“A friend of mine wrote on Facebook that he was suicidal and thinking about jumping off a bridge. So I poked him.” Tom Rhodes.
This is my way of saying I’m feeling pretty good lately. I’ve been exercising, I’ve been getting out some, and I’m hopeful about the sunny, warm weather promised later this week. If it rains on Easter, I know a meteorologist who will never see Christmas.
In other news, my blog seems to be dying a slow and natural type of death. This is me trying to revive it:
So, Ann Patchett was in town on Friday. Who is Ann Patchett? She’s just about the eighth to tenth greatest American female writer writing today! (If you have not read the novel Bel Canto, please do so yesterday.) I picked up John at work and we ventured to the local community college to hear her speak. I was so excited! I put on lipstick for her.
Ms. Patchett is obviously brilliant. She was funny and thoughtful and seemingly gracious. She name-dropped (I was talking with John Irving…), talked about her hatred of technology (she will never be on Facebook-sigh), and gave us some insight into what it was like to write her most famous novel (that’s an awful day when you kill your characters.)
As I sat listening to her speak, I was pretty sure that Ann was going to by next best friend. It was all so obviously meant to be. I would go up to her and say: Hey… I know a great little bistro. Let’s grab a panini and discuss Thomas Mann.
She would reply: That’d be great! I have such trouble getting people to discuss Thomas Mann with me!
I would say: Why would anyone not want to discuss Thomas Mann?
And she’d say: I know, right? I like you!
This never occurred, mainly because she floored me with her thoughts on a particular subject of interest to me.
I will set the scene for you. A student asked Ms. Patchett what she would have been if she had not been a writer. Ms. Patchett replied that if she could be reincarnated, she would be reincarnated as a woman with eight kids, just to see what that experience would be like. She admitted she has never cared for children.
“I have no interest in children. Not mine, not others,” she said. “Children take up all your time and don’t go away.”
Now, she said this all casually, in a lighthearted manner. She went on to explain that the things she enjoys most, listening to music, reading, and writing, could not be done with a two-year old running around. For her, the choice was obvious: books or children. Since she cared little for children, she chose books.
After she finished speaking on this topic, I turned to John.
“I am floored!” I said. “Simply floored.”
I have no problem with Ann Patchett’s disinterest in childbearing. It doesn’t offend me in the slightest. Two-year olds are noisy. And distracting. And they leave snot all over your cushions.
But I submit that most anything ANY adult enjoys doing best cannot be enjoyed with kids about. If everyone took this into great consideration before acquiring a child, we would have a lot fewer people in the world today.
My problem was her either/or attitude. Instead of saying “children or books” she could have just said, “I just never had an interest in having children.”
Yes, having children makes writing more challenging. When they are awake, I can’t read a page in a book without someone asking me for a cheese stick. (They love cheese sticks.) And no, I can’t run off to the Amazon to research my latest book. I mean, if I had a latest book, which would suggest I had an earlier book, which I don’t. I suppose I’m proving Ms. Patchett’s point here.
I was bewildered by her comments. Her dream was to become a writer. What happens if someone has two dreams, say have children AND be a writer? And what if that person is by nature, quiet? What if her personality is a lot like Ann Patchett’s?
I did a little bit of research. I looked up well-regarded (living) female writers to see how many children they had. Here’s what I found out:
Margaret Atwood-1 daughter
Anne Tyler- 2 daughters
Ann Patchett- 0 children
Anne Lamott- 1 son
Alice Munro- 3 children
Barbara Kingsolver- 2 daughters
Jhumpa Lahiri- 2 daughters
Joyce Carol Oates- 0 children
A.S. Byatt- 4 children
Toni Morrison- 2 kids
Average: 1.5 kids.
My conclusion: If AS Byatt ever comes to town, I’m totally going to hear HER speak.