Hard to believe we are halfway through the first month of 2021, and to quote someone on Twitter, I’m starting to believe 2021 is just 3 2020’s in a trench coat. But time is moving forward, as it is supposed to do, at least in the real world.
And in my real world, school starts on Tuesday and structure and routine begin anew. I was trying to decide what Friday’s should be about here at the Story Factory and I think since most factories have some kind of training/professional development, I would review writing craft books here. Being the Enneagram 5 who has to know everything before I start, I do have a bit of a writing book collection.
The first book I ever bought was Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water, but that was 1985ish. I still reread it every spring break so consider this a teaser trailer. The second writing book I ever purchased was in (gasp) 2001.
BIG Purple Mommy is a small, not wildly popular book by Colleen Hubbard. When she wrote the book, she had three young daughters and was trying to be a writer and playwright. The title comes from a time she was waiting in the car for one of her daughters. As she was waiting, comtemplating putting her creative life aside, her daughter jumped in the car with a picture she drew of her mother. A “towering, vivid woman, dressed in purple, standing taller than the trees, arms outstretched toward the sun above. Who’s this? Coleen asked. It’s you, her daughter replied.” Her book deals with balancing a creative life (the professional, getting paid for product kind versus making cute teacher gifts, thought those are nice) with family, home, and other things that pop up on your plate in the young children years. Reclaiming one’s status as vivid, taller than the trees and reaching to the sun. And while just about every working mother has this kind of “split in two” agenda, it was different back in the early 2000’s, when working from home, the gig economy and the internet were the exception and not the rule. Making time to create, be it write, paint, dance, compose, etc, on top of full time parenting, school volunteering, etc was not the first thing you learned after the child birth classes.
So when I read this, the first time, I was a stay at home mom (we lost less money that way) caring for a 7 year old, a five year old and my kind of crazy mother. (She’s a book, not a blog post.) I was trying to be uber volunteer at the elementary school, do church the “right” way, keep a too big house running, and suddenly found myself obsessed with a World War II story that I had to write. One of these things was not urgent, and fell by the wayside more often than not. This book was the thing that helped me realize (remember?) that the most urgent things are not always the most important. And though my mother lived on the other side of my garage and was there to criticize my housekeeping daily, it was okay. Creative work needed time to be nurtured just like children and relationships. Hubbard does include stories from her own life (she was getting a play to a festival while she wrote this) and other women in creative fields and my 2001 self walked away with both practical ideas and inspiration. And a few months later, the first draft of my first novel.