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The Heresy of Optimism

My two greatest joys in life are mothering and storytelling. Storytelling came first, and part of its allure is its way of taking me to an alternate reality, somewhere I can escape from the drudgery and worries of my real life. The danger is that writing fiction can become a diversion from facing real trouble. Why try to fix the brokenness of this world when I can create and explore another?

Becoming a mother has grounded me. Bearing a child is the greatest act of hope. It is a full commitment to engaging with the difficult present and the terrifying future. I care about my daughter's life with a ferocity that I have never felt for my own.

My livelihood at this point in my life is closely tied to politics and lawmaking. And even if I had a different career, there would be no way for me to shut out the offensive, disgusting, and threatening messages entering my awareness from every radio, television, news outlet, and social media feed.

Angry Jesus. Guns. Rape fatigue.

It keeps me awake now, the world outside my stories. By having a child, I have bet everything on the real world, the real future.

I need to remind myself that the world has never been better. Writing a book about medieval Europe while raising a modern child is a study in contrast--contrast between what women have survived, what women can do in the darkest of times, and what women have achieved for ourselves and our children. New worlds have been created, not just on paper but on the earth. Our cells turn over, we sleep and wake, and our children rise up to replace us, better equipped and nourished and loved than each generation before.

Storytelling lets me craft a frame of reference to compose the raw truths of the world into a meaningful drama. When everything seems threatened--the climate, freedom, health, budgets--I have the power to stand back and see how despite the cries from both the left and the right that the sky is falling, the sun rises and sets each day on a world that has never been better. It is a world that is more hospitable and kind to humans than any that has ever been, and yet it is a world with so much potential for better, so much opportunity for transformation and growth.

As an outlet for my mothering and storytelling urges, I have launched a second blog, focusing on hope and empowerment for mothers in America: Please come and join me there if you are looking for inspiration, political empowerment, and a fresh perspective on difficult issues for mothers. I am committed to keeping it a respectful, supportive, and uplifting forum.

And if you are not at all interested in those things, you may be happy to know that The MotherVote will act as a release valve for my political thoughts, freeing the Magic Nutshell from all things political. I love these win-win situations.


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