed to their collection – including straight, gay, BIPOC, single and adoptive parents – grappled with similar considerations, insecurities and balancing acts.

And yet, despite their shared experiences, each also had unique insights and thoughts to share on the conundrum of motherhood writing. Some admitted to being content with letting their writing take precedence over motherhood, while others felt guilty for not having done so. Some resented the time motherhood took away from their creative pursuits, while others relished the opportunity motherhood offered to take a break from pursuing their craft. It is this variation that makes Happy mom on paper such a captivating read.

Of course, as with any collection of essays, some pieces are stronger than others, and in this case, those that divulge the difficulties of motherhood beyond the typical (and expected) newborn issues that are the most poignant and provocative. By examining the challenges inherent in parenting a child with special needs, for example, trials Echolalia by Anonymous, The tree that gives by Adelle Purdham and Disability by Lorri Neilsen Glenn powerfully attest to the fact that the choice or ability to write or not—even when it is the source of one’s livelihood—is not so simple or straightforward for some mothers.

After recounting a decade passed in a whirlwind of simple words and phrases – broken bones, broken down cars, school reunions, tantrums, guests, sick dogs, school reunions, specialists and endless plates of spaghetti – Neilsen Glenn simply admits: “Try to write it. Try to write? Just breathe.

This vulnerability and honesty are common to most of the essays in the book, including Lite Brite Times Square, the most engaging piece in the collection. In it, Heather O’Neill, arguably the collection’s most successful contributor, recalls meeting a social worker about educational programs for young single mothers and telling him she wanted to study to be a writer.

“’Oh, no, no,’ said the social worker from behind the glass partition. ‘I am really sorry. But you can’t choose to be a writer.

It turned out that the social worker was wrong. O’Neill, the mother, could choose to be a writer. And like all the other women depicted in this collection of essays, she found a way to be reasonably successful in both.

Sharon Chisvin is a mother, grandmother, writer and editor of the anthology Write to Move from Winnipeg.


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