It’s Mother’s Day in Australia, but for various geographical reasons we’re celebrating it before and after… so today I’m thinking about my imaginary children instead.
As a writer who is also a mother, one of the hardest things is being sufficiently cruel to the characters in my books. I have to disengage myself not only from the child who is me, but the mother who is also me. I want to love and nurture these imaginary children through the trials I’ve set them. I hate to hurt their feeling by exposing their flaws to the world.
At the moment I’m deeply engrossed in polishing the latest draft (8th or 15th, depending on how I count) of a young novel that will be out in Australia next February. (Maybe: The Girl Who Danced on a Mountain - but I’m unsure, so I’m still just calling it by the character’s name: Raven.) Raven’s life is in turmoil, and not just because she’s physically lost in the wilderness. Raven’s mother Jenny is a lovely, normal woman who adores her daughters – but she has her own life too. After two years of writing, I’m finally recognising that it’s my job to be honest about the hurt Raven feels about some of her mother’s decisions, and her insecurity about whether she is truly loved.
But of course facing truths, and accepting ourselves and others anyway, could be a definition of love, and mothering.
So I’ll go on being grateful for the ease of my own relationships as both daughter and mother, and explore the tougher ones for my fictitious families. And love them all.
Labels: Mother's Day; cruel to characters, writing for children