Zen in the art of writing (and mothering)

I recently finished reading the book Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury and was sorry that it had come to an end. What I really appreciated about the book was Ray’s enthusiasm for the process of writing, and him illustrating (with such poetic phrases) how so much of our childhood experiences – and all manner of life experiences – can inform and give inspiration to our writing.

Sometimes I daydream about having chosen writing as a career path way back when I was a teenager, but as I try to remind myself, if it hadn’t been for all those other things that I did along the way, like my science degrees, school teaching, getting married and becoming a mother… well, my writing probably wouldn’t have been as experienced-soaked as it is now.

I felt a real affinity with Ray because he was so enthusiastic about putting ‘gusto’ and ‘zest’ into writing. The only drawback to the book was that he invariably labelled writers as ‘he’ and rarely mentioned women writers. This is such a shame… but I guess he was of his era, and I’m not keen to analyse this too deeply.

Anyway, I thought that a lot of his useful words could be applied to mothering. I particularly like this paragraph about the people around a writer who are meant to support the writer:

Who are your friends? Do they believe in you? Or do they stunt your growth with ridicule and disbelief? If the latter, you haven’t friends. Go find some.



Zen in the art of writing book cover
Zen in the art of writing book cover

So much of a new mother’s life is about finding the right path for her and her baby. Mothers will look to other mothers for reassurance and support in this momentous task that is ‘mothering’. So let me rephrase that paragraph:

Who are your friends? Do they believe in you and your baby’s need for each other and your close – almost telepathic – bond? Or do they stunt your growth as a mother with ridicule and disbelief? If the latter, you haven’t friends. Go find some.

When I found myself going through challenges in the first few years of becoming a mother (mostly due to lack of sleep coupled with mothering a sensitive child who was happiest at my breast or in my arms) there were very few people supporting me in my mothering choices. So what did I do? I went along to my local LLL group and found some friends. (I wrote about this in My Sister, My Guide.)

Being a mother, and carrying out the task of mothering is joyful, yet it is also full of challenges. Having friends who support you and believe in you can make all the difference. If you haven’t any friends who fit that definition, as Ray says: you haven’t friends. Go find some.

0 thoughts on “Zen in the art of writing (and mothering)”

  1. Hi Marija,
    Thank you for sharing this post with me on Twitter. I love the Bradbury quote that you’ve included here: it encapsulates his wit, his writing style, the almost perfunctory way that he likes to make a point. It made me smile and reminded me of his other work.

    You say that you found people who supported you in your mothering at LLL. What do mothers do who don’t have a group near them, or who are perhaps finished with their breastfeeding journey? I’ve noticed that LLL provides a wonderful opportunity for women to discuss parenting and family, and the journey of motherhood in general, but there are very few opportunities for this outside LLL. …unless you include competitive playground banter or meaningless coffee chit chat. Where can mothers really find a place to connect and feel supported? Motherhood can be such a lonely place for so many women.

    I always love reading your blog, thank you again.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      I’m honoured to have you say that you love reading my blog, because I love reading your blog too – I try to read it with a hot cup of tea, although sometimes a cold one will do 😉

      Have you read that book by Ray Bradbury I wonder? My husband’s got a couple of his novels, and when I have the chance I will start to read one of them. He got the Zen book for Christmas, and he left it in the toilet one day, so I couldn’t help come across it, and when I did… well, I think a good twenty minutes flew by (while kiddy chaos went on outside the toilet door).

      I think you raise a thought-provoking point about LLL. I honestly don’t know what mothers do who don’t have a group near them. Unless, of course, they are determined enough to do the Leader training and build a group themselves. “If you build it, they will come…” because that way a mother can gather other like-minded mothers to herself. I also guess that online communities can be a good place for mothers to connect… and mothers’ meetings (such as Naomi Stadlen’s ‘Mothers Talking’ discussion groups). But, I do think that there has to be some kind of base philosophy in place, because otherwise it may end up being too artificial? (Is that the right word?) And a good facilitator has to be sort of ‘in charge’ to make sure that each mother’s needs are met.

      I think that if you’ve been involved in LLL but then your breastfeeding journey ends… well, LLL is still a great place. If you didn’t have LLL at the start, then yes, it would probably be difficult to share mothering challenges in an open, honest way in day-to-day life.

      Thanks for making me think about this issue – it’s great to dialogue with you on this 🙂
      Best wishes x

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