Being a writer and being a good parent must be entirely contrary occupations. If the children of some famous writers are to be believed.
Today's New York Times profiles three offspring of wildly successful writers, three offspring who have written memoirs about growing up with a famous parent.
If I'd have to trade my relationships for the fame of Joseph Heller, I'd prefer to labor in obscurity.
By his daughter's account, the man was a bastard of the first order who didn't seem to much like the wee lass he helped create. Mr. Heller was too busy loving himself, even though he had the love of the reading world heaped upon him when Catch-22 became the stuff of American Lit classes.
What sort of choices did the author of Sophie's Choice make in regard to his daughter?
He picked his writing, a solitary, intensive occupation that acted like a wall to keep everyday life away.
If you've done much writing, you know about that wall. You block out some time to focus on words, on sentence structure and narrative flow, and you get so wrapped up in the story you're creating that you don't have a family. You have your novel, coming together via your own thoughts and imagination. There's no room in there for sibling rivalry, skinned knees or the oil change your car needs.
Given the demands of writing well, it comes as no surprise that William Styron and Joseph Heller were distant parents. The family was sacrificed for the sake of the writing.
Can someone come out with a biography of a writing parent that casts a positive light on this absurd hobby so many of us are pursuing with near obsession? One happy child, anyone? Or is it a given that writers shouldn't reproduce?