25. The Parenthood Podcast: The Postmasters Talk Kids & Art & How to Deal

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Lacy attempts to write with a 4-year-old office mate

It’s the parenthood podcast! Art and parenthood. What gets sacrificed? What is more important? How does one feed the other? Lacy (at 37-weeks pregnant) and Audrey (with a 4-month old in her arms) address the way motherhood affects the writing life, both directly and indirectly [25:48].

 

Highlights

Lacy on completing an MFA as the mother of young kids:

“I had a three-year-old and an almost one-year-old… and they were just so much for me to handle… I just knew that if I didn’t do something to make myself write–which, for me, came out as an MFA–that I would go crazy. So, that’s why I did it, for my sanity. It was crazy to try to do an MFA with really young kids, but it would have been crazier not to.”

Audrey on keeping a journal as a brand new mom:

“It’s not even a journal about my days. It’s more like a journal that forces me to write something happy that happened, so that I am aware of that thing, because it’s so much easier to dwell on the bad stuff… I’ve started calling it Dispatches from the Isle of Motherhood.”

Audrey on the necessity of continuing to write:

“Writing is the way I figure things out. I need to write in order to get through [early motherhood] in a healthy manner in my mind, but I don’t always have the time or the energy to do it. And the days when I do get something out on paper are better than the days when I don’t.”

Lacy speaking truth:

“It’s important to be really forgiving of yourself, really generous with yourself.”

Who’s Who

Purity by Jonathan Franzen

Zadie Smith

Ayelet Waldman

Zoë Harris

Barbara Kingsolver

Susanna Hislop

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward

The Dear Sugar Podcast by Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond

Closing Quote

I say this in spite of the fact that children are giant endless suck machines. They don’t give a whit if you need to sleep or eat or pee or get your work done or go out to a party naked and oiled up in a homemade Alice B. Toklas mask. They take everything. They will bring you the furthest edge of your personality and abso-fucking-lutely to your knees. They will also give you everything back. Not just all they take, but many of the things you lost before they came along as well.”
Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

10. The Map vs. The Compass: A Writing Therapy Session w/ Author & Psychologist Susan Schnur

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Susan Schnur has been the senior editor at Lilith Magazine–her “paper pulpit”–for 26 years. Susan has written for the New York Times, Time Magazine, and USA Today. She holds a masters from Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, a rabbinical ordination, and a doctorate in clinical psychology. Her private clinical practice is full of writers and writers’ issues, and this work has inspired her to sit on a number of different panels and teach a variety of seminars designed to support authors in their pursuit of a pure, inspired, creative experience. Today we’ll speak with Susan about the psychology of writing, and she’ll share some basic strategies each of us can employ in our writing lives. Bring on the writing therapy! (29:20)

On the 1200-word essay and the constrained form

“Like a pantoum or anything else length is also a constraint. If you discipline yourself to work within those same boundaries over and over and over you will start to internalize what rhythm is specific to 500 words, 800 words, 1200 words.”

On writing with a partner

“I get people to write in pairs. You are never to study the Talmud alone. The way you do Jewish study is always with a chavrusa, with a partner. It’s always dilectical, really a beautiful thing, back and forth. You’re constantly feeding on each other to get to stuff.”

“When people go to write, they get stuck. They get paralyzed. If [they] can do it verbally, diotically, just talking it out, they have written something without realizing they’ve written it… When it’s a white page, it’s completely unknown and uncontrollable. If you can talk someone through the first paragraph, they can keep going on their own.”

“Get a partner.  This is why people go back for MFAs, so you’re being partnered and writing and being listened to and hearing people. Get a partner, talk through the first paragraph and you’re off and running.” Continue reading