Saturday, September 18, 2010

Eula Biss Had a Baby

In days of ignorance, when friends cautioned against the mixing of the writing life with the parenting life, I guffawed. I had a model in my mind of Gina Ochsner, a woman whose situation crossed my path in my first years of graduate school. A mother of three and a writer, Ochsner went to a bar every evening for a few hours to get her writing done, always home in time for baths and bedtime. This sounded like a very good life for me. Plus, she's Catholic, so clearly the heavens were speaking to me.

I have one baby, just the one, and I never write anymore. Glancing over the panels and discussions for this year's Nonfiction Now conference (a conference for - you guessed it - nonfiction writers), I was struck by how far removed I am from the conversations of my field. Here's a panel of note: "Nonfiction: A Hybrid Genre or a Highly Evolved Form?" This will be an excellent panel. I know it to be true because there are awesome people on this panel, including Nicole Walker. I would like to go listen to Nicole and others in my field discuss what we're doing. I want to get excited about it. I want to have written something.

But alas, I have not been getting to the bar in the evenings. At this very moment, I hear my son has woken up and he is playing with blocks. He doesn't know I'm up and writing this blog, but when he finds out, it is all for me here in the subsaharan writing land of bloggerville.

Eula Biss had a baby. She is my hero, writerly speaking. Seriously. She's freaking amazing. Read here for evidence. I am watching her, waiting to see how the baby affects her writing life. This is not to say I am at her level or that the writing I was doing before in either volume or quality was comparable to Biss's. But still, I wonder how this baby will take over the landscape of her life, how it will reach past the very fingertips that once pounded out on a typewriter.

I do note with some satisfaction and consolation that Biss is not on the Nonfiction Now schedule. I shouldn't be satisfied about that, but for the moment, I just need to be.

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