I’ve just finished reading Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. It was recommended to me by a woman in my writing group because I was looking for a compelling novel with short chapters to read as an example. We writers need models like everyone else! In any case, that part worked well, and I enjoyed the story, whether or not it was a perfectly accurate depiction of Frank Lloyd Wright’s life and loss.
What is staying with me, more than Wright’s larger-than-life personality or his lover Mamah Cheney Borthwick’s intelligent view of the world, is the exploration of social expectations of their era, approximately a hundred years ago. The pressure to conform and live in a certain way, especially as married people, contrasted strongly with my personal freedoms now, especially as a writer.
Yes, there is still censorship, and inequity, and artists generally don’t make enough money as a result of their creative work. But I am not chastised for being a writer and a mother at the same time. In my stories, my characters explore the often un-talked about terrain of parenting and not always loving it. Or of deciding to not have children at all. I can only imagine what I might have had to contend with in the early 1900s.
For me, writing takes time, and perseverance, and many unwashed dishes. To live a creative, untraditional life a hundred years ago took immense bravery and resolve.
On a completely different note, I’d love to hear what others are listening to as they write. The recent PRISM International issue deals with music and asks a few writers for their writing soundtracks. I just discovered the Gryphon Trio, and their album “Constantinople.” Passionate and inspiring to me. I also love an album by Christopher O’Riley, called “True Love Waits,” on which he plays Radiohead songs on solo piano. Other than that, Espace Music on CBC Radio can work, and Ane Brun, and Gotan Project.
What I really love is silence, but I have 4 year old twins living above me, and a husband who’s a musician, and a kid who likes Sponge Bob. And, we’re moving to Montreal soon. Ah, music. My urban saviour.