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Monday, June 24, 2013

Momma Who is Rocking It: Brittany Fonte

Meet Brittany Fonte. Amazing writer, English professor and a mother of two. If you haven't read her book Fighting Gravity than dash/run/sprint to get yourself a copy. It is the perfect summer read- beautifully written and has the addictive pace of Gone Girl. She has more greatness in the works so be sure to follow her on twitter- @PoetBFonte. Here is my interview with her on how she makes it all work, including my favorite line- how she talked her partner into becoming parents to be a part of "this lovely chaos"... just beautiful. Thank you Brittany. I can't wait to read what you write next.

Children: Jonas, 7; Keaton, 3
Occupation: English Professor
Books: Buddha in My Belly (prose poetry), Fighting Gravity (YA fiction) and co-editor of a poetry anthology titled Flicker and Spark.
Book in the works: I’m in the process of having an adult fiction book published (Jan 2014), titled A.K.A. Charming (about a modern-day fairytale) and also am working on a kids’ chapter book about an adopted zombie called Chase D. Zombee.

  1. How long have you been a writer? I remember writing in third grade.  I’d write in black and white marble notebooks longhand.  I’d give up on a story when my hand hurt too badly to continue. I wrote my first real “novel” my last year in college, but that novel needs too much revision to even contemplate right now.

  1. Have you always known that you have wanted to write? I, actually, applied and got into law school after undergrad.  Literally two weeks before I was supposed to move I called my mother and cried—that all I wanted to do was be a writer and teach writing. So, yes, I have always wanted to write, it was just a matter of understanding that I could do such as my career.

  1. How many hours do you spend writing in a typical week? There’s rarely a “typical” week for me.  When I have a project due, I can write anywhere from 10-20 hours a week.  Normally, though, I eek out a poem or a few paragraphs at a time once the kids get to bed.

  1. Best advice for someone wanting to become a published author: Never, ever give up.  There are literally thousands of writers out there who are award-winners now but once were simply rejected by every agent and publishing house they submitted to.  Writing is absolutely subjective, but if you keep sending out work, and don’t take the rejections to heart (writers I know say you aren’t a “real” writer until you have been rejected 100 times) you will make that one break.  And that’s all you need!

  1. What is your favorite work that you have written so far? They are all so different! I am particularly attached to A.K.A. Charming, as it’s a story about a marriage and many moments in that book are moments from my own relationship—at least in feeling.  In addition, it’s my first “grown-up” fiction book. It comes out January 2014.

  1. What is the best part of being a writer? The best part, by far, is when people tell me my work has touched them emotionally.  I love when readers of totally different backgrounds find something in common with one another, and with me.

  1. Most challenging part? It’s incredibly difficult to be rejected as often as it takes to make a name for yourself! It’s certainly not a profession for the faint of heart, and I have spent more than a few days crying in response to something an editor or professor has said about my writing.

  1. Where do you find your inspiration? I think inspiration is everywhere.  Some days I am more open to that inspiration, and some days I am so focused on the “have tos” of my life as a mother and wife that I don’t allow myself that room to be selfish and think only of my writing, my artistic wants.  It’s like anything else as a mother, you have to train yourself to put yourself first every once in awhile for the good of the whole family.

  1. What is your favorite book? This is an easy one! My very favorite book of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird.  I have so many books that touch me, though, including The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, and “fun” reading like mystery stories (my new favorite “guilty” reading author is Mo Hayder, a British crime writer who used to be a cinematographer.)

  1. How long have you and your partner been together and what is your best tip for making it work. My partner and I have been together eleven years.  We are, ultimately, total opposites in the scope of our interests.  I think this, alone, is a strength for us.  Though she doesn’t really understand my poetry and my writing, she does support it and we learn from one another on a regular basis.  It also keeps our lives fresh—each of us trying new things that we would never have tried before. So my tip to others would be try to engage your better half in something you are passionate about, and allow him or her to show you what he or she is passionate about.  I think sharing passions often sparks some!

  1. Last time you had a date with your significant other? Man, I knew there would be a trick question here! May is the month of birthdays in our house; our son’s birthday is the 13th and our daughter’s is the 29th.  So we don’t have very many “free” weekend evenings once you add in family birthday parties and friends’ parties.  Add to that my ten day trip to Minnesota in April for a family emergency, and I would have to say that our last date was probably early April.

