Interviewed by Rachel Wild
Read Ashley Espinoza’s nonfiction piece, Pumping
Rachel: You speak in your piece about motherhood being a barrier to your writing. Do you think it has added anything to your creative processes ?
Ashley: Being a mother has added so much to my creative process. I now do so much of my writing in my head. This can be dangerous because it could lead to not writing at all. However for me I think my words in my head for days and even weeks and when I finally do get to sit down the words flow out. Afterwards those words will need a lot of editing.
In my essay I write about writing one word on a sticky note, I still use that practice. Since I write memoir I am relying on my memories, so one or two words will do the trick. Right now I have a list compiled of one or two words. I’ll get to those essays when I can, but for me the list is enough to not forget what I intend to write.
Expanding on that question, what is your reaction to those people who say motherhood is no impediment to writing, that it’s just the same as getting divorced or moving house? I’m referring here to this article https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/mar/17/gender.uk
Being a parent might give me less time to write, but it certainly gives me more passion in what I write. I have seen so many inequalities since I was a young girl. I was well aware of racial, gender, ethnicity, cultural, and environmental inequalities at a young age. I’ve never written much about those topics but now that I have a daughter I am hyper aware of these topics. I know she’ll feel so much injustice in her life and I want to protect her and fight for her to not feel the way I did growing up, though I know she will. As an adult there are so many Black, Indigious, Latina, and Asian women authors and artists I look up to that I didn’t have as a kid. I have hope that in my own work and the work of others my daughter will at least have the tools she needs to stand up for herself and others. Being a parent makes you see the world in a different light because all the bad things you’ve been through you don’t want your kid to go through either. I work harder than I did before because now something is at stake, my daughter’s journey through life.
Becoming a mother is such a huge life event. What advice would you give to other writers who are about to become parents?
Give yourself grace. You won’t always want to write, and sometimes you will want to but won’t be able to. For me, my daughter was almost 2 years old before I truly felt like myself again. I felt as if I took on a whole new identity and it took a while to get back to being the me that I used to be. Everyone’s timeline is different, but in the end you have to give yourself grace.
In your piece you speak about carrying your memoir around with you. Is this metaphorical, or do you actually have it all printed out?
This was very literal. I used to carry it around all printed out. Since then I have learned to manage my writing, and no longer find it useful to carry around 150 pages. Right now I have about 15 pages in my bag. I tend to ruminate on my work and if something feels unfinished I’ll carry it around. I do not carry every project around with me, just when I feel stuck. At the beginning of motherhood I was always stuck. I have a better understanding of my journey as a writer and I’ve backed off on the self inflicted pressure.