…Married Life-why i write… | “Antonya Nelson, Escapism, and The New Frontier…”

During a recent interview for The Writer Magazine, short story writer, Antonya Nelson, also dubbed, “…master of domestic drama…” received the received the statement, “...your work focuses on family-centered problems. Sue Miller has said men used to light out for the territories, but that ‘home’ is the new frontier.”

To the interviewer, Sarah Anne Johnson’s question, “Do you agree?” Nelson responded, “I write about families because that’s what I know. I’m very glad other writers are writing about other things and places, adventures abroad, wars and plagues and science and zombies. But what I know intimately, what I can report on honestly, what I think about endlessly, is the relations among people who are attached to one another helplessly by faithfulness and need, as well as wrestling a contrary urge to be individuals. Family dramas are always positing the self vs. community, private vs. the public, and most importantly, the head vs. the heart.”
A Gift for the Short Form, by Sarah Anne Johnson, The Writer Magazine, September 2010

Reading this I knew immediately that Antonya Nelson was someone whose work I needed to start reading, not simply and so much from my perspective as a writer, but as a person who loves reading about families working it out, trying to work it out, sometimes, and oftentimes failing to work it out.

I am also a writer, who as a wife of 28 years and mother of 3, ages 11, 18, and 23, continually ponders and explores the nature of the marriage relationship, connections that spin and sprout from this union and how ripples in this union spread to those interactions of family members surrounding them.

In a country where so many applaud and seek the escapism and escapist fantasies of having to answer to no one, but their will and impulses it was heart warming to see where one person, a wife and mother who also happens to be an artist, a writer, explain where the various urges and desires around this subject meet with her ambitions.

Often in America, our ambitions, those goals we seek to accomplish along with our commitment to spouse and family require commitment to and completion of tasks that tear us from those we love and with whose support and devotions we never have discovered our dreams, hopes and wishes as an individual.

Each of us is but a speck of dirt, misplaced and blown about without the support, protection and comfort of family.

The lie is that we stand strong without spouses and children weighing us down.

That weight, reframed in a more practical light of what is necessary to survive life in this world.

What some have called dead weight is actually grounding, both physical and emotional, both of which are necessary to navigating human existence.

Moving through life without a family is like a plane flying with radar and absent connection to an air traffic controller in a flight tower.

We are blind.


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