Sunday, May 9

Posted by Laurel Garver on Sunday, May 09, 2010 13 comments
Happy Mother's Day to all moms, and a special reminder to love well your sisters and friends suffering infertility, miscarriage and loss of a child. Today is ten times more painful than any other day of the year to these ladies. Nurture them and let them know how they are mothers of your soul!

Have you ever given thought to your mother's influence on what and how you write? Here's a story I posted last summer reflecting on that. (Another lazy repost?? Um, yeah. *blushes*)

4 August 2009

I had a harrowing night last night when our third floor toilet's water line broke. The problem went unnoticed for about 20 minutes, until the water started raining into the second floor, first floor and basement. The next few hours were eaten up with bailing, mopping, tamping down towels, laundering towels, running fans. Today as I slump around, fatigued and worried a ceiling might still collapse, I can't help but remember what my mother always says about these sorts of disasters: "it will make a good story later."

I think Mom's philosophy on life as narrative has shaped me in ways I'm only beginning to understand. If my life is a story, then it's the messes, mishaps and failures that actually make it interesting. Not that I seek these things out, but when disaster does occur, it carries with it the promise of bringing something ultimately transformative, maybe even redemptive. "It will make a good story later" makes me notice things I otherwise wouldn't, from the shape of stains on the ceiling to the way my husband's shoulders slump as he contemplates them.

Watching Mom over the years ferret away details in the midst of turmoil then transform them into captivating comic stories has been quite an education. Not only have I learned to see the humor potential in all things (and to never take myself too seriously), I've also gained a habit of attentiveness when life goes awry--a valuable skill in any writer's toolbox.

How has your mom's influence shaped your writing? In how you see the world? In your themes? In your characterization?
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  1. My mom is my beta reader for all of my work. She makes sure my characters motivations make sense, and always pushes for a happy ending!

    Because I had such a nice childhood, it does affect my writing. My writing will never be violent or too gritty, but that's okay. You need sweet books out there as well.

  2. My Mom's influence has colored everything that I do, and this is a good thing. I am blessed:)
    Happy Mother's Day!

  3. I think this is great and I'm glad you reran it. I didn't know you when you first posted it. My mom is a storyteller. She's a keeper of family stories, both from her side and my dad's. She somehow remembers how everyone in our farming community is related to one another, where they came from, who spent time away, then came back. It made people and their stories important to me.

    One note, however, my mom is super conservative. I have to turn off her voice in my head when I write, otherwise I'd filter out all the bad stuff.

  4. I'm working on a book full of "it'll make a great story later" moments from my own life. Love it.

    My mom makes me want to give all my characters a good mom, just to ease a bit of the pain I'm about to put them through.

    Thanks for re-posting. :)

  5. My complicated relationship with my mother has reflected most of my writing.

    I like how you begin our post because this isn't a happy day for everyone. For many, it's a painful reminder of lost or disappointing relationships.

  6. What a thoughtful and loving way to begin this post. I have several close friends who want so badly to be mothers and are unable. Even adoption has not worked out for them. There are people who have recently lost their mother, to whom they were very close, and are in pain from their loss.

    While I wasn't mothered well, and my childhood was less than ideal, I do LOVE being a mother, and I adore my mother in I am finally happy to celebrate this special holiday.

    Happy Mother's Day, Laurel! :)

  7. I hadn't thought of sending out love to those women who are trying to have child, or suffered through the loss of a miscarriage. Thank you for this insight. My mother's reading, and her dedication to learning the skills of pottery and rug-hooking have influenced my perserverence.

  8. Aubrie: It's cool that you can trust your mom's instincts about writing. Interesting that you're a writer with a happy childhood. I rarely meet them. Not sure if that says something about the rarity of happy childhoods or the preponderance of broken adults in the arts.

    Karen: Thanks. Same to you!

    Janet: I think of Ron Weasley as a good example of the dynamic you mention. His parents' love make him stronger, don't you think?

  9. I'll be dedicating my first book to my mom. She died when I was twelve, but I think her dying young is what has driven me to write books. Why wait, right?

    And my female protagonists never have supportive mothers. I don't know, but I think it makes them stronger.

  10. Theresa: Every holiday can be difficult for someone out there. And don't you find that the complications and struggles in your relationship have given you insight where others lack it? The strength you've gained can someday help another.

    Lola: I totally feel for your friends. Should they get to a point of feeling content without kids, society won't cut them a break. In my experience, our culture still tends to weigh women's worth in their fertility. You'd think after all these decades of women doing extaordinary things to improve the world, this would change, but at heart it hasn't. You wouldn't believe how rude people are about my having one child.

    Lynn: remembering those on the margins is important on a day when the lack of children or supportive parents can be so painfully apparent.

    Perserverance and artistry--two great things to emulate!

  11. What a lovely post. My mom has influenced my writing in many ways. I think her telling me to keep going no matter what is my motivation. She pushes me to do things she never had the courage to do and I thank her for that.

  12. My mother's logical-artistic musician brain seems to have morphed, in me, into a logical-artistic writer brain. I think I owe her more than I can ever tell.

  13. Christine: family support is invaluable. It's pretty cool your mother sees how much courage it takes to write!

    Simon: I love the idea of giftedness of one generation "mutating" in the next--it's something I explore in my current WIP. Each generation builds on the past and makes the future uniquely their own. We honor our parents most by being our best selves, not their clones.