It is not easy for the children of this writer to permit her the private space that she demands for her creativity. They are granted glimpses into this special world that she builds for the purpose of her art, but the views are merely glimpses. They are not the embraces of her focused concentration that have belonged to each of them since birth.
My adult son once remarked in utter amazement that I treat him and his sister “as equals.” Equal, yes. The same, no. They are individual beings in their own right with delightfully unique identities. And, yet, they know that being the child of a writer adds an extra dimension to their lives, their feelings, their aspirations, their hopes and dreams.
Each child has encouraged my artistic endeavours. For me, being a mother is inseparable from being an artist. As such, I have worked with my children, individually and as a unit, and we assist one another in our creative projects. The work has been, and continues to be, fun, informative, productive, sometimes frivolous, sometimes frustrating, and always rewarding, even if the reward requires patience and more time than any of us prefer to devote to a job-well-done.
The work also forms part of being part of Mom’s world. Each child is a distinctive charter member of my Original Fan Club.
Dear Husband says that when I began to write THE DAWN in 2008, I jump-started each member of my family into a new phase of life. And I did, without realizing it. Dear Son entered his engineering profession. Dear Daughter applied greater focus to her university studies. Dear Husband finally garnered much-deserved professional recognition. But when I completed final edits on THE DAWN and looked up from my laptop, I was firmly convinced that everyone else had moved far ahead of me in the arduous achievement of goals. I believed I’d fallen far behind everyone else.
My daughter was the one who very simply explained to me that everyone else was running a sprint but I was in a marathon. They were hiking up a hill while I was climbing a very steep mountain.
She was, of course, correct. Her insights are usually extremely accurate. My son brings me out into the world, but it is my daughter who always returns me to the center of my self. I realized that I had, in fact, lapped everyone else and did not know it!
Each member of my Original Fan Club required time to adjust to the prospect (specter?) of Mom decisively climbing that high mountain (or niveau) that she’d been moving toward since she was a child. For the three years during which I composed THE DAWN, my daughter referred to the book as “It.” Once It was published, however, she heartily became Fan #1. She says that we have both come a long way from those Sierra College/THE DAWN days, and we have done it together. Indeed, we have. We worked, and work, wonderfully as a team to accomplish our separate goals.
Fan #2 needed a longer time to figure out his role in the Original Fan Club. Because I am so good at spotting the obvious, I’d believed for a long time that it was my daughter who felt ambivalent about sharing Mom with the public. Not so. Dear Daughter has in fact been working on selecting makeup, wardrobe, shoes, purses, jewelry, and whatever other accessories I might need (or want) as an Authoress since Dear Daughter was about five years old. It was Dear Son who, upon entering the work world, felt quite uncomfortable about yielding Mom to the inexorable pursuit of her dream.
Part of that dream has involved incorporating my children into my artistic life. The visuals arts and music, especially classical music, my son has long shared with me, somewhat to the exclusion of his sister who finds classical music “depressing.” (And that German lieder! Even worse!)
Both children innately love books, though not all of the authors that Mom admires. Son and Daughter are almost on the same page about the great Victor Hugo. They are literally in contiguous chapters. When I asked Dear Son why Hugo had to use five different words for the term, “hovel,” all of them unfamiliar to me, all of them archaic, he blithely said, “Because he was Victor Hugo.”
Dear Daughter became a bit bored with Hugo waxing poetic about The Abyss. “Just look at that picture of him holding his head: that says it all!”
Writing is an activity that Dear Daughter has yet to truly share one-on-one with her mother. I was granted a copy of her university senior project thesis to read once it was officially published online at her alma mater. I doubt that I will ever see a draft form of anything from Dear Daughter.
She no doubt envisions that red pen lurking, ready to emerge beside her at the kitchen table. I have, however, received through e-mail lengthy paragraphs of delectable information for use in essays whose topics coincide with her Classics scholarship. A most intriguing and helpful circumstance! (One essay shall feature her “notes” un-edited, although I did take the liberty of punctuation and paragraphing.)
As for Dear Son, writing was fine for his mother as long as it was that technical engineering stuff. The tech writing was not something new and scary. That work secured Mom in one or two areas: The Home and, upon occasion, the local Office World beyond The Home. That work tied her (almost with a rope) neatly back to her past, that place in time before Son came along, even before Husband happened into her life.
Back in those days, Tech Writer told the Parson Browns of Civil Design Section A (yes, A, not B or C or D), “If I am going to be stupid enough to marry an engineer, I can find one of my own.” And so I did. Actually, he was an engineering student that Tech Writer enrolled into her employee-placement program.
Tech writing grounded Mom. Flights of fiction, however, that fancy sort of soaring scared Dear Son. He’s a bit like Annabella, the black cat, who likes terra firma. And Dear Son was none too certain that he could share the world of fiction with Mom, even though he was the one to whom she’d given entire scenes in draft to comment upon. Drafts (like mid-terms) were safe. Finals were frightening. Finality was terrifying!
It might have been a college thing that Dear Son had to outgrow. Definitely, it was a conflict or, more precisely, Conflict.
Dear Son had yet to learn that finality is a form of arriving at a new beginning, a lesson that his mother learned, repeatedly and with grievous sorrow, as a child. It did not occur to Dear Mom that there are some people who never do learn that truth about life. When she got the clue, she knew that her job was to wait for the lesson to be over and to not short-circuit the flow of learning to this student of life.
Dear Husband further explained to Mom-Writer that Dear Son is fine with her writing novels, as long as she still bakes the scones and serves the tea alongside them. And then at regular intervals tosses in her phenomenal meat loaf and a baked potato.
Positively medieval! Vaguely (or not so vaguely) I recalled the marked response of young adult Son to my newfound enthusiasm for a certain tv show that involved semi-homemade cooking. Negatively medieval! Son would not even eat the layered custard concoction (which, in all honesty, was not all that good).
Liberated-but-Nonetheless-Claustrophobic-Woman asked Dear Husband “Isn’t it the Husband who is supposed to be the Oppressor, and not the Son?”
That role was just not being filled! Here was a complex entanglement of conflicts that only the highly inventive, highly sensitive son of a novelist could create! (It reminded Novelist of her own self: Why merely have a fear when you can do it in a grand way and have a phobia!)
Life handled the conflicts. Life usually does! Dear Son now plays positive roles in my fiction!
Thus, I came to accept the rather complicated role that Dear Son has attained in my life: “Poor child. He is a creative catalyst for his mother.”
Dear Daughter is absolutely jubilant that her role in the life of Writer-Mom is confined to assisting with wardrobe, hair, makeup, and food, as well as engaging in the lively debate over who is the progenitor of modern literature: the Ancients or the Celts (probably it is both!). She would be wise to consider the fact that her stint in a little ivy college in New England is located amidst my old stomping grounds.
Creative catalysts abound in such situations! I have even received enough photographic snow scenes to commence work on the magic of wondrous winter fiction!