Thursday, February 22, 2007


Tillie Olson

(January 14,1912–

January 1, 2007)

I read Tillie Olson in college but her message of how hard it is to be a writer and a parent did not resonate until I had a family of my own. It is difficult whether you are a father or a mother to get to the keyboard or the pad of paper when the laundry is piling up, the bathtub leaks down into the second floor,or the youngest has the tummy bug and has spewed once again all over the last bedsheets.Writing is not a leisure sport for parents. Instead, it is a sprint between disasters and bills (which are the same evils). It is the lonely feeling that you get late at night when the wind howls outside and the words refuse to make their stubborn appearance. You wonder at these times whether or not you should have got the MBA instead of an English degree in medieval to Victorian literature and you have doubt about one's self-worth that haunts inside like a lurking windigo. There are no easy answers to the question of being a writer. Why?

It is a sometimes an unreasonable job that, like a forest demon, can be either a blessing or curse to those possessed with ink in their blood.

Tillie Olson articulated this solitude that a writer has when there seems to be only the black box of one's mind among the day to day of housecleaning, penny budgeting, and stretching the self outside of the safe realm of one's imagination to nurture the children that surround you. She will be greatly missed as an author.

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