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To Be Creative and A Mother – Part 2

Merrill Joan GerberThis is a photo of Merrill Joan Gerber, a novelist and short story writer, who also teaches fiction writing at Caltech (the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California).

She is another artist featured in the documentary Lost in Living.

See Part 1 of this post for a trailer and more.

Director Mary Trunk comments on the site for the film that Gerber “had over 25 books published, was a former fellow of the Wallace Stegner Writing Workshop at Stanford and was contemplating giving it up altogether.

“Her children had been among her subjects and at times they felt that their privacy had been invaded. She was conflicted between her need to write and her desire to maintain relationships with her daughters.”

Amy Bloom has worked as a psychotherapist, taught at Yale University, and is Wesleyan University’s Writer-in-Residence.

In an interview about being a mother and writer, she commented, “When I started, I wrote late at night, after they were in bed. I could do that and get away with it because I’m not much of a housekeeper and I didn’t need much sleep. I liked my kids and didn’t care much about my house, so it worked.”

But, she admitted, “writing with children present is not productive. They really never go away. My daughter made a sign for my study door that says ‘Come in’ on one side, and on the other side it says: ‘Knock first, then come in.’ That’s a perfect description of me as a writer.”

She also noted, “I’d be in the middle of a sentence and someone needed to go to mall for new shoes, so the sentence would be lost.”

[See list of Amy Bloom books]

Actor, writer, producer Emma Thompson has commented: “I’m very lucky I write as well. I don’t see how I could be as effective a mother as I’d like to be if I had to go away and act all the time.

“So I’ve sort of pulled back from acting, which is fine, because I’ve found over the years – and this was a surprise to me – that I can get the same kind of creative satisfaction from writing as I have heretofore gotten out of acting. It’s very encouraging, really.” []

Quotes are from my post Motherhood and creative work – which is an excerpt from my book Developing Multiple Talents: The personal side of creative expression.

Another actor, Jennifer Connelly, commented on motherhood: “It has changed absolutely everything [being a single mother to her two-and-a-half-year-old son]. I mean, it’s changed my life. I think I’ve changed as a human being more since I’ve had Kai than in any other period in my life. It’s such an incredible catalyst for growth. I found myself questioning absolutely everything: how I spend my time, how I speak, what kind of projects I work on, how I look at the world.” [ 3.21.00]

But some women, including artists, choose not to be a parent, or can’t be.

“I don’t think I was born to be a mother. During those years when my body would have wanted [babies], my mind wasn’t listening. My creativity was so starved… I was very seriously thinking about adopting a Chinese girl. A part of me wanted a love that would be mine and always be there for me. But somehow that just made me psychologically uncomfortable.” Holland Taylor [People 11.29.99]

“I have a very full life and I am very happy with where I am now. I don’t want to change anything. I once wanted to have children and it was not my choice not to have children but it hasn’t broken my heart that I haven’t. I think unless you’re truly whole-heartedly prepared to make a full-time commitment, you have to really think about it. I certainly wouldn’t adopt children just because everybody in show business seems to be doing it.” Anjelica Huston []

From my page Motherhood and creative expression, which has a number of other quotes.

Therapist Belinda Seiger, PhD, LCSW says she has “known many gifted women who seem to possess what I refer to as the ‘rage to achieve.’ They are constantly driven to learn, to create and to be intellectually productive even while raising young children.”

She adds, “What distinguishes these women from their ambitious counterparts is that their motivation is not financial security, accolades or professional visibility; but their love for the process of learning, creating and involvement in a field or arena that holds deep interest and fascination for them.”

From post: Mothers with a rage to achieve.

[Photo from one of her sites: Great Minds Gifted and 2E Counseling & Resource Center.]

Also see post: Artists are Crazy; Mothers Can’t Be Artists, and Other Myths

If you truly want and need to create you will find ways to do so in spite of the demands of your life. But there are helpful perspectives that can help, by other creative people – many of them mothers – throughout my Creative Mind posts, and my site Women and Talent.

Also see the page: Resources for Developing Creativity and Innovation.

Are you a mother and actively involved in some form of creative expression? If so, what are your challenges, and what has helped support your creative passions?


To Be Creative and A Mother – Part 2

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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Some excerpts from The Creative Mind are included in his newsletter .
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2013). To Be Creative and A Mother – Part 2. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Apr 2013
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