Mums need medals, right? We certainly think so, and that’s without contemplating another job (on top of the full-time one at home) or a creative pursuit. Our ‘Writer in Residence’ interview in episode 57 of our So you want to be a writer podcast saw writer/mum Allison Tait chat with another writer/mum, Melbourne-based Rachel Power about this very topic.
Rachel’s 2008 book The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood featured conversations with some of Australia’s most prominent writers, artists and musicians about combining the twin passions of art and motherhood. With the original book out of print, Power decided to update the cult favourite, rewriting and releasing the follow up edition, Creativity and Motherhood: The Divided Heart.
On how she gathered her subjects together for her books:
“I think most people are very reachable, especially now with social media. Obviously people with a high public profile, you will have to go via their agents or their manager, but it’s usually pretty easy to find out those details online. You just give it a go – they’ll say ‘yes’ or ‘no’!”
On the challenge of finding time:
“I feel like when you have children, it’s not the having children part in many ways that’s the shock, it’s the workload that comes with it… having the children, not always, but often [is] the lovely part of the whole picture. I mean the housework was just — I was quite overwhelmed by how could you have to do a load of washing every single day or you start drowning?
“And every moment that you give to yourself is basically bought, borrowed or stolen… Kate Kennedy in this edition of the book said something fantastic about how every time she got a chance to write was when she paid for a babysitter or put her child in childcare for a few hours, it was like writing with a taxi sitting outside with its meter running!
“It’s a perfect analogy, that’s how it can feel. It’s very pressurised. Particularly when your baby is very small and you might get an hour, or if you’re lucky two hours to yourself, it’s very hard to justify spending that wrestling with a blank page when you’ve got mountains of washing and dishes in the sink.”
On the inspirational women she interviewed:
“Every single interview that I did I just got a whole new perspective on how to move forward. I think probably the main thing that I’ve learnt that I think is important for all writers is that you have to give yourself permission to create, no one else is going to give that to you, no one is going to hand it to you on a platter, the world won’t give it to you, your kids aren’t going to give it to you. You have to hold tight to your sense that it is a valid thing to do and you give yourself permission to do it. Sometimes that means you have to be very hard on yourself, but you have to do that and you have to be unforgiving about it.
“I think that’s what I saw in meeting with these women, and that can be confronting. People do it in different ways, some of them will literally try to write with their foot on the rocker, whereas some were employing nannies and some have full time partners at home. I mean everyone has very different situations. But, whatever their situations were what I saw is they found a way to give themselves that permission.”