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].
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 onkeeping 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.”
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
“I started when I was twelve. I got a typewriter for my birthday, and I immediately thought, I’m going to write a novel!”
“The work I do for children is very honest and I tackle difficult subjects–I’ve looked at suicide in a play for teenagers–but I also believe in giving them optimism and hope.”
“My aim in writing [‘Micka’] was to get adults to see how two boys of that age can grow up with no compassion… of course, it’s a lot to do with their upbringing.”
On working with a niche publisher [Grimbold Books]:
“I wanted a new, young publishing house… I found from day one, as soon as Zoë said she liked the book and wanted to publish it, it was a wonderful journey. I felt really taken care of as a writer, because they [Sammy Smith and Zoë Harris] are both writers and they understand the creative process.”
On her writing process:
“Well, you can forget consistency and discipline!”
“Writing is one of the very few things that gets better the older you get.”
You don’t want to miss Frances speaking to us as her alter ego Pan Zador!
If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skulls, then why do we read it? Good God, we also would be happy if we had no books and such books that make us happy we could, if need be, write ourselves. What we must have are those books that come on us like ill fortune, like the death of one we love better than ourselves, like suicide. A book must be an ice axe to break the sea frozen inside us. ~ Franz Kafka, someone “quite mad”
We’re one year old! This show is a retrospective, a chance to talk about all the fun we’ve had and lessons we’ve learned over the last twelve months, as well as an opportunity to update you on the status of our own writing lives. Thank you, podcast listeners, for such a great first year! (26:55)
Where are they now? Catch up with your favorite Postmasters guests here! This is what they’ve been up to since they spoke with us: Courtney Gillette (Writing, Identity & Sexuality) Courtney’s essay “How To Like Girls” (featured in our episode!) was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She was the featured prose writer in Issue 4 of Ardor Literary Magazine, and also served as a judge for the 2014 Lambda Literary Awards.
Zoë Harris (Enterprise, Agency & Making Things Happen) Since speaking with us, Zoë has completed the third book in the Eidolon Cycle, and is almost finished with her first draft of the fourth; she is still looking for a publisher. The membership of the Oslo Writers’ League (OWL)–which Zoë founded in 2012–has tripled in the last year, and published its second anthology, All the Ways Home, in May. And while her typesetting business has really taken off in recent months, the bigger news is that Zoë’s publishing imprint has released two books, including Dollywagglers, a novel by Frances Kay.
Cameron Conaway (Artistic Collaboration & Activism) Cameron has been re-exploring the beautiful campus of Penn State Altoona, the place where, 10 years ago, he first studied the art of poetry. He’ll teach poetry there this Fall.
Boris Fishman (The Replacement Life) Boris’s debut has been the stuff of every writer’s dreams. The Replacement Life was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice! He’s also been interviewed by several prestigious news outlets, and the book continues to be listed over and over as a great summer read.
Coming up… We’ve already got our interviews lined up for the rest of the year. Can you believe it? In August, Stephanie Reents, author of The Kissing List, will sit down to chat about her writing life. Then in September, fellow Lesley University graduate Suzanne Hegland of Essay Therapy will share her experiences as a writer of nonfiction, but also her insights on the college application essay process.
We have to learn to be kind to ourselves. What we’re doing isn’t easy. We have chosen to spend the better part of our lives in solitude, wrestling with our deepest thoughts and obsessions and concerns. We unleash the beast of memory; we peer into Pandora’s box. We do all this in the spirit of faith and exploration, with no guarantee that what we produce will be worthwhile. We don’t call in sick. We don’t take mental health days. We don’t get two weeks paid vacation, or summer Fridays, or holiday weekends. Often, we are out of step with the tempo of those around us. It can feel isolating and weird. And so, when the day turns against us, we might do well to follow the advice of the Buddhist writer Sylvia Boorstein, who talks to herself as if she’s a child she loves very much. Sweetheart, she’ll say. Darling. Honey. That’s all right. There, there. Go take a walk. Take a bath. Take a drive. Bake a cake. Nap a little. You’ll try again tomorrow. ~ Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life
Zoë Harris is a writer, editor and documentation specialist based in Bærum, just outside of Oslo. She studied professional writing and editing in Adelaide, South Australia, while simultaneously developing a career in IT project management. In 2006, Zoë moved to Norway with her Norwegian partner where she now runs her own editing and book formatting business, is co-founder of Grimbold Books – under which she manages the dark fiction imprint, Tenebris Books – and leads the Oslo International Writers’ Group. (28:10)
As well as a number of short stories, Zoë is the author of a dark fantasy series called The Eidolon Cycle, represented by Inklings Literary Agency.