If you are gestating a baby or writing a book, it is imperative to consume wisely. We moms and writers need all the nutrition, education, and inspiration we can get.
Last weekend, I went on a trip to Chicago to reunite with my college roommates. It was vacation, so I enjoyed some junk food (hot dogs, fries, cake, candy) and some junk reading (the trashiest tabloids the corner store had to offer). Having a junky treat here or there, orally or mentally, is no big deal. In fact, it's probably good for you. Everything in moderation, including moderation! I'm not talking about things that could do immediate and lasting damage, like doing shots while pregnant or reading through rotten.com (there are things you can't unsee...); I am referring, of course, to fun or frivolous indulgences that are only harmful in excess or when they replace necessary nourishment.
Like GOOD food and GOOD writing. In parenthood and authorship, nothing is guaranteed, and not everything is within your control. But you can stack the odds well in your favor. You want to have a healthy baby? Be a healthy pregnant woman. You want to be a good writer? Be well-read. It's not so much about avoiding pitfalls as making sure you get enough roughage. Stuff that makes your guts move and your brain churn.
I have not been a productive writer while pregnant. I haven't let my writing slide entirely, but I have not made much progress on my book. Most of my energy has been refocused, to put it mildly. So this is a great time for me to read wonderful, mind-blowing fiction, to watch brilliant films, and to fill up on fresh produce and wholesome, home-cooked meals. I'm fattening up on well balanced nutrients and well turned phrases. Already, when I go back and read excerpts of my book, sentences I never noticed jump out at me, begging to be changed and knowing exactly how they can be better.
I get the feeling my baby will surprise me even more.
I just read a summary of research on fetal sensory and psychological development. Fascinating! Apparently everything I eat, breathe, hear, sing, do, and feel affects my growing baby. To some extent, I believe the same is true for stories gestating within us. Our moods, knowledge, inspirations, motivations, dreams, and experiences shape what we write about and how we write it.
Before I ditched graduate school, I learned that educators who consistently work with people struggling with literacy end up losing their own grammar and spelling skills. They are so accustomed to reading incorrect or "bad" writing that they actually stop noticing it and start making common mistakes in their own writing. Just as too much junk food makes us sick and weak over time, reading unskilled writing makes our brains atrophy.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it, yo.
(Don't, really. Especially if you are pregnant.)
But people who eat healthy and read great writing in general--and therefore have superior immunities--are unaffected by the occasional Twinkie or interview with Snookie.
I'm looking forward to receiving my September issue of Glamour in the mail, and I'm looking forward to a cup of ice cream after dinner tonight. But I am also feeling strong and well-fed from a diet of mainly healthy foods and stimulating prose.
Are you gestating anyone or anything at the moment? How do you feed yourself?