As a family becomes bigger, family resources become diluted among the increasing number of siblings in the family. Only children get more time, attention, money, and verbal interaction from their parents than do children with siblings. As demographer Judith Blake put it, rather bluntly, families with larger numbers of children tend to dumb down family conversation and activities to suit the youngest children in the family instead of the oldest or the adults, and thus “becomes weighted with infantile minds.”
Because Angelica is an only child our household is geared toward the intellect of adults. This could increase her SAT scores and help her go to a great college and go on to graduate school if she so chooses. Because she is an only child, we have the money to get her Farsi and Russian lessons, as well as music and dance and sign language and really tailor her homeschool experience to her needs and strengths.
Project Talent was a study that tracked 440,000 kids in high schools across the country until they were nearly 30. They tested the subjects for 32 types of intelligence and only children outscored others in 25 tests and equaled others in 4.
The book from which I am drawing this research is called One and Only, and is written by an only child who is also the mother of an only. It is an in depth, fascinating read even if it does have a natural bias.
Judith Blake is cited a lot throughout the book, and sometimes that isn’t a good thing. She tends to take the human factor right out of things. Big families are beautiful, and give you a network of people to love. It is true that a variety of researchers and writers including Dalton Conley have shown a real competitive advantage for only children. But then I look at friends who have 2, 3, 4, and 5 kids or more and see how much love they have and how their kids are never lonely.
Anyway, just doing some research on only children and birth order and finding some interesting facts.
Sometimes I feel confused about my goals. I want to get a book published, or do I? Am I prepared to play the game of submitting to contests at $25 and $30 dollars a pop? Most presses use expensive contests now to publish books.
Maybe it would be best if I tried to get a second chapbook published, and self publish a poetry book. If you self publish you don’t get literary acclaim and you don’t get to experience the purifying process of working with an editor. You do, however, get control of your book and to release your work out into the world without waiting for a middle man that might never come through.
I guess the truth is I hate submitting my work. I don’t mind the rejection letters. I just hate the process of struggling to find a press that even seems like it jives with my work, and then writing a mind numbing letter and inane bio. I know I should do it, but when I get free time I want to write and revise, not search and submit.
Every field has its dues that must be paid, and poetry is no exception to that. But sometimes I wonder about alternative paths, like blogging or self publishing. It doesn’t hurt to try. Or do I need to buckle down and start submitting again?
I want my life to be an example of creativity and beauty to my daughter. Being a mother has completed me in some inexplicable way. It is as though I was born her mother, and Angelica’s birth was just a stage in my life cycle. When she was born it was as if I was a butterfly emerging winged from a snow white cocoon.
Because she completes me, and she widens my world, she has deepened my poetry. Motherhood has also been good for my productivity. It gives me less time to write. That may seem counterintuitive, but it is true. By allowing me less time to write, motherhood makes me focus when I do have time to write. Sometimes having all the time in the world just makes one fritter away time. When you become a mother, you appreciate time. That said, I still need my husband’s support for my writing. He lets me have a wonderful babysitter twice a week and gives me time to myself in the evening to read and write. Reading is the life blood of writing. A mother without any support and many children may find creating great literature next to impossible. Woolf was right when she said a woman needs money and a room of her own to write. But given critical aid, motherhood can enhance poetry.
-Reinvigorates me and gets my creative juices flowing
-Enriches my life and gives me more to write about.
-Makes me make the most of my time. I am super productive because I know how limited my time is.
Before I met my husband I intended to go to an MFA program before starting a family. I thought two to three years with nothing to worry about but writing would be ideal. Now that life has taken me down a different path, I see that for me nothing is further from the truth. Motherhood and the awesome responsibility it entails gives me a purpose, something everyone who wants to write should have. If your whole existence is writing, you may find you have nothing to write about. See the proliferation of novels and short fiction about writers/MFA students by writers/ MFA students.
This is not to denigrate MFA programs, which can be wonderful. I am simply saying that motherhood has in many ways been a rigorous training ground for my poetry, and that the breadth of experience it provides me is nutritional for my fertile mind.
These images come from a series I did. It is photographs of tulle on canvas. I love the way tulle lets you play with color and line. Editing the photos on my phone is satisfying. I create moodscapes out of tulle, glitter, and Swarovski crystal jewels. Soon I will create them out of yarn, pom poms, paint, curling ribbon, tissue, sequins, and other materials. Photographic bright, colorful objects sparks my creativity.
Lately I feel vague, uneasy stirrings inside me of unrealized inspiration. I have not written fresh poetry in weeks. I am going through a dry spell, which is not abnormal but still disconcerting. Writing is usually one of the constants in my life, and this prolonged period of creative silence is disturbing. A writer is someone who writes. I identify as a writer but have not been writing. Something doesn’t add up.
Part of the problem is that I need more poetry to read. Reading stimulates creativity and imagination. To that end I am going to find two or three new poetry books online and order them this week. I have to look online because so much of what they have in the bookstore I have either already read or it is much more mainstream than my taste. There are pretty slim pickings for poetry in most bookstores, at least the book stores around me.
I need to start using Goodreads to help me hunt down good books, too.
If I really want some inspiration, I need to take more of my current poetry and run it through Google translate in Xhosa and Afrikaans. That is an ongoing project of mine, to translate my poems into these two languages and back again to English and then edit and revise my results. I can get some really fascinating results from doing this and I love to play with language. It was inspired by a South African pen pal.
Sometimes I get flashes of imagery in my head or bits of phrases I want to use, but nothing cohesive has come together. Poetry is never far from my thoughts, but I just haven’t given birth to any healthy lines.
Sometimes a little bit of creative silence can be a good thing. It gives you a chance to collect your thoughts, process the world, and provides you time to live life so that you actually have something to say. Writing is an act of communication and rare is the person who truly has something to say 24 hours a day. Sometimes I come away from creative dry spells completely re-energized and ready to tackle lots of interesting imagery and conflicting ideas. Letting my writing brain sleep allows it to awaken refreshed. But this dry spell has gone on too long and I need a sort of bootcamp to get my creative muscles taut and toned again.
To that end I need some sort of discipline and something to ignite my mind. What I will do:
Read read read
Look at images for inspiration
Try handwriting some poems to end this block.
Reread Twyla Tharpe’s book on creativity.
Read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and see if I can pick up anything useful.
Continue to work on waking up earlier so I have more time to write.
Talk to other writers about maybe having a support group.
Use my Mastery app to log time writing poetry.
Be willing to write work that isn’t my best just to get something down on the page. Great artists/writers, like great athletes, need to practice.