Meagan McGovern

“The only things that matter are your time and attention. If I put my time and attention to having a perfect house or to making others approve of me, that’s where my life will be spent. I don’t have any interest in that.”

(March 3, 2021) Meagan McGovern writes fierce, funny, and true stories about the American food system, homeschooling, social justice, and the odd quirks of American life. She lives on a farm teetering on the far edge of the country in Washington state, raising beef, chickens, and children. She recently went viral in braids and a Target prairie dress, but her children, 10, 16 and 20, don’t think it’s nearly as funny as she does. She’s just finished a memoir about growing up on the run with a mother who was a con artist. She describes writer-motherhood in 3 words as: “Everything is copy.”

Meagan McGovern on Medium
Meagan on homeschooling
Meagan’s viral Facebook post
Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder
Violence Against Women Act
Black Lives Matter

sound bites

Every single job that was lost in the pandemic was a woman, and every single mother had to deal with childcare.

If you had said to somebody five years ago, you’re gonna be at the point where Donald Trump is president, you’re fighting over toilet paper in the middle of a plague in the middle of an economic collapse, and there going to be people storming the Capitol … I’ve had enough of the dystopian science fiction novels for one day.

My children are odd birds, all of them. But they’re my odd birds. They’re my little flock, and we do what we do to get through.

I am all over the place. I am out in the garden while I’m also cooking, while I’m also supposed to be writing a book when I’m doing an interview, while I’m also homeschooling. If somebody asks me what I do for a living, I have no idea.

“My kids were challenging, so I stopped working for money and started working for my kids instead.”

I watched my three siblings and took care of them, cooked and cleaned and did all of that and swore I would never have children. I was never going to take care of little kids.

Living with my mother, you never knew which way was up and you didn’t know when you got home if the electricity was going to be on and if you were going to be having a playdate with your friend, or if there was gonna be a moving van in the driveway.

I always wanted to have an adventure. I wanted to do my own life, get away from my family, not be stuck as being identified as the oldest McGovern girl. I wanted to go find myself. I met my husband—sadly and wonderfully, I met my husband—and that was the end of that idea.

“I build all the castles in the air, and my husband runs around under my castles, trying to build foundations.” — @meaganmcgovern

When I met my husband, I said, “It turns out I didn’t want any children, I want your children—you.”

My son was, like, the world’s leading expert on the platypus for seven-year-olds for a long time, and we went to every museum to see every Australian animal we could find, we went to the kangaroo places, we did a marine mammal study because he was into orcas for a while.

I have felt not silenced by Facebook with having more followers, but certainly the depth becomes shallower. I find myself talking about things like gardening and cooking more, which are pretty innocuous topics, but they’re safe and they’re connectable. Gardening is relatable. My politics, maybe not so much.

“Homeschooling is not at home, and it’s not schooling. You are the contractor; you are not the builder. If you consider that an education is a home in the analogy, every child needs something different.” — @meaganmcgovern

“People who think they can’t homeschool think that homeschooling is sitting in front of your kids trying to teach them, and I don’t teach my kids anything. I get out of the way and let them learn what they want to learn.” — @meaganmcgovern

I think school’s old fashioned. School is outdated. The idea that any child can’t choose what they want to learn is horrific to me.

“Homeschooling doesn’t look the same for everybody. If it does, you’re doing it wrong. School is a way to teach 30 kids at once. Homeschooling is customizing an education for each child.” — @meaganmcgovern

Those who are homeschooling during the pandemic don’t get to see homeschooling. They see the worst of it. I like homeschooling when we have park day. In this group that we’re in, we have homeschool skiing, we have homeschool ice skating, homeschool roller skating, park day, archery club, chess club, math club. I ran three different book clubs. We have a homeschool for each group with goats. None of the people who are pandemic homeschooling will ever see the best part.

