Anyway, in the interview she talked about her time in grad school and what it's like to be a parent and a writer.
Here's the quote that struck me and that I've been meaning to post for weeks:
"The most challenging thing was balancing my home life. My eldest son (seven at the time) experienced difficulties at school, meaning he wanted to quit school entirely. I remember he said, 'I wish you were a waitress again. I liked that better.' And I explained that when I was a waitress, I had been away from home more hours, because of my work schedule. But I knew my son was right, that even when I was home, I wasn’t home. I was constantly writing in my head. I even dreamed sentences. I remember sitting in on my son's first grade class, trying to assess what was going on with him in the classroom. I had a story due for workshop, so I was sitting in one of those little plastic chairs, hunched over, working on my computer, writing."
...even when I was home, I wasn't home. I was constantly writing in my head.
This is what really hit me. Because this is me. Because this is what I constantly worry about. The phrase I use is "perpetually distracted." That's how I feel sometimes -- distracted and distant -- and I think my wife would agree.
If I'm not writing/revising in my head or thinking about writing, I'm thinking about the fact that I'm not writing. Or I'm thinking where I should submit a story. Or which story I should work on next. But if I'm working on a story that means I'm not working on the novel. But maybe I should be working on that memoir I started. And on and on.
Writing is the last thing I think about when I go to bed. And it's often the first thing I think about when I wake up. If I don't write for a long period of time, I get cranky. I start to feel that I'm lost, adrift; that I won't be able to get back to where I was.
The fear I have, then, is that I'm not fully present for my family. They're not getting all of me. And I'm not fully allowing myself to be in the moment with them. On one level, I am always elsewhere. In writing la-la land. Perpetually distracted. Thinking of characters. Thinking of sentences. And it's not fair to my children. And it's not fair to my wife. I have no resolution here. I wish I did. All I know is that I need to find a better way to balance my life as a writer and as a parent/husband.
You can read the rest of the Victoria Patterson interview here.
And a while back, Pank posted some great essays about motherhood/fatherhood and writing. The motherhood essays feature Ethel Rohan, Angi Becker Stevens and Teresa Houle. The fatherhood essays feature David Erlewine and Ryan Bradley.