Gwendolen Gross is a writer and author of the recently released novel The Other Mother
. The Other Mother
is about the lives and relationship between two mothers, each with different issues, choices, and feelings about work, motherhood, and identity. Gwendolen is a mother of two and in this interview she talks about her own work-life juggle as well as the inspiration behind writing her latest book.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a novelist and I teach writing as well—I suppose I’ve been in this industry forever (or at least since I wrote a musical with my own invented notation because I was not particularly good at reading music when I was eight), but I’ve been writing plus teaching plus momming since I finished my MFA at age 30. I used to work in publishing. I like this side of the desk much, much better.
Can you briefly describe your usual day?
I get up, take care of kids and dog, drop off kids, and write for several hours—as many as I’ve set aside in my day planner. I’m fairly compulsive about scheduling writing time, or it doesn’t happen. Then teaching, laundry, marketing stuff for The Other Mother, making dinner, more dog walking and momming get squeezed in throughout the day. The hours to write are the most elusive, so I always try to schedule extra (you know the school nurse will call. Or there will be an important online interview…)
Best thing about your job:
I have to be honest here: I love what I do. Writing fiction allows you to be a little god—you get to tell your truths (not facts, those can be boring, but the things that you’ve observed about people that matter) in the body of characters and their stories. It’s much easier to cope with life through a character than in ordinary life. That said, I get to be both mom and writer (though sometimes it gets complicated. I recently brought my children to a book reading/signing. My daughter sat in my lap with crayons, very sweet. My son (also sweet, in his own ways) came up after I’d read a few paragraphs and said, loudly, “MOM, when are you going to stop reading? It’s a LONG BOOK.”), and though the balance is precarious, it’s perfect.
Most challenging thing about your job:
Balance. The school nurse always calls. I wake up thinking about a character’s woes and the dog throws up. If I could, I’d write first thing in the morning until I got hungry around noon, but everyone in the house gets up and needs things. Not that I blame them—we all need things!
What is your childcare arrangement and how happy are you with it?