Some of the old saws were there (Adverbs: bad! He said, she said: good!), and while I don't know everything about writing, I know enough to realize that no one should follow any of these rules zealously, because the result would be stiff and artificial. But I found myself feeling, oh, a little guilty of certain writing sins, and then came the anxiety, and then came Richard Ford's Rule #2: Don't have children. ...Read the whole thing. Like Rutkoski, I admit to being both perturbed at Ford's counsel and having tons of difficulty writing after the birth of my adorable, irascible, exhausting and utterly awesome son. "Draining" only begins to describe the process of trying to fill a brand-new person with everything he needs to face the world. And while Ford probably (and perhaps rightly) thought that few can manage both two goals, he seems to have forgotten an axiom that comes to most of us as soon as pick up the pen: Life never wants us to write. Whenever I clear a little space in my mental 40 acres, there are a hundred more productive things I could plant there than a new narrative, a thousand external pests that will eat it if I allow them and ten-thousand doubts crying that the entire effort is foolishness. It's never easy. To write we must write, no matter our circumstances.
Yes, of course, having a baby derails the writing process for some time. And I will be the first to say that I have essentially no social life, because there's just nothing left after being a mom, professor, and writer. I used to be big into rock climbing. No more. A lot falls by the wayside.
But I'd argue that having a child improved my skills as a writer, and I'd be surprised if I were the only one.
(Picture: CC 2009 by Calmtwood)