Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Real Life Transforms Art

It's early for Mother's Day celebrations, but the holiday has me thinking of how many heroines I write as mothers. I've studied how that role influences their lives, and how my mom, my mother-in-law, and being a mother myself has changed my writing.

I know it has. Being a mom has made me a better person all-around, so I know I'm more sensitive, patient, and understanding. (You should have seen me before kids!) That's reflected in my heroines. They deal with life with a sense of humor, probably because I do. They delight in their children because I delight in mine. They are protective while seeing their kids' flaws. I'd say ditto, except my kids don't have flaws. [See previous note about a sense of humor getting one through life.]

When I look at my mom and mother-in-law, even my friends, family or strangers, and observe how they mother their children, I learn. Note I use "mother" as a verb. It is. "Parent" is also. I don't mean either word to substitute for "discipline," although that's part of it. A huge part. But again, I don't use discipline to mean "punish." It means teach, control. That's what parents do. Or should. I'm not getting into that here. I reveal my frustrations in my work. The next time some minor character is a horrible parent, I'm drawing on real-life observations. The kid who badgers his mom about buying him a sucker, despite her constant no, no, no answers--then gets the sucker when she's worn down? Yeah, he's in my book. He probably will grow up to be the villain. Or have a kid like that of his own.

 Back to the good moms.  They're not perfect, not in real life and not in my fiction. But they try their best and love with boundless depths of feeling. Self-sacrifice, not martyrdom, runs deep in some stories. I like to push the characters to see what they'll do. And every time, the moms come through.

So, thanks to my mom for giving me such a great role model. Ditto to my mother-in-law, my friends, family and those strangers who do the right thing. Our world is a better place because of those women who know "mother" is also a verb.


Megan Kelly