nonBlog—May 2009

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Because I Love Her?—Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I just received my third invitation to another reading of a new anthology I am no longer in. It’s called Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond, and it’s out this month in paperback from Harlequin.
I’m no longer in the book because the editor suggested I think hard before publishing my essay. She had contacted me to ask for the piece because she read about it in my article in O, the Oprah Magazine last January. That article was called “The Willpower Myth,” and in it I explained that I achieved a breakthrough in my personal essay writing with the assistance of a mentor who helped me understand that much of what I wanted to say had to do with my unpleasable mother. I wrote a story about the conversation my mother and I had that made me decide it would be healthier for me to become estranged from her than to stay close to her, and the story was selected as a finalist for a literary award.
So I sent the anthology editor that essay, and she accepted it for the book. During the editing process, she told me that the book was intended as a Mother’s Day gift item and that mine was the most brutal story in the mix. She thought my piece would attract a lot of press—was I ready to publish it? Was I comfortable making the decision, a year in advance, to close the door on my relationship with my mother? Because that is what the editor thought would happen if I allowed her to keep my essay in the book.
Her reaction to my story was ironic, because the conversation I described was one my mother was proud of. I had found her behavior shocking, but she had bragged about it later, so I knew she wouldn’t be embarrassed to have it described. But I imagined my frank essay in this nicey-nice Mother’s Day anthology, pictured reviewers singling me out for violating the Fifth Commandment, and I withdrew the essay.
But I’m still invited to the readings. I don’t know whether I wish I had published the essay or I’m glad I didn’t. I don’t know whether I hope the book doesn’t sell or I’ll be relieved if it does and I don’t have to suffer the consequences. All I know is, I don’t think I’m going.




New, or Practically New

  • Fame and Fortune: Currently working on, and shocked to find I’m making headway with, the latter. Partly because of a bit of movement on the former. Perhaps endurance is the key to everything after all.