Any San Francisco writer worth the ribbon in her vintage typewriter sets aside a little time in The Busiest Month of The Year to attend a Litquake event. This year, I chose one called Wine, Women, and Words: Amy Sohn and Katie Crouch in Conversation, which was held at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and indeed consisted of ladies sipping libations and listening to language. In fact, I think I just came up with a better alliterative title for the evening, but perhaps I’ll submit it for next year.
I love going to hear writers read their work, witnessing their bravery as they step out from behind the page and show up in person, hearing their voice with my ears rather than simply listening with my imagination. I have also become totally addicted to hearing stories of mothers who are also artists, and are not willing to say that one or the other of those titles is what solely defines them. For me, motherhood informs my art, and art-making informs me as a mother.
Before I became a mother, I liked to write, but once I had a child, I was struck with an irrepressible urge to get words down. The need to write burned in me, and I heeded the call, starting this blog and seeking freelance writing opportunities. The writers I heard speak the other night were writing as a career before they had their children, and it was fascinating to hear their perspectives on writing while parenting. I appreciated that they didn’t say they had it all tied up with a bow, but were honest about their struggles, about how they are writing in the laundry room during preschool hours, ignoring their messy houses in order to create a different kind of order, on the page.
I went with a fellow Listen To Your Mother cast member, Rhiana, and we could relate to the conversation Ms. Sohn and Ms. Crouch had with the moderator, after reading their pieces. We continued the conversation between the two of us over Asian-Fusion cuisine at a nearby restaurant, grilling each other on what topics of writing got us in trouble with our spouses, and what we want to write about next, even (especially!) if it scares us. I decided to move on from the wine and order a drink that I had never had before, toasting my adventurous writing with an unfamiliar drink. I got a Bombay Sling, which was huge, delicious, and gave me the feeling that everything I was saying was the exact right pronouncement to make at that time.
I brought my liquor-induced conversational skills home to my husband, and we had a perfectly coherent conversation about our respective evenings. Then I announced that I was going to bed, and promptly passed out on the pillow. When I woke up in the morning, I felt great, but suddenly realized that I had lost my clothes in the course of the night.
“Joel? Where are my nightgown and sweater?”
“You don’t remember what happened?”
“No… enlighten me.”
“You took off your clothes, and then when I came to bed and saw that you had done that, I took off my shirt and crawled into bed beside you, which you were horribly insulted by and shamed me for doing. ‘I don’t know what you think you’re doing’, you said. ‘I’m going to sleep, keep your shirt on.’ So I did, and then you started talking in your sleep. ‘I’m so worried about finding a preschool for Olive. Let’s just get Chinese take-out.'”
I had no memory of any of this. I guess the Bombay Sling had a strange side effect that was only unleashed when the drinker fell into slumber. Sneaky Sling! I got out of bed and instantly remembered a bill that I had forgotten to pay for over a month, which was going to be overdue soon. I found exactly where I had put it, and set off writing out the check. So, despite the embarrassing results of the drink, it also gave me bizarre, sudden financial clarity, so I’ll call it a win.
I attended another Litquake event this weekend, but I didn’t drink anything intoxicating, which is wise because I had my two year old with me. The LitCrawl happens all around my neighborhood, and Olive and I walked over a Paxton Gate’s Curiosities for Kids to hear young people as well as adults read their poetry. Olive listened intently to exactly one poem, then ran around the store picking up all the loudest toys possible to try out. So, we took off, but I hope some of the literary goodness sunk in.
I know it did for me — here I am, writing on my blog after a two-week hiatus. Writing takes lots of rumination time, and as my drunken sleeptalking revealed, I have been very stressed out and overly busy lately. I am going to try to slow down this week, and continue that act that I practiced at Litquake… the art of listening.