(October 15, 2020) Amy Shearn is the author of the novels Unseen City, The Mermaid of Brooklyn, and How Far Is the Ocean From Here. She is a senior editor at Forge and a fiction editor at Joyland, and her work has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Literary Hub, and many other publications. Amy has an MFA from the University of Minnesota, and lives in Brooklyn with her two children.
FROM THE EPISODE: READING LIST & REFERENCES
Forge, Medium’s publication on personal development
Amy’s feature on stoicism: Forge, “What Happens When You Go Full Stoic”
Norma Jean the Termite Queen, Sheila Ballantyne (Doubleday & Company, 1975)
The Barter, Siobhan Adcock (Penguin Random House, 2014)
The Days of Abandonment, Elena Ferrante (Europa Editions, 2005)
Forty Rooms, Olga Grushin (Penguin Random House, 2016)
100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write, Sarah Ruhl (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015)
Lenka Clayton’s Artist Residency in Motherhood
The Resort: A workspace outside the home with virtual monthly memberships, craft talks, and accountability groups
The practice of giving up what you can’t control is so useful in this time when there’s so much that’s crazy and stressful that I am not in control of, as powerful as I am.
I’m aware of how much my daughter is watching me, and I think about the kind of woman and mother I want her to be—or feel like she has to be. I would never want her to grow up and think, “Oh my God, I have to do everything perfectly.”
So much of being creative is giving up control and letting in a little bit of wildness.
If you’re going to have kids, sit down with your partner and have a real conversation. Tell them, “I am going to need this much time to work on my writing. When are we going to make that happen?”
Something I think is hard about writing as a mother is that your goal as a mother is to make things pleasant and take care of people—but in writing, it’s much better if you’re not trying to be pleasant. You’re trying to be as honest and real as possible.
People think your main character is you, no matter what. It’s insulting because there’s a subtext of, “How could a woman really create something from scratch? Obviously, she’s just writing about herself.”
There’s amazing intimacy in the relationship between the writer and the reader who never meet each other. It’s almost otherworldly.
There’s such dissonance in the way many of us live so disconnected from our mammal selves. I was working at an office, not seeing sunlight or breathing air—and also growing a person in my guts. That’s bananas.
We’re in a moment where historic numbers of women are dropping out of the workplace. The husband’s career is being prioritized, and that’s not a failing on the part of women; the system has failed.
Life is not interrupting the work; life is the work.