Another way writers resemble mothers

I have, more than once, thought of my novel as my “fourth child.”

I am sorry if that seems irreverent or distasteful to some, and of course I don’t value my writing more than my true children.

The plain truth is I live with the nebulous thing nearly as much as the offspring I can hug, and it’s the best way I’ve yet come up with to categorize it.

But with that parallel in mind– of art being a sort of offspring (and the reverse, also, of children being works of art), I’d love to share this parenthetical comment by Joyce Carol Oates.  I see a direct parallel between it and the conversations I sometimes have with other mothers.

A study should really be done of artists’ private systems, that cluster of stratagems, both voluntary and involuntary, that make daily life navigable.  Here we would find, I think, a bizarre and ingenious assortment of Great Religions in embryo— a system of checks and balances, rewards, and taboos, fastidious as a work of art.  What is your schedule, one writer asks another, never What are the great themes of your books?— for the question is, of course, in code, and really implies Are you perhaps crazier than I– and will you elaborate?

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