“There’s nothing wrong with going down 100 different paths to find out what you want to do and follow your passions.” — @meaganmcgovern

You always hear how Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were good friends, and they’d talk about the writing at Oxford and everything, but nobody ever said to them, “When do you feed your kids?” and, “When do you do the cooking and grocery shopping and your laundry?”

“Tolkien had four kids under 10 when he was writing Lord of the Rings, and he didn’t do laundry.” — @meaganmcgovern

“Your life doesn’t have to look like other people’s lives.” — @meaganmcgovern

“The only things that matter are your time and attention. If I put my time and attention to having a perfect house or to making others approve of me, that’s where my life will be spent. I don’t have any interest in that.” — @meaganmcgovern

I don’t have a lot of time for writing, but I do make it a priority. Even if it’s only 30 to 40 minutes of sitting down and fleshing out an idea or working on one chapter, I think it’s worth putting my time and attention into something that has value. Because otherwise, I’m useless. I’m not good to other people. I’m not a good mother, I’m not a good wife, I’m not a good friend. I’m stuck. I am never more miserable and unhappy and grumpy and nasty as somebody who is taking care of others and there’s no light for myself. I would much rather be a happy, easygoing mother with dishes in the sink.

“Just because other people figured out how to use hangers doesn’t mean I’m ever gonna figure it out. I mean, there’s certain things I just don’t want to spend my time doing.” — @meaganmcgovern

Your life doesn’t have to look like anybody else’s, but if you want friends, you kind of have to know what people are gonna think is creepy and off kilter. I do try to do the bare minimum to fit into basic society.

“If Target wants a great outfit to sell instead of the prairie dress, they should sell the Zoom outfit: fancy on top and sweatpants on the bottom with big pockets—stain-proof, wine-proof, coffee-proof.” — @meaganmcgovern

“There are things I’m never gonna do again. I’m never gonna wear high heels. I’m never gonna wear pantyhose. I’m never gonna do false eyelashes. And I’m okay with that. I can live with that as my legacy.” — @meaganmcgovern

Beth Ann Fennelly

Our view of motherhood is still this post-romantic vision of the mom feeling nothing but bliss for her child, completely content in the relationship, desiring nothing more. I think portraying motherhood that way allows new mothers, in particular, to feel like they’re insane.

(February 25, 2021) Beth Ann Fennelly, Poet Laureate of Mississippi, is a 2020 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow and teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Mississippi. She has received grants and awards from the N.E.A., the United States Artists, a Pushcart, and a Fulbright to Brazil, and has published three books of poetry: Open HouseTender Hooks, and Unmentionables, all with W. W. Norton. Beth Ann’s poetry has been in over fifty anthologies, including Best American Poetry and The Penguin Book of the Sonnet, and in textbooks. She is also the author of a book of essays, Great With Child: Letters to a Young Mother. Beth Ann lives with her husband and their three children in Oxford, Mississippi, and describes writer-motherhood in 3 words as, “monstrous, magical, mind-bending.”


Beth Ann Fennelly’s website
Beth Ann’s Books
Beth Ann’s Washington Post article about her mother, “As the pandemic raged, my independent mother’s memory worsened, her isolation increased — and I was far away”
Emily Dickinson, “I’m Nobody! Who Are You?”
Denise Duhamel, “Bulimia”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

sound bites

“I just want to go back to a barter society where if I want a hamburger, I’ll write you a haiku.”

When you’re a writer, you get used to being vulnerable and honest, and I really value honesty. I’m interested in explicating my emotions to try to figure out what the truth is and valuing the truth almost above anything else.

When I was in high school, a Catholic, all-girls boarding school, writing was something you did to be a lady. It was like a finishing school thing. We weren’t exposed to contemporary writing or poetry at all. The only Emily Dickinson poem we read was, “I’m Nobody! Who are you? / Are you – Nobody – too?”

I remember reading a poem by Denise Duhamel about a bulimic woman eating a wedding cake, and it was so shocking to me that there was vomit in a poem. I just couldn’t believe that someone had written something that was so intimate and personal and revealing. It was a door into the path that I was going to follow, where I wasn’t interested in any type of mask. I was interested in figuring out how I feel and how other people feel and what we’re doing here on planet Earth.

