|Pic: Kylie Lewis|
When I wrote The Divided Heart almost five years ago, I could never have predicted that it would mean something to other people. As I said in my talk, I just wrote the book I needed to read.
I had no idea how to maintain my own creative life amid the competing demands from my children, partner, work, housework, parents, friends...
I still struggle with the feeling that creativity is a complete indulgence, especially when compared to the needs of my children. And I still question whether I am a good enough writer to make it worth all I have to ask of myself and my family in order to keep it up.
But as I tried to express in my talk, the most important reason to make art — the reason that trumps anything you could list in the "cons" column — is because you need to. Because it connects you to the world, because it makes you see things differently, because it makes you feel alive.
It was impossible not to notice how few men were at the conference (though bravo to the blokes, who generously participated in what was a fairly female-centric discussion). The room was packed to the brim with vibrant, animated, remarkable women, and as a result, the question of how to be an artist and a mother was a major theme.
Women are just so hungry for information about how to reconcile these two seemingly incompatible aspects of their life and identity: creativity and motherhood.
But much more than that, women need reassurance that they have a right to keep their own passions at the forefront of their lives.
So many women approached me throughout the day with tears in their eyes, concerned that their desire to be "more then just a mother" was hurting their family. The tie between women and their children is so intense, we seem hardwired for guilt!
Every speaker at the conference reminded us that what our kids need most is a mother who is living a passionate, fulfilled life.
I hope my talk on "Giving Yourself the Permission to be Creative" played some small part in helping women believe that keeping their own interests alive is the best thing they can do not just for themselves and their family, but also for the world at large.
For a lovely sense of the day, check out the extraordinary Lily Mae Martin's sketches on her blog, Berlin Domestic or Pip Lincolne (Meet Me at Mike's) wonderful photos, and join the BHB facebook page to stay in the loop on future events.