To Bear or Not To Bear?

When I get too many writing rejections in a row, I often return to one particular despairing thought: “Maybe I should just give up and have kids.”


Perhaps not EIGHT of them and perhaps not all at once. But I could have kids! Then I’d be too tired to think about writing, and agents, and publishing, and whether Katie Roiphe would hate me if she knew me (Team Chabon/Waldman!), and should I be heartened or threatened by the success of Sarah Vowell, who is who I want to be when I grow up (also: Margaret Atwood), and is 28 young or old, really, when it comes down to it?

Everyone has ideas for me. One agent suggested I turn my first novel into a Young Adult book because kids, unlike adults, wouldn’t be turned off by magic realism. Another agent suggested I write essays because fiction doesn’t sell. A third agent said essays don’t sell, and have I considered turning memoir into fiction? So round and round we go.

Unless I give up! In which case, I could live here, in Barbie’s Southern Dream House, complete with arbor:

Wouldn't you visit to sit in that arbor?

Or here! Look at that kitchen:

Mmmmm kitchen ...

I could get involved in local politics or something, and garden, and raise the kids with one hand while I read with the other. (Do the kids deserve better? No! Entitled brats. Unless they’re Tina Fey’s kids, in which case, duh, yes, of course. I will be extra-nice to Tina Fey’s kids. They will get to eat sugar and meat while my own offspring will be raised on veggie burgers out of the box which they’ll be lucky if I bother to thaw.)

Or I could redouble my efforts. Grit my teeth and get the IUD I am scheduled to get on April 9th, which I expect to be about as traumatic as that time I got my wisdom teeth out but not quite as bad as Scientologist home-birth. If I succeed in not passing out from the pain, I could go shooting, and then come home and write more of whatever I am moved to write, whether it be YA, fiction, or memoir, and keep on hoping.


PS — If you have any stories about getting an IUD that do not involve you going all swoony and unconscious, please share!

6 thoughts on “To Bear or Not To Bear?”

  1. Hi, Ester. Ah, the eternal question. Unlike me, you married young, so you have lots of time. (Not that one has to be married to have kids. What I meant was you found the person you would have kids with–if you decided to have kids–at a young age that I.) But I have a friend who married at 22 and waited until she was 38 to have a child. They almost didn’t do it, because they were pretty happy as they were. But ultimately she decided (her spouse was happy either way and left the decision to her) that she would never know what it was like to be a parent and raise a child unless she actually did it. That child is now all grown up, so she is back to having a child-free home, except when daughter comes home from college to visit. It worked out fine and didn’t seem to get in the way of her career (as a food scientist). But I certainly wouldn’t be in a hurry if I were you.

  2. Don’t give up! According to Malcolm Gladwell in “What the Dog Saw,” Ben Fountain had “at least thirty rejections” for every story he published during the “early years,” and he worked for 4 years on a novel that he then decided wasn’t very good and put in a drawer. Eventually (after 18 years of steady writing) he became a very successful author (as I’m sure you know). Mind you, it would be great to have babies, too, along with your successful writing career. Yes you can! But you shouldn’t feed my fantasies of you guys buying a house here in Asheville! That’s too delicious to contemplate.

  3. That picture of Octomom is better contraception than the IUD, ugh.

    For what it’s worth, my work intensified and I got more focused after I had my kid. Of course I had less time to write and writing seemed less meaningful than spending time with my son, but the relationship I have with the work never goes away. My two cents.

  4. Even if you were raising an army of Tina Fey’s children, I think you would still end up writing–it’s one of your big talents, and the drive to produce new work seems sort of inescapable for you.


  5. IUD stories:
    1. I went with a friend to get hers. Held her hand while the doc did the deed. Weirdest part: they spritz your cervix with numbing stuff! Sounds just like hairspray.
    2. You know how they give you a pill that softens your cervix to make the dilation/insertion easier? You are supposed to put the pill in your vag, not swallow it. My other friend did that. Say it with me now: pill in the vag, not in the mouth.
    Rooting for you!

  6. You are all hilarious and very wise. At the moment, Tina Fey is pregnant and I’m not, so it seems like things are as they should be. For now.

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