I memorize poems and recite them to myself and train my ear through the art of hearing the words coming up my windpipe and out of my mouth. Writing is physical—as physical and rhythmic as dancing. Human beings are rhythmic creatures; our patterns of eating and breathing and sleeping and making love. When we’re writing, we’re putting our bodies back in touch with the old ways, the rhythmic, natural world, and finding pleasure there.

Before I was a mom, when I wanted to write, I had to have my desk clean and my favorite pen and the right mental space. Now, looking back, it was so precious to me. When I became a mom and my time got so attenuated and condensed into these weird little pockets, I would lunge into any opening that presented itself. I didn’t care if my desk was clean. I didn’t even notice.

Motherhood allowed me to focus more quickly because I only had these pockets of time. I didn’t waste time. I was able to get more quickly into the heart of something.

Motherhood made me a deeper human being. I don’t think you have to become a mom to be a deeper human being; there are plenty of people who choose not to, or can’t, become moms. For me, personally, I think it deepens my connection to history, to genealogy, to the future, and to the past, and it made me feel more a part of the world around me. That was ultimately beneficial for my writing.

I’m a research-type person, a Type-A, an A student, so when I got pregnant, I thought, “I want to be really good mom—I want to get an A—so I’ll just study. I’ll read. I’ll approach it like a Ph.D. exam.” I read the books so when my daughter would come, I would have no questions; I would have this nailed. And of course, I was completely unprepared, emotionally and psychologically, for all the shifts that I was going through. I was filled with questions. Writing is the best method of articulating my questions to myself and trying to understand my own emotions. I think it’s hard work to know how you feel in a certain situation. I use words to help me do that work.

I’m trying to explore some of the funnier parts of motherhood, which is not written about all that much, maybe because it’s a private space, but it’s also a sacred space and a romanticized and frequently sentimentalized space, which is dangerous. To sentimentalize something is to simplify it and weaken it. I write about some of the complexity of motherhood, and there’s a lot about it that’s funny, because we’re only allowed to talk about certain parts of it in a way that’s socially acceptable.

It turns out, despite my best intentions, I’m always going to be circling around motherhood but through different genres, approaches, and names.

I wrote this tiny piece about the first day at daycare, when my daughter comes home smelling like another woman’s perfume. I had this sense of betrayal, of jealousy that another woman had held her that close. That’s a crazy, crazy emotion, but it’s also an honest emotion. That’s interesting to me, because it’s not so often represented as a part of motherhood.

Our view of motherhood is still this post-romantic vision of the mom feeling nothing but bliss for her child, completely content in the relationship, desiring nothing more. I think portraying motherhood that way allows new mothers, in particular, to feel like they’re insane.

It has not been portrayed how messy and sometimes painful and crazy breastfeeding is. When you’re in it, there’s so much about it that’s hard and gross and amazingly blissful and mind-blowingly profound. It’s like all the complexity has just been sanded off so that what remains is the woman in the beautiful nightgown holding her sweetly suckling baby, and that’s like 1% of it.

Sometimes women talk about reading my books in the hospital after giving birth, and it’s a cool thought that someone would want my voice with them in that very vulnerable moment.

“We have no ethos that has presented the complexity of motherhood and validated the true emotional and physical difficulty of a lot of it.”

It’s a fascinating, complex mechanism that’s always changing—this growth organism of the family. I think if I got it figured it out, I would stop writing about it. But unfortunately, or fortunately, that will never happen.

When I was in graduate school, everybody was writing about the Greek myths—like, here’s my Perseus poem, as if I care. All the books that were lauded, that giant novel, the Hemingway, Roth/Franzen model, or the novel that’s about war … all the drama that is in those books that people are seeking elsewhere through fighting Odysseus, or whatever, is in motherhood. There’s so much drama in the act of being a mom. It’s all there.

