Don’t forget to grab a copy of her nationally best-selling novel, The Art Forger, before we discuss it with our online book club on Friday, February 1st. We’d love you to join us!
Although I always wanted to be a novelist, the practical side of me didn’t believe it would pay the rent — which was true — so I became a sociologist instead. This covered the rent as long as it was low. When the federal government cut grant money for social research, I decided against the academic rat race and morphed myself into a systems analyst, which in turn led to a job managing the Boston office of a software development company. A long way from both sociology and writing, but at least I could afford a larger place to live.
This all worked out just fine. I got married, had a baby, then another. Our house was big and beautiful, and as the commercial for Enjoli perfume proclaimed, “I can put the wash on the line, feed the kids, pass out the kisses, and get to work by nine. I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan… ” I was superwoman. I had it all. Or did I? I was working long hours, travelling and letting other people take care of my children. And I was fast discovering that being superwoman looked a lot better on television than it was in real life. So I quit my job.
After spending a few months at home with an infant and a three-year-old, another harsh truth emerged: I wasn’t cut out to be a stay-at-home mom, either. I loved my babies more than I’d ever loved anything, but it was becoming clear that I would be a better mom if I had more intellectual stimulation — and that they would be better off being cared for by someone with more patience. I had no idea what to do.
My mother and I were having lunch at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston one day, and I was freaking out about what I should do with my life. “If I’m not a stay-at-home mom, and I’m not superwoman, then who am I? ” I whined.
My mother gave me a knowing smile and asked, “If you had one year to live, what would you do? ”
I frowned at her. I wanted answers, not more questions.
She sipped her coffee and looked at the artwork on the restaurant’s walls.
“Fine, ” I said grudgingly. “I guess I’d write a novel and spend time with my children. ”
She raised an eyebrow and took another sip of her coffee.
When I got home, I hired a part-time babysitter, sat down and wrote a novel.