Tag Archives: mothering

The Chosen Mum: Coming of Age in Yonderland.

Over at Tor.com, Katherine Addison (the new writing identity of Sarah Monette) discusses the Coming of Age trope, and mentions how often it is assumed that the default hero of such a story will be male – stories traditionally tell us that when girls become women, their “story ends” when they get married, while men get to transition into kings, heroes, magicians, etc. She also notes the general assumption that a Coming of Age story will be about the transition between childhood and adulthood, even though there are other points in people’s lives when a growing up/transition/levelling up story is relevant.

There are some great developments of some of Addison’s ideas in the comments, especially the first one by Dr Cox, which quotes Laura Ingalls Wilder:

Around the time of WWI, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote in Our Darling Daughters that before her marriage, her dreams ended with the marriage and that “when a girl was successfully married there would be nothing in her life afterward worth making a story about” but that “Greatly to my surprise, I found that with my marriage the story had hardly begun and since then I have found life daily more engrossing and worth while as I have watched and experienced the changes in the life and ideas of women” (from A Little House Reader, ed. William Anderson).

This is so completely relevant to the post I’ve been burning to make about the kids fantasy TV series Yonderland, that I knew I had to write it RIGHT NOW OKAY. So here we are.


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How Does She Do It?

I love this picture. It basically sums up everything I’ve ever written about writing/mothering.

I came across an old post of mine, Writing While the House is Messy, and it sparked off a whole lot of recent thoughts I’ve been having about writing and parenting (specifically mothering which carries an emotional baggage and social expectation with it that is particularly weighty).

It’s school holidays, a shorter summer than we’re used to now that Tasmania is finally going to the four terms system. And what I should be doing is what I have done most other holidays, which is relax, read books, enjoy my kids without wanting to strangle them, and not put pressure on myself to MAKE WITH THE WORDS, MADAM.

But no, this summer I am writing. Not one thing, not a big pressing deadline (that’s for next month!) but I decided that I needed to put something on paper this January, to start as I mean to go on for this year. It’s now the 2nd of January, the first day that my honey is back at work leaving me with the two girls, and it’s already been a balancing act.

I always forget about the cleaning. There’s so much more of it in the holidays, because they’re here ALL THE TIME, and plates get dirtier, and clothes tear through the mud, and oh the toys, the toys get everywhere. Shoes are always underfoot, partly because Jem likes to stand in whichever shoes are closest (the more outlandishly big on her tiny feet the better) and tromp them from room to room until she can leave them in the perfect place to be tripped over later.

The detritus of Christmas is still partly with us – not just the tree and many of the more recently unwrapped gifts, but scraps of paper and plastic, stray ribbons and gift bags. Half open packets, and empty stockings. Sure, I could have tidied it all up by now. But frankly, I’ve BEEN tidying it up since December 25th, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any neater.

I swear, the walls pump out glitter and stray hair elastics across the carpet whenever I step into another room.

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Motherhood: the Ultimate Writing Accessory?

The Frisky pointed to an article in the Telegraph by Amanda Craig about Maeve Binchy’s career, and the difference between women writers who are mothers and those who are not.

At first, coming in on a wave of The Frisky’s outrage, I thought it wasn’t as bad as I had expected. After all, it did acknowledge a whole bunch of pros and cons for juggling writing and motherhood, and seemed to be balanced. But the more I read, the less balanced it seemed. Because it’s not as it turns out an article about how women are screwed no matter what they do (though that is the ultimate message). It’s an article about how women writers who are also mothers are simultaneously a suffering underclass, and a tribe representing superiority.

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Mothers and Daughters, Battle-Embroidery and Bears

[Contains many, many spoilers for Disney/Pixar’s Brave]

I took Raeli to see Brave yesterday and was so excited to come and write a detailed post about how seriously this movie takes the job of royal women (both queens and princesses) among the other wonderful things this movie does. It turns out this is exactly what was intended, as I read on Blue Milk today:

“…if you look at real princesses, they were basically working girls. Pampered in their times maybe, but nonetheless, they had a job to do for their kingdoms, whether it be as a diplomat or as a bargaining “tool” to bring kingdoms together in alliance. I think there was little waiting around for true love and eternal happiness in their lives. And back in the days in which the fairy tales of old were written, marriage was one of the most important jobs of a princess. It was part of their job, not simply a romantic notion.”
[Brenda Chapman, one of the original writers on the Brave script, who devised the character of Princess Merida]

Brave is a fun, action-packed movie, and yes, as said in many places elsewhere, it’s a story about a mother-daughter relationship, which is rare in fairy tale movies and adaptions. But what I was most impressed with is that it is not a story about a princess who is totally into cool boy things like bows and arrows and horse-riding, and hates girly things like embroidery, and whose mum is a total drag about wanting her to be ladylike. If it had been that movie, I would not have loved it nearly as much.