In motherhood, your boundaries are exploded and your capacity for joy is exploding, your capacity for fear is exploding—you’ve never felt such extremes before. I never was someone who yelled until I had my second child. There are new emotions, new actions, not all of which are pretty, new fears—all of the hugeness of this crazy thing that is so everyday, and all around us people are doing it, and yet we somehow aren’t quite aware of how miraculous it is.

My problem is I want to do everything well. I want to be not just a mom but a really good mom, and not just a writer but a really good writer. I want to be really good friend, and I want to be really good teacher. I want to do service work and be a good human being. You can’t be good at everything, but some days, I’m good at one thing and not another. Some days I’m not such a good mom, but I’m a good writer. Other days, I’m really giving it all to my teaching and then I’m exhausted when I come home. I try to keep it in balance in the bigger sense, instead of that micro-sense. I think it’s the No. 1 challenge of writing moms. I think it is the single most essential and unending discussion that we have.

The contract I have with myself is to be at my desk and in the right mental space, which means I cannot have checked email, I cannot have looked at internet banking—all the things that bring people into my life that need things, because if someone needs me, there’s something in me that has to start worrying about that. I just have to go to my desk as close to my dream life as possible. I do think that kind of dreamy headspace helps at the desk. If I’m there, and nothing happens—if I can’t write, that’s fine. I was there. That’s all I asked of myself. I’ll try again the next day.

Spending my time with my family or my writing or my friends or the arts—that’s what’s valuable to me, not a designer handbag. But if you live in a culture that’s always showing you designer handbags, and the only question you’re going to be asked today is “confirm purchase?” or “go to checkout,” you have to struggle to keep your eye on the prize, when the prize is time, beauty, and truth.

I try to keep in mind a statement by Emerson, who said, “Guard well your spare moments, for they’re like uncut diamonds. Spend them and they’re worth will never be known.” So, those moments that we give away, what could we have done with them? What could we have written? What amazing time could we have spent with our family? If we give it all away and use it up, we’ll never know what those moments could have been.

Lori L. Tharps

Your books want all of you, and your kids want all of you. You have to figure it out.

(February 11, 2021) Lori L. Tharps is an author, journalist, educator, podcast host, and popular speaker who is inspired by the collision of culture and color and fueled by creativity and passion. Lori has served as writer and/or editor for magazines, including Glamour, Parents, and Essence, and has written for The New York TimesThe, and The Washington Post, among others. She is the author of the three nonfiction books, Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in AmericaKinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain; and Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America’s Diverse Families and the author of the novel, Substitute Me. Lori has 3 kids and describes motherhood in 3 words as: “inspiring and exhausting.”


Lori L. Tharps’s Website
Lori’s Books
My American Melting Pot, Lori’s Blog & Podcast

This Year You Write Your Novel, Walter Mosley

Black Ice, Lorene Cary

Exile Music, Jennifer Steil

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners, Joanna Ho


Because I come from deadline journalism, I give myself internal deadlines, like, “You have four hours to get this chapter done.”

I credit my children for endless sources of story ideas. Almost every book I’ve written has something to do with my children.

My kids have made me really efficient. I’ve watched people with no kids struggle to get that first book written, and I’m like, “Don’t ever look at me and say you don’t have time. I don’t feel sorry for you. If it’s important, you figure it out.”

If you’re working on a beautiful novel that needs slow work, it’s not the same as turning out nonfiction. There’s kind of a boom, boom, boom, boom, boom rhythm to nonfiction. Fiction is a little more like a slow cooker; you gotta let it marinate, and there’s no way you can speed it up. If you try to speed up a slow cooker, it doesn’t work. You get hard beans, raw meat.

“Fiction is a little more like a slow cooker; you gotta let it marinate. If you try to speed up a slow cooker, you get hard beans, raw meat.”

I credit my mom with making me a writer because when I was eight, she bought me an antique, big box, Remington typewriter. That’s when I fell in love with the idea of being a writer.

