Writers as Mothers

As many of you know, my mother was a writer.
And for those of you who didn’t know, my mother was a writer.
Well, she might still be? I don’t know. We don’t really talk – but that’s a whole other rant.
Anyway, growing up the daughter of a writer came with some interesting perks. For one thing, spelling and grammar always counted. Always. Paper, and more specifically legal pads, were the most important items in the house. It meant reading was a required hobby, a punishment, a time out disciplinary course, a stress management technique, and the only acceptable reason to be up past your bedtime. And it meant endless questions. And what is your new friend’s name? And what is her mother’s name? And what are the names of everyone in your class? And what about on your cross country team? And what’s your coach’s name? And what’s his wife’s name?
It was years before I realized she wasn’t insanely interested in every person who might have contact with me so much as she was hunting for names for characters.
When I was 14 my mother published a story as a contributor in Sword and Sorceress VI. I happened to read an article in which someone interviewed her shortly after its publication, and she said she used to escape from her teenage daughter with her writing in the bathroom. That was it. No prose about how inspired she was or how she hoped her writing might shape my world. She needed to escape from me, so she grabbed her pad and pen and wrote in the bathroom. When asked about it later, the words were never said but I (and others) got the feeling that she felt I held her back… Like had it not been for me she would have been published much earlier and life somehow fulfilled.
Fast forward some thirty-something years, and here I am:
A writer… with a daughter.
Well, let me tell you something. I cannot imagine wanting to escape this little one. Granted, she is not a teenager. But at 15 months old, she can be a handful. And when I write, I think of her:
What will she think when she reads this?
How might this shape her world?
And oh the inspirations I get from this little one.
Of course, we read every day. Legal pads and pens are still some of the most important items in the house (along with thumb drives and voice recorders). And I have a database filled with names just waiting to be drawn up into characters.
Some things never change, I suppose.
I guess when you have a writer for a mother, things can definitely go wrong. The writing can get in the way, and the relationship can be sacrificed for the dream.
I want to be published, I do. But I cannot imagine sacrificing my relationship with my daughter to get there. I like to think that she brings me closer to my dream, not that she stands in the way of it.
So maybe she won’t see having a writer as a mother as such a bad thing.

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