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Weekend go Whoosh

The weekend was a blur, roadrunner style. Thank goodness I was caught up with my wordcount so I wasn’t actually trying to write at the same time as juggling the two daughters and their need for snuggles, soccer parenting, the birthday card factory line, actual birthday party attendance involving two year old’s first dip in a pool (only mildly traumatic), the desperate need to catch up on Futurama movies as a family unit, the weekly grocery shop, picking up daughter after Polish dancing and, oh yes, a migraine.

Whereas what I actually wanted to do all weekend was to lie on the library bed and read my new Bernice Summerfield: The Inside Story book constantly. And/or listen to the novelisation of the Dalek Masterplan which I got out from the library in a flurry of Jean Marsh & Peter Purves adoration (their recent audio play The Anachronauts totally did for me, and Jean Marsh’s brilliant audio rendition of the original Upstairs Downstairs novel complete with grumpy Scottish butler impersonation DID NOT HELP).

May is disappearing at a frantic rate. People keep asking what I want for my birthday. More time please, instead of it ribboning out of my fingers and disappearing into the sunset.

June is upon us, and with it comes not only the school holidays (which I rather look forward to these days – my elder daughter is old enough that having her home is marginally more compatible with me getting some writing done than is having to juggle her school & activity routine) but also Continuum travel, and one of my twice-yearly bouts of actual outside-the-house work.

So… the novel writing is likely to slow in the first half of June, which is frustrating as I’m currently on something of a roll. Luckily I have signed up for the Clarion Write-a-thon (proper link to my page here – I think it wasn’t set up yet last time I linked) to get me back on track.

This year’s goal is simply to produce more stuff. Stories, books whatever. Words, Tansy, words!

Today, For International Women’s Day I Shall…

Get my daughter to school, while my partner gets the toddler (she is dressed as Batman) to daycare.

Brief (BRIEF) coffee with mums from school.

Work like the clappers until 2:30, including editing, cleaning house, more editing, and some other writing-related admin jobs.

Pick up daughter from school, take for eye test.

Early tea with children.

Attend discussion panel at Fullers Bookshop on topic of Int. Women’s Day and Stella Prize.

Get home in enough time to put (hopefully only one) daughter to bed.

Record an episode of Galactic Suburbia.

That’s enough to be going on with, right?

NOTE: I typed this while listening to my 7 year old listing all the superpowers she has when she plays heroes in the playground.

Ready… set… GO!

Mothering, Writing, Pilating, Guilt

I finished my short story! It feels like a big achievement, the first thing finished of the year. This is going to be my year of finishing things, and rewriting things, and submitting things. Many things. For the first time in a while, I don’t have a contract or official deadlines which means I have to MAKE MY OWN.

Today is Pilates Day, an activity I took up when Justine Larbalestier started evangelising about how important it was for writers to start that kind of stuff BEFORE developing RSI or some other work related injury. When I started, it was amazing how many people were there to fix something awful they had done to their bodies. I would feel a bit abashed about being there pre-emptively, but it seems the thing to do.

Pilates is one of those things I had to circumvent a lot of guilt to allow myself to do – because it’s something that’s about ME and not the family. Especially when I was using household money to pay my way – but since our last big budget rehaul, I’ve been paying for it myself and buying less things on the internet in order to do so, which means I feel less like I have to justify This Thing.

(I know, by the way, that I shouldn’t have to justify it, and what’s good for me is good for the family and so on, but logic is logic and guilt is guilt)

Managing guilt is a huge aspect to being a working mother. Or a mother full stop, I guess. (it’s also one of the hardest aspects to reconcile with being a feminist – what works in theory often falls down in practice, and when the baby’s screaming, theory doesn’t help much!) I find it interesting when talking to other mothers that we all have different lines of guilt, those which we cross regularly and feel bad about, those which we try not to cross and feel AWFUL about, and those which we are okay with.

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On my iPod: Science Fiction Podcasty Goodness

The Coode Street podcast invite on special guest Ursula Le Guin to discuss the good, the bad and the “oh no she didn’t” contained within the pages of Margaret Atwood’s recent collection of essays about science fiction In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (2011). It’s especially interesting because Le Guin not only considers herself a friend of Atwood, but is often a subject in the essays themselves – but she pulls no punches when it comes to casting a critical eye over the book – and, with equal sharpness, the fans who have contributed to Atwood’s often misguided image of what SF readers are like. If there was a literary canon of SF-themed podcasts, this one would have to be pretty high on the list.

