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We who are about to breed: Bernadette Geyer.

September 6, 2011 \am\30 11:00 am

[In which WWAATD asks writers and other artist types about life as breeders/parents/kid-keepers.]

Name: Bernadette Geyer

1.    What are your kid’s name/age? 

5-year-old daughter.

2.    How do you balance your time between parenting and writing?

I always tell people that I do not balance, I juggle. Balance implies all things getting equal attention at once, which is impossible for me. I prefer to focus completely on one thing at a time and let everything else hang suspended momentarily.

3.    What is the best piece of advice about being a parent and a writer?

When you are on an airplane, the flight attendant always says that in case of emergency, the parent should apply his/her own oxygen mask before applying their child’s. I think of life in this way. If you are not taking care of yourself and your own needs, you will not be stable/healthy enough to properly attend to your child’s needs. I can parent best when I have had enough time/space to take care of writing, so that I do not feel “guilty” about spending an entire weekend at the swimming pool, or a snow day sledding & building snowmen.

When I first had my baby, I chose two nights each week that I would leave the house as soon as my husband came home from work so that I could go focus on my writing. That worked out to about 6 hours a week that I focused completely on my writing!

When I am writing, I focus on writing. When I am spending time with my family, I focus on family. When I am doing the “earning a living” thing, I focus on that.

4.    How has your writing changed since becoming a parent?

I think becoming a parent shook me up and helped me to see and relate to my world in a whole new way. Ask questions. It opened me to a whole new range of subject matter for sure. It also changed the way I wrote. Now, when I have/carve time for writing, I either have a specific project that I’m working on that I dive into, or I allow myself to just freewrite and be sloppy. I write much more now than I did before I become a parent. However, I throw a lot more away as well. I also find myself taking much longer to get poems to where I want them, allowing the tweaking/editing process to extend for months for a single poem.

5.    Tell us something we don’t know about you and being an artist- or writer-slash-parent.

I live by my “To Do” list. I am a compulsive list-maker. I get a thrill crossing things off my list. Also, my license plate reads “POET MOM”.

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