Monday, April 28, 2008

Interview: Rebecca Woolf of Girls Gone Child

There's little secrets left to tell about Rebecca Woolf, well-known mom blogger of Girls Gone Child fame and mother to sweet little Archer. On her blog, and in her recently published memoir, Rockabye, Woolf is a tell-all kind of writer and woman. I admire that immensely. Though we lead extremely different lives, an interview with her makes me realize how alike we actually are -- and maybe that is why I've always been a big fan of her blog and writing. I'll be reviewing Woolf's book tomorrow for The Parent Bloggers Network. In the meantime, check out her blog and this interview with this rocking Mama. Believe me, you'll want to stick around to see this one end. Here goes ...

Shawn @ Between the Lines: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer questions. I’m sure you are extremely busy now that your book tour for your memoir, “Rockabye” has kicked off. I’m also sure it’s a thrilling kind of busy. Many of my readers and I are aspiring writers through either non-fiction or fiction so reading and reviewing your book was a real treat for me. You were one of the first Bloggers I read on a regular basis and I have always admired your honesty and great love for your son.

First, please tell me how Girls Gone Child came to be. It’s a great name and seems very well thought out. Did you do much research before starting? Did your blogging style and voice evolve over time? And, how did you build your readership?

WOOLF: I started blogging in 2002. I had a personal blog called Pointy Toe Shoe Factory ( is now defunct), a blog I started as a travel (and life) log when I was 21. My slogan was: “prove your pointy” and I used shoes as my ongoing metaphor for life… the journey… a young single-girl and her experiences. When Archer was born, PTSF didn’t really fit my lifestyle anymore. I was introduced to a few mom-blogs, Bite My Cookie ( was really what inspired me. And it’s author, Dana has since become one of my best friends. My blog was originally named Childbearing Hipster but then I found that there was another Childbearing Hipster so I changed the name to Girl’s Gone Child after a brainstorm sesh. My slogan: “Welcome to the new titty-flashing all nighter” because, well, when you become a mother, your tits pretty much become breasts and all-nighters become very different all-nighters then the ones we remember from our single-years. I mean… right?

SHAWN: I must say that there are many lines and sections of your book that I had thought to myself and even though I’m considered to be a pretty truthful blogger, your book comes and out says things that only I’ve ever thought to myself. How did you discover your writer voice and has that voice always been candid and transparent? If not, when and how did it evolve over the years?

WOOLF: I have no shame. I was never to cross my legs under my chair and sit quietly at the table and that’s gotten me into loads of trouble but it has also allowed me to open up and be honest with myself and my peers. I’ve always been very comfortable talking about the burps and farts of life, the fears and failures. I think it makes me a more interesting writer and person to show flaws. I don’t close my doors, because there is nothing I have going on behind them that is exceptionally unique. We’re all having different versions of the same experience. I want to relate to people and in turn, hope they can relate to me.

I think honesty is one of the greatest gifts we can give to one another, especially as women. One can have grace and class and still talk about her post-partum vagina. And I think we owe it to one another to be candid and open and real, especially when it comes to the things that isolate us most (marriage, motherhood…) For instance I was appalled that no one told me about the physical aftereffects of childbirth. The pain and the bleeding and the fear that sex will never be what it was before childbirth. I was deathly afraid of sexual surrender, mainly because I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it at the time. It makes me feel less alone to open up to people, just as I hope it makes people feel less alone to be opened up to.

SHAWN: I was overly excited to see your book placement on the shelves – smack dab between Mary Wolstencraft and Virginia Woolf. It seems more than fitting considering for you and your memoir. Then, I saw that you quote Virginia Woolf in the beginning of your book. Virginia Woolf is one of my favorite writers. How has Woolf been an inspiration to you as a woman, as a mother and as a writer? What other writers, historic or present day, have you considered your muse, of sorts?

WOOLF: Virgina Woolf was always fascinating to me (as a child) mainly because we shared a last name. When I was old enough to appreciate Woolf I read a great many of her works. A Room of One’s Own is by far my favorite work of Woolf’s, one I would highly recommend to any woman and writer. The quote I chose for the book was one I found to be so inspiring, so totally the way I’d define my parenting philosophy and I suppose, general life philosophy (Thinking against the current… puncturing gas bags and discovering the seeds of truth). I didn’t intend to choose a Woolf quote to open the book, I just kind of fell in love with the strength and independence in those words.

Anais Nin is a goddess to me. I worship her writing, her thoughts. And of course, Henry Miller who I equally adore for different reasons but as a woman I most identify with Nin. She was a brilliant philosopher, on top of being an incredible writer. I have a tattoo around my waist adapted from her book, House Of Incest “… only the truth dressed up as a fairytale…” it says. She’s my ultimate hero. I also adore Jeanette Winterson’s work (specifically Written on the Body and Art and Lies.) If I could write like anyone I would write like Winterson, but if I could spend time with any writer dead or alive, it would be Anais Nin. Other writers that have been of inspiration to me are Colette, Marguerite Duras, Lawrence Durrell and Sylvia Plath.

SHAWN: Congratulations on your pregnancy. You are due Oct. 12 with your second child and have been busy preparing (including the ever-so-important name decisions). Your book gives great details about how hard those first two years as a mother were for you. And yet, you have a very clear, undying love for your son. What will you do differently, if anything, this time around both during your birth and delivery and in that first year or two of mothering a young child?

WOOLF: As far as my birth is concerned I had a really terrible experience with my OBGYN last go around so this time, I’ve found a fantastic doctor that has already made this experience so much more delightful than the last. So there’s that. In terms for what I would do differently with my next child, it’s too soon to know. I know how to be a good parent to Archer and will have to get to know this next child in order to be a good parent to him/her. It will be interesting to see if I apply the same parenting philosophies to both children. I definitely believe that each child is unique and should be treated and nurtured as such.

Oh! And this time around I solemnly swear to get my kid a birth certificate. Archer’s almost three and I still haven’t made the trek downtown to the notary to get him one. I know… it’s horrible.

SHAWN: The way you describe today’s modern parents – full of dreams and goals and distractions – was so right on I was practically cheering you on while reading late one night. It really is a fine line to be a mother and to be a dreamer, too, because so much of our life isn’t our own anymore. It’s like walking on a tight rope every day of what we want to do and what has to get done. What advice do you have to offer other dreamers like myself to write that book