I also very much enjoyed the latest, 12th episode of The Outer Alliance podcast – these have been going from strength to strength with some wonderful interviews (and I’m not just saying that because they namecheck Galactic Suburbia!) and the latest one has host Julia Rios discussing all manner of gleeful and squeeful things with Lynne M Thomas – Hugo-award winning co-editor of Chicks Dig Time Lords, co-editor also of Whedonistas and the upcoming Chicks Dig Comics, incoming editor of Apex Magazine, podcaster of the SF Squeecast, archivist extraordinaire, etc. Oh yes, and she’s my fellow Tiptree juror this year too! Getting a chance to eavesdrop on the conversation between these two bouncy, enthusiastic and smart women was a great pleasure today, and they cover all kinds of issues, from behind the scenes podcasting gossip to third wave feminism, and how talking about shoes can be a subversive act.

I checked on a new discovery, the Anomaly podcast this week, with mixed results. I had been linked to their special two part Women of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Fandom episode, and found that inspiring and illuminating in some places, and deeply irritating in others. I liked that it was a group of women discussing their interests in SF, fandom, etc. and tackling questions like who writes strong female authors best, and whether ‘slave Leia’ costumes are problematic or empowering.

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Friday Links is a Feminist Country

I found this article about what a (mostly) feminist society that actually exists in the world today really inspiring. I have no idea how to get there from here but oh, I do hope Australia can be Iceland when it grows up! Their social attitudes to female politicians, childcare and the work/life balance make me ridiculously happy.

Meanwhile Bitch Magazine is doing a new blog series which looks at the portrayal of pregnancy, childbirth and early childhood/parenthood in TVland. I have Strong Opinions on this topic, so looking forward to reading what they have to say.

Tehani posted this link about which comic book superheroines deserve their own movies. Which is all very well, but let’s face it, Hollywood has badly let down the female superhero (and not the other way around). I can’t help thinking their stories would be better served by taking visuals out of the equation and going straight to the novel.

So if anyone wants to hire me to write a Huntress novel, I’m available! Or Wonder Woman, come to that…

Gail Simone tweeted this article which looks at two different kinds of representation of race in current DC Comics, comparing the Static Shock approach (he just happens to be black, yanno) with the Firestom approach (actual discussion of racial issues in the text). It’s a thoughtful piece, and I think demonstrates that both approaches have value, and it’s important to have both kinds of representation of race in stories – if all stories with characters of colour were about race, or all stories with characters of colour were NOT about race, we would have a real problem.

I do love it when people point out that these things are not either/or!

Jo Anderton, whose debut novel Debris (Angry Robot) I loved when she sent it to me for blurbage (it’s about magical architects! and magical garbage collectors! And it has technology mixed in with magic, plus a professional heroine who is flawed and cranky and acquires a TEAM, and has sex without it having to be her true love!) has done an interview over at Rowena’s blog.

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How My Six Year Old Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Doctor Who (thanks to the Ood Cast)

For a while there, I lost the ability to watch Doctor Who with my daughter.

When Raeli was tiny, Doctor Who was as familiar to her as the Wiggles. I often joked that the music she had heard most often in the womb was the classic theme tune – because when I was pregnant, the ABC were still on their ‘repeat all the classic eps in proper order’ kick. She was born early in 2005, a date forever associated (for some of us) with the launch of New Who.

When she was 2-3, Raeli adored Doctor Who, as did her friend Inigo, a year older – they were familiar enough with the show that when his mum and I discussed how to break it to the kids that Greg was leaving the Wiggles, the Doctor’s tendency to regenerate seemed like the easiest metaphor to grab! Our Christmas tradition was making gingerbread or shortbread daleks.

But while Inigo and his brothers stayed true to their Doctor Who obsession (if sometimes only peeking at it behind fingers) Raeli pulled away from it as she got older, as she found it quite scary and had developed a deep horror of Daleks as well as many other monsters. I couldn’t even show her The Sarah Jane Adventures because even her fear of Daleks was nothing to the shrieking meltdowns we had to deal with if she even caught sight of a picture of a Sontaran (AKA “the Humpty Dumpty men!”). K9 had worked for a while, but it was a pale imitation of the real thing, and she only remembered the show when I pushed it on her, though she and the boys did enjoy drawing multiple versions of K9.

By the time the Matt Smith era came along, Raeli was steadfast in her commitment to quite liking Doctor Who as long as she never ever EVER had to watch it. The only episode of the whole season she watched live was The Hungry Earth, because she was staying at Glammer’s house and anything Glammer likes is automatically awesome. It had scared her enough, however, that she absolutely refused to watch part 2, though she did ask me quietly for a summary as to how it ended. I seem to recall that in true parental cop-out style my version went something like “and then it all ended happily and they said goodbye and nothing bad at all happened, especially to Rory.”

That was when she was five.

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