Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Writer's Lonely Life

Accept it.  Writing is a lonely life.  It is especially lonely for women who never  express themselves.

My mother's  generation did not analyze their lives.  It makes sense when you think about it. What was the use of self-reflection? It wouldn't change the outcome. They would remain voiceless. 

Now that I have finished my new book and written about my mother, I feel the loneliness creep in.  I should feel happy that I have finally expressed a wide range of emotions about her and put it on the written page.   

Instead, I feel sad that she never had the chance to do what I do which is delve into the intensity of emotions.  Not that my mother was a writer, although who knows what she might have become if she had escaped the lonely life of the 1950s suburban housewife, tending her tomato and zinnia plants, drinking one too many cocktails at the end of the day . . . being diminished by a society that ridicules and pillories outspoken women.

I stumbled upon an old photograph of Gertrude - "Trudy" as friends called her - studying herself in the mirror.  Her brother was a photographer and I am sure he put her up to to the pose, but still I was arrested.  What were her thoughts as her reflection stared back?  I sense if I had found it before she died, she would have looked at it and said, "Milton was a wonderful photographer."  I would have asked again, "I know, Mom.  Your brother was great.  But you, Mom, what were you thinking?"  Her huge brown eyes would have looked into mine. "Oh Susie, I have absolutely no recollection.  That was so long ago!"

Who was my mother and how am I like her?  For years I tried to dismiss any similarities between us.  How foolish.  Now that I have finished this book, I tell myself to let it ride for awhile - get some space, some breathing room from what I have written. I  pray for inner peace - for her and for me.

The reason I love the Women's Writing Circle is that it eases the loneliness of the writer's life.  Although it doesn't change the fact that writing a book is a journey we do alone, it is wonderful to have a community of women supporting each other.  Our next read-around is Saturday, April 14 from 9-11:30 a.m. at Wellington Square Bookshop in Exton, PA.  What will you bring to the Circle? Will it be a story about your mother? Will it be a piece of writing that has driven you to speak out?

Today a woman thanked me for giving her the courage to write her memoir; but, no, I said.  You have to understand - it is a two-way street.  You have given me the courage. 


Unknown said...

Susan, I found your site via LinkedIn. What a wonderful tribute to a Mother is the immortalizing of her memory via the written word for the world to see and minds to explore! So many doors may be opened because of such heart rendering memoirs. Fortunately for me, I was able to complete my book of poetry the year before she passed away. It is titled Remembering - My Hand in Yours, Your Hand in Mind. It begins 'Way Back When" the family tree's silhouette began at sunrise and ended at sunset. Then, of course, ends at a time when I wished her hand in mine would never be surrendered. That time came as I sat beside her bed holding her hand until she rested in peace at the age of 91. Blessings to you for courage in opening your heart and mind as you share her story.

Susan G. Weidener said...


What a lovely title for your book.

Many of the women who come to the Circle write about their mothers. As one woman said, the physical connection and very often similar appearance, makes losing a mother hard at any age because it is almost like a loss of our own identity.

Thank you for sharing your own experience with your mother.