Elizabeth Gould ~
If you consider yourself a mother* and a writer, then I believe you are also a master of invention. Carving out time to pursue our craft amidst the fullness of life requires determination, ingenuity, and flexibility. In my experience, honoring personal commitments and responsibilities while feeding my soul through writing is a version of the quest for the Holy Grail.
I’ve been a journal-keeper since I was old enough to hold a pencil, so writing is (mostly) a pleasurable activity for me. When I was immersed in the “chop wood, carry water” routines of raising a family, my writing practice gave me a lifeline to my creative impulses. It deeply nourished my soul to write stories about a woman who tapped into the archetypal feminine energies within her in order to create a meaningful, authentic life for herself.
The writing project appeased my need for self-expression and gave me a chance to reflect upon what it means to be a woman in modern society. The magical realism component of the stories allowed me to reimagine the narratives I told myself and encouraged me to spin gold out of the straw of my life experience. Connecting with goddesses and mythological characters made it possible for me to inhabit deeper, more powerful storylines. The Well of Truth: Stories of Spirit grew out of the fertile soil of this exploration.
When I first embarked on this project, I mapped out my technical goals: timelines, storyline arcs, and word count goals. Although this strategy helped form a container around my vision, it also created the conditions of a pressure cooker that set me up to strive for unrealistic expectations. I was unprepared when the floodgates of my imagination opened, and the inspirations came pouring forth, fast and furious. Because ideas usually came when I was not at my writing desk, I scribbled notes on anything I could find: the backs of envelopes, napkins, and, when necessary, on my hand. I quickly learned to carry a notebook and a pen with me everywhere I went.
Since my days were punctuated by the rhythms of my children and the necessities of family life, it wasn’t easy finding the time to dedicate to my writing project. I fantasized about locking myself in my room all day, which wasn’t a viable option for me. At the end of the day, I had to wrestle with how to attend to my creative work and manage my role as a mother.
After researching other writers’ methods, I concluded that the only option was to roll up my sleeves and apply some old-school discipline. I started getting up at 4 a.m. to write for a few hours before I had to get the children ready for school. At first, it felt deliriously virtuous and productive to work away in the dead of night; it was exciting to write by candlelight when the rest of the world slept. Though I was buzzing with energy by the time the dawn chorus of birds heralded a new day, I was exhausted after a few weeks of this routine. After falling asleep in my dinner plate one night, I acknowledged that I needed a different strategy to feed my desire to write.
At this juncture, I consciously chose not to criticize myself for my inability to “do it all.” Instead, I let go of my attachment to any finished product and focused on the joy that writing gave me. I realized that being kind to myself and celebrating my love for writing was more important than anything else.
With this inner shift, I suddenly had spaciousness in my practice, with plenty of room for magic to appear. With this newfound freedom, I could let the process unfold organically. As every mother knows, gestation takes as long as it takes!
I came up with lifestyle hacks (think carpools, crock pots, and speed cleaning sessions) that allowed me to continue writing without completely upending my life. And when I was not able to sit at my desk, I was fully prepared and willing to write in the waiting room at the dentist’s office or the school parking lot. Much like the changing of the seasons, my creative impulses ebbed and flowed over time. Sometimes I was on fire with inspiration, while other times, I didn’t have much to say. When life went sideways, as it sometimes did, I learned that it was not the end of the world if I had to take a break. Besides, whether or not I was writing, the stories continued to steep in my soul and inform my dreams.
Spending time in the natural world was an excellent way to integrate the stories because it put me in tune with my feminine essence and connected me to my deeper purpose. I discovered that “the work” is more about trusting the cyclical patterns of life than it is about reaching writing goals.
My advice to all of you brave bards and purveyors of word magic is to take heart! As masterful mothers of invention, you must stay tuned to your passion and trust the process wherever it leads you.
Be kind to yourself and know when the timing is right, the world will be waiting to hear your voice.
* According to Katy H. Harrison at Undefining Motherhood, a mother is anyone who provides care to the world. Or anyone who considers herself one even if they don’t meet the typical social definition.
Elizabeth Gould received a BA in Art History from Stanford University, and worked in the Old Masters art world in New York City for several years. After obtaining an MS in Education from S.U.N.Y., she became a rites of passage educator for girls and women, and the director of a non-profit committed to positive menstrual/menopausal education and awareness. The themes in The Well of Truth grew organically out of her two decades of experience as a mother, teacher, and menstrual activist as well as her love of mythology, goddess traditions, and the moon. Devoted to finding the magic and beauty hidden in daily life, she is thrilled to be part of the rising chorus of voices reclaiming and celebrating the wisdom of the Feminine. Although she is an inveterate traveller, Elizabeth feels most at home in Aotearoa, NZ. The Well of Truth is her first book.
Learn more about Elizabeth at her website, https://www.elizabethagouldstories.com.