After finishing my most recent book, I had to call my mother and warn her that it features a mother she will not like—but that this person has nothing whatsoever to do with her. She laughed and said, “Oh, I know.”
I often write awful mothers. No idea why, because my own mother is and always has been quite devoted. We have our issues—what woman doesn’t have issues with her mother?—but in general, we get along. We like a lot of the same things and will invariably order the same food on a menu. I credit her with my adoration of books and reading and cooking, and she whispered freedom so fiercely in my ear because she was captured early by circumstance and era.
Actually, I know exactly where this comes from. Women without good mothers are extremely vulnerable in the world. Mother issues are all over my books not because of my own mother, but because of her complicated and difficult relationship with her mother, who was the grandmother I adored and adored me back.
See the triangle? How could I not write about that?
I don’t write very often about the act of being a mother, although I am one, and by personality, I’m a Demeter type, a mother to the world, growing plants and giving homes to stray animals and cooking for anyone who needs food. The relationship I have with my children is not troublesome. I have my flaws, but in general, I had the skills and maturity and devotion to raise two decent people. I don’t need to write about that.
What do you need to write about? What core stories are at the center of your work? What themes and ideas do you return to, over and over and over?
What message are you carrying to the world? [Read more…]