Wednesday, October 24, 2007



I had the chance to spend Monday night with three other writers/women/mothers. We've had every level of "success" with our writing, starting with me (zero) to a NYT bestselling author, and two inbetween. The conversation started there, the pros and cons of "success" and the many ways society defines "success" and what's the big deal with it, anyway? My head was left spinning. What do I want for my writing? Publication? Any publication? Giant publication? Will I be happy with anything "less" than a spot on Oprah's overrated (I hear) couch? If I knew right now that not a word I type will ever make it past the wonderful audience of this blog, would that stop me? Do I write for myself or for others? Do I write to sort my own thoughts, process my own story, and inevitably, better myself as a person? I say I do! Then, why isn't that "enough?" Why do I burn with desire to be published - mainstream America, see myself on a poster at Barnes & Noble, the whole nine-yards? Is that just ego? Don't I think that being driven by the ego is TFBS? I'm so confused.

From publishing our conversation turned to motherhood. We all have two children, a boy and a girl. We came into motherhood for different reasons, just like we came into writing. We've had varying degrees of "success" with our motherhood. We've "enjoyed" motherhood very differently, yet love our kids beyond words, beyond anything. And the question of why do we become mothers came up for me. Do we do it for ourselves of for our kids? Do we want to mother because of all we have to give, or all we hope to get from the experience?

When I was young and motherhood bound, people tried to warn me, "It's the hardest thing you'll ever do!" "You'll lose your life to your kids, you won't get it back until they leave the nest." Nothing deterred me. I wanted motherhood despite all warnings of its impending peril.

That's just how I feel about publication, too. I'm sure it has impending peril. I'm sure I'll become owned by my writing, lose my life to it, wish for things to be as "easy" as they were before. But that won't stop me. Like motherhood, I would not be even close to the person I am today without having gone on that journey.

Save me a seat, Oprah, I'm coming to see you soon.

12 comments:

Lee Wolfe Blum said...

ahhh again...you are in my mind. Same thoughts I am having right now. My issue is that ...if I am not "published" the family will see my memoir as pure self-pity. Somehow publication means it is real to them and well even to me. It is a struggle I am grappling with at this very moment!
Thanks for the thoughts and questions. Good stuff to think about.
Lee

Michelle O'Neil said...

I know you will Carrie!

La La said...

Nicely put! Most things that are life changing in a GROWING/STRETCHING WAY are filled with the "bewares!" GLAD that isn't stopping you (hasn't stopped you). I'll be first in line at the bookstore when your book goes on sale, and then I will record the Oprah episode, so I can watch it whenever I want and show it to my friends and say, "I KNOW HER!"

Jess said...

Yes, thanks for sharing this. Good questions about both writing and parenting... Sometimes I think we need to do what we are pulled to do, even before we fully understand why. But asking the questions is important.

Rock on. :)

Nancy said...

I have posted that if I am never published, it will be enough to have shared in the blogosphere... Ok, not so sure about that. But I also fear that ego drives that need. I never hesitated motherhood, but I'm terrified of pursuing publication. You, my dear, have no worries. I was going to be first in line for your book, but lala beat me there. I guess I'll be second.

jennifer said...

Ten years ago teacher once told me that the best we can hope for is the "joy of writing" and that's all. I vehemently disagreed, because at the time I had a profound passion to be published. But I was not aware of what drove that passion.

Later, I realized that I wanted publication because I wanted to value myself via being valued by others (ie: the publisher, readers, an agent) and financial freedom. I thought I was powerless because I didn’t earn the same amount of money my partner earned and thus thought making a publication deal would put me in a place of having more finances, translation, power. The problem though was not the money or being published or even the prestige, the problem was my perception of myself as powerless, trapped and of no value. Writing wrote me out of those perceptions. That is why I wrote and still write and teach writing.

It is not that rewarding to be successful. But each of us has to go there to know for themselves. I can talk until I am blue in the face but my experience remains my experience. Your experience will be your experience. Keep going, if that is what you are driven to do and trust that drive. In the end, something will come of all that effort!

Julie Christine said...

You have inspiring words to share with the world and an impulse to share them. Great that you are choosing this route, rocky or not, as it seems to be your destiny...

Anonymous said...

Why Oprah and not Terry Gross. If Oprah the next stop is Costco. If Terry Gross maybe the next stop could be Stephen Colbert.
Carefu what you sish for.........Tom Cruise and the yellow f***** couch.
Come on, Carrie turn the compass.

Kim said...

I adore the passion and energy with which you approach everything you do.

I do have my issues with the publishing industry, but all I know is this: the world would be SO F'IN LUCKY to have your book in bookstores. And we all know you could teach Oprah a thing or two!

Go Mama said...

All great questions, Carrie. Questions to revisit time and time again, and as you go forward, your answers may or may not change too. It's about the journey, not the destination, and as we grow and reflect, observe and question, even refine our direction, all of it deepens our journey...seat or no yellow seat.

Maybe the lure of the seat will be what pulls you through the hard times to continue toward your goals.

Either way, I say, Carry On!

Deb said...

Wonderful reflecting here, Carrie. I can so relate. I believe the desire is not accidental and that you can't go wrong by pursuing it. I look forward to reading about Pearls and anything else you have to share.

Terry Whitaker said...

So much honesty; as usual. You'll do what you were meant to do.