Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Bright Side

Since my pregnancy, I’ve been collecting thoughts about mothering and writing. Two ideas have stayed with me as talismans, helping me in dark moments. One is a quote from Barbara Kingsolver who when asked about writer’s block said something like, “The best cure for writer’s block is having children. Because any minute I had to actually write, I would fall upon the keys like a starved dog.”1

The other idea came from Elizabeth Alexander, the poet who read at Obama’s inauguration. She said that she did some of her best writing in the sleep-deprived early years of her children’s lives; that something about the lack of sleep made her open in a new way, less obstructive to the creative force.2

These ideas give me hope, not because they are necessarily true for me, but because they reframe the writing/motherhood dilemma. Maybe the two are not in conflict after all. In fact, maybe each feeds the other. So far, my experience of parenting has gifted me with a wealth of new material. Mothering has cracked me open in many ways, and the expansion, the new depths of feeling, the survival of heretofore undreamed of challenges, it’s all rich and dense—great compost for writing.

Do you have any unexpected bright sides about parenting or other challenges?

1 Kingsolver wrote one of my favorite books in recent memory, The Lacuna. Yes, that’s right. I’m footnoting a blog entry.

You can listen to the interview with Alexander here:

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