  1. Can you tell me about what the journey was like in becoming parents? My partner says I talked her into this lovely chaos! I always knew I wanted to be a mother, and my partner did not think that was in the stars for her.  I think, after two years together, I whined enough that we had a serious discussion about it.  It’s a long process, of course, to have children when you lack both of the biological necessities—and this is true in heterosexual couples, too.  We decided I would carry the baby (we had decided on one child, initially, and were comfortable with that decision until my partner lost both her parents and the only person she had left in this world who really understood her and her upbringing was her sister) because her salary paid the majority of the bills and mine, if medical processes necessitated it, could be deleted. We went through seven months of trying IUI with our son and, with our daughter, we tried three times with IUI and then chose to go onto IVF.  The process, itself, was heartbreaking and amazing and definitely more than we expected.  With my son, I remember calling our friend, an obgyn, on a regular basis to ask if the things I was going through were normal.  

  1. Last time one of your children made you smile. This morning My daughter literally woke up and asked to play Barbies.  The Barbies needed to go to Whole Foods to get steak and cookies.

  1. What is the most challenging part of being a parent? Patience is a challenge for me.  As the parent who is always at home with the kids, and also balancing my real work and my writing, I have to remember to be patient.  And I have little patience if I don’t take care of myself, so that part is hard, too.  Finding time for naps, if I need them, or runs, or a coffee to contemplate the next chapter of a book is sometimes impossible.

  1. Last time that you feel like you failed as a parent. My daughter is three, and she is a normal three-year-old girl, which means she has emotional break downs about every thirty minutes. My son is a normal seven-year-old boy, which means he rarely listens to what I say, as he is more interested in the television, or a game, or going outside.  When the two of them decide to egg one another on, I lose it.  About a week ago I literally yelled because my older one would not stop pinning the younger one down and the little one wouldn’t stop taunting the older one.  Yelling is definitely when I feel like I have failed as a parent.

  1. Last time that you feel like you rocked as a parent. I took the two kids (with a little help from my 17 year old niece) to the National Zoo last week!  I let them hang out and play in the sprinklers and eat Dippin’ Dots and wear themselves totally out.

  1. Who is easier, your daughter or your son? That is a tough question! In general, my son is able to entertain himself and get his own snacks, etc.  However, neither of them is “easy”!   I literally fantasize about a time when they can get up themselves on a Saturday morning, turn on cartoons, and get their own breakfasts!

  1. Is there a trip you hope to take either with your partner or as a family? We are looking at going to Disney World in February.  My son has been, at two and a half, and my daughter is much more of a risk taker, so I think she will really enjoy the rides.  We just bought a new van, so we will be driving to Florida!  It will definitely be an adventure!

  1. What is your best time management tip? I use a planner for everything.  If I don’t write it down, I don’t remember it.  So I would say my best time management tip is to write every place you need to be in a week on a planner, and also all of the big tasks you need to accomplish. Allow yourself a little treat (coffee? Five minutes in the bathroom with the door closed?) when you finish something.  If you are struggling with time in a day, get up just 15 minutes earlier the next day.

  1. Best organization tip? I try to clean out/ organize one small part of my home a day.  Sometimes it is as small as the junk drawer in the kitchen.  Sometimes I tackle a toy chest.  But I do something every day.

  1. What is your standby recipe when you don’t have the time or energy to cook? I am addicted to Pinterest! My son is really, really into pizza, and I found a recipe on Pinterest for “bubble pizza.”  It’s literally cut up refrigerated biscuits on the bottom of a pan, then sauce, then cheese, then veggies.  You can get gluten-free biscuits, use low-sugar sauce, and even use vegan cheese. You can pile on whatever veggies/ fruits your kids will eat.

  1. If you won the lottery what would be the first thing you would do? Pay tuition! My kids go to an amazing private school, The Key School, and if the tuition disappeared from our financial plates we would be happy campers!

  1. Do you have a mantra or words that you live by? Yes: Progress, not Perfection.  I also am a practicing Buddhist, so this is important to me: “For as long as space endures, and for as long as living beings remain, until then may I, too, abide, to dispel the misery of the world” (from The Way of the Bodhisattva, 8th century).

  1. What lesson or lessons do you hope your children are truly listening to you about? My friends think I’m odd, because I don’t allow my kids to squish bugs.  Literally, we had a small cockroach in the house the other day.  We had to catch him with a cup and put him outside in the yard.  I do this because I want my children to understand compassion, and a reverence for life. I believe that all living creatures have inherent worth, and I hope that my children hear me when I tell them this.

  1. If you could create more hours in a day, what do you wish that you had more time for? I’d love more time to cuddle with my partner  We work so hard to be sure the kids are taken care of and our work is taken care of that sometimes we neglect time for one another.

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