My mother was a nurse, a psychotherapist, a cultural anthropology professor—she was always getting new degrees. She had a subscription to Natural History magazine, and she could explain all things through the animal kingdom. My brother and I would ask, like, “Why is it wrong to have sex when you’re young?” and she’d be like, “Well, the badger…” There’s something about a badger having an erection for hours.

Some people would call my mom a liar. She’s not a liar at all; she just exaggerates a lot. She’d tell my siblings and I about a patient who lacerated his liver on the escalator because he didn’t tie his shoes. Now we all tell our kids to tie their shoes, like, “Don’t trip on the escalator, because you could lacerate your liver.”

My mom was busy, highly educated—in the sense that she was always going back to school for something or another—but she was such a good mom. She cooked, she baked, she sewed. She had three of us, and I never felt like my mom’s work was more important to her, even though I know her work was very important. She was saving people’s lives. We knew all her patients’ names. But I felt like she loved us so much. I never, ever felt like we were in the way. As an adult, I realized we were in the way. She could have done a lot more, but she never made us feel like that. I just feel so grateful that she made us a priority, even while she was pursuing her own passions.

You can be a writer and a mother, but to be a really good writer, you don’t want to have kids because you want to be completely consumed. I get completely consumed in my story, and I want to write, and I don’t want to go play in the snow with my daughter. When she asks, I’m like, “Not really, no. I want to finish revising my novel because I’m in it.” But then that means I’m not being a good mom.

Some people say your children want to see you happy. No, they don’t! They want to be happy. That’s bullshit. I think that is the biggest crock of dookie that anybody’s ever told somebody. Children are hardwired to be selfish; they don’t have that altruistic sense, like, “As long as my mom’s happy, I’m fine being ignored.”

They don’t want Mommy to go on this business trip. They want you home. That doesn’t mean that you can’t figure out how to go on the business trip or to the writer’s retreat or whatever you have to do, but don’t fool yourself by thinking your kid wants this for you. “They just they want to see me get the Pulitzer!” Uh-uh. Your books want all of you, and your kids want all of you. You have to figure it out.

“Your books want all of you, and your kids want all of you.”

Maybe your book isn’t as good as it could have been, had you been 100 percent in it all the time. But it’s probably good enough. And kids are super resilient, so if you slip up, it’s probably gonna be okay.

You can train your children that, “When Mommy’s in her writing room, you have to respect that.”

Your books are your children and your children are your children. If you have more than one, then you know that you have to give a Kid A solo time, and you’ve got to give Kid B solo time.

If there’s directions somewhere, my mom could fix a vacuum cleaner—although she did blow hole in the wall once.

My mom knows how to fold sheets perfectly. She knows how to do laundry and get the spots out. I buy my kids all dark blue clothes. That’s my secret tip.

I write because I want to make people feel seen.

One of my sons looks Black and one doesn’t. This is not just “Oh, haha, funny—maybe one needs more sunscreen than the other.” This is, “How do you tell one child that they’re a marked man, and the other one has the freedom and innocence of just being a child?” That’s not insignificant. How I dealt with it was to say both of my children are Black; the pigment in their skin doesn’t designate them as Black, so they both get the quote unquote “talk.” When they were much younger, I wasn’t telling them, “Keep your hands on the steering wheel.” That’s not where they were. I wasn’t willing to say, “You can’t wear hoodies.” I did not want to create a wedge between my sons about who was privileged and who wasn’t. We spent a lot of time normalizing the fact that our family members are all different colors and different hair textures.

The main thing is to make sure that your children feel confident and comfortable in the skin they’re in, because for one reason or another, they’re sure to be confronted about the way they look. If you have instilled in them that they are perfect, that this is the way that God made them, then they’ll be more prepared for whatever comes their way.

One of the psychologists I interviewed for the book used the term was Normalized Difference, like flowers in a garden. There’s roses and daisies and tulips and they’re all different colors, and that’s what makes the garden so beautiful. I find myself using a lot of that kind of phrasing when I talk to my daughter. That’s why we do things like, “You’re the color of a garbanzo, and you’re the color of a toasted almond, and what color do you think I am?” And she’d say “cinnamon-dusted hummus.”

Ann Hood

I made the decision that I wasn’t going to be a parent whose baby dictated their life. I wanted kids to be part of the life I’d built, because I thought I built a really fun, exciting life.

CW: Child loss

(February 2, 2021) Ann Hood is the New York Times best-selling author of 14 novels, 4 memoirs, a short story collection, a 10-book series for middle readers, and 1 young adult novel. Her essays and short stories have appeared in many journals, magazines, and anthologies, including The Paris Review, Ploughshares, and Tin House. She is a regular contributor to the Home Economics column in The New York Times Op-Ed page, and her most recent work is Kitchen Yarns, published with W.W. Norton and Company in early 2019. She is a faculty member in the MFA in Creative Writing program at The New School in New York City and lives in Providence, Rhode Island, with her husband and their children. She describes writer-motherhood in three words as “best thing ever.”


Ann Hood’s website
Ann’s books
Ann’s essay “The Boys of Summer,” NYT
Ann’s Craft Talks

Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference
The Lehman Trilogy
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Raymond Carver
Anne Tyler
The Addams Family
Charles Addams cartoons
The Beatles
The Pushcart Prize
Raising Arizona
Labor Day, edited by Eleanor Henderson
Wanting a Child, edited by Helen Schulman and Jill Bialosky
“Hamlet and His Problems,” T.S. Eliot on objective correlative
Andre Dubus III
Laura Lippman

sound bites

I’ve always loved to travel, so it seemed kind of natural to become a flight attendant. I wanted to be a writer. I thought, well, if I’m a flight attendant, I will surely have adventures that will give me more things to write about.

I loved my 20s. I was the happiest flight attendant. I was writing. I sold my book in my 20s. I just couldn’t see how kids would fit into my life. I had a long-term boyfriend who I adored, and we had this very distant, fuzzy idea of having kids someday, but it wasn’t something we talked about a lot or planned. I never had that biological clock ticking thing. Once I decided to have a baby, then I was all on board, and it wasn’t a hard decision. Once I had one, I wanted, like, five. I just loved it.

Because I was a writer for so long without children, I used to do whatever I wanted when I wanted. If I wanted to stay up all night writing, that was fine. If I wanted to lock myself away for a few days and finish a project, that was fine. If I wanted to drink in the afternoon, that was fine. Anything was fine! And all of a sudden, it’s like, oh my goodness, this is gonna be a challenge.

I had made the decision that I wasn’t going to be a parent whose baby dictated their life. I wanted kids to be part of the life I had built, because I thought I built this really fun, exciting life, and I thought they should fit into it. From the time my son was a baby, I was taking him all over the world with me. I was taking him on book tours. These things have got to coexist. I put him in those little chairs that you can bounce and bounced it with my foot and wrote my novels or essays or whatever I was working on.

“I had made the decision that I wasn’t going to be a parent whose baby dictated their life. I wanted kids to be part of the life I had built, because I thought I built this really fun, exciting life, and I thought they should fit into it.”

When I was in labor, I was judging the Barnes and Noble First Book Award.

I think pretty quickly, once my son was past being a toddler and went off to two hours three times a week to school, I retrained to myself to write when those hours opened up. I think so many women do that. I read an essay by Anne Tyler once in which she said that she would take her kids to school in her pajamas, get them out of the car, and run home to write and then pick them up. You know, all the other moms were like, “Are you still doing that writing thing?” Because she wouldn’t sit around and chat, because she knew she had that many hours. I think a lot of women who are writers and mothers have learned to do that same thing. It’s like nap time–okay I can write. Or a play date, I can write for three hours or whatever.

After Grace died, I didn’t write for about two years. I remember a really wise writer friend of mine said, “Of course you can’t write, because we write to make sense of things, and there is no sense to what happened.” Your mind can’t even try to make sense of it.

I sat down, and I wrote on post-it notes all the facets of grief. Then I looked at them all, and I chose the ones that I thought were the most interesting and created a character to sort of reflect that emotion. I had hope and love and resignation and regret, and then I made up characters to personify those things. And that was The Knitting Circle.

Over the course of writing The Knitting Circle and when it first came out, I would have this idea about grief, as if I figured out one little, tiny piece of it. I’d write an essay about that little, tiny piece.

I’ve had so many people—hundreds, maybe more—say, “You’re expressing what I don’t know how to say,” or “You wrote about something that I couldn’t explain,” or people would say they gave the book to their mother or friend or husband. For me, that made it worthwhile to talk about it, although it’s always hard.

Before I had children, I still wrote about motherhood, I think because I’m so family-oriented, and I came from a big family. The thing that interests me is relationships between mothers and daughters; sisters—I don’t even have a sister, but women. More than love stories, I like the women’s stories. Every time I would write a book, my mother would say to me, “Another bad mother. Everybody’s gonna think I’m the worst mother. I don’t like that.” They’re not bad mothers; they’re flawed. Once I had kids, I’m not sure my writing changed that much, except I was a better writer. I think I could explore things more deeply.

I kind of saw motherhood as a grand adventure, which I think it is. There were times, especially when Sam and Grace were little, when I can remember being in a grocery store, and they were just off the wall, being bad and running. I remember thinking, “No, this isn’t what this is supposed to be. I don’t like this part.” They were pretty much all good kids and did what they were supposed to do and were creative and fun. I had a lot of fun with them, but there were those moments when it was like, this isn’t what I signed up for. But mostly, I just always thought of it as an adventure.

When my kids were little, I would say, “You can’t come in this room for an hour.” I think it gets easier when they’re older.

“When my kids were little, I would say, ‘You can’t come in this room for an hour.'”

By the time I had my first kid, I already had written six books and I had columns in magazines. I was always working. But I have so many women students who feel guilty writing because they don’t think they’ve earned it, because they haven’t published yet. I’ve had women tell me that their husbands have said they could write for one year, and if you don’t finish it or the book doesn’t sell, then it’s not for you. We know that’s not how writing or publishing works. It makes me feel bad that in 2021, women are still feeling guilty about their dream or their work or their passion.

“It makes me feel bad that in 2021, women are still feeling guilty about their dream or their work or their passion.”

From when Sam was quite young, I was always a firm believer in the babysitter. We lived right near Brown University, and they just had a bulletin board with little paper you ripped off. I called up every kid, like, “Come. I need to work.” I think it’s great for your kid to be with a teenager. I would say we’re still very close to probably 60 to 70 percent of those babysitters.

Work—and your passion—don’t always make money. We will not be valued unless we value ourselves and what we’re doing, and I always saw the value in my writing time. I used to take my kids on book tours with me because I wanted them to see what I do. I wanted them to see that people show up. Sometimes there’s 4 people in the room, and sometimes it’s 400 people. I always wanted them to see it.

“Work—and your passion—don’t always make money. We will not be valued unless we value ourselves and what we’re doing. If you see your writing as worthwhile, then it is.”

If you see your writing as worthwhile, then it is.

I think my son completely loves that I’m a writer because it allowed him to pursue acting. I never once said, “You can’t major in theater” or “You’re wasting your time” or “That’s your hobby.” He wanted to be an actor, and I got it, because I’m an artist, too. He was shocked when someone said to him once, “Your mother’s gonna let you major in theater in college?” He couldn’t imagine that someone wouldn’t.

My kids appreciate what I do. I can I hear, when they introduce me to their friends, that they’re proud because they know it’s hard to be a writer, that you sit with nothing and you make something.

“It’s hard to be a writer, that you sit with nothing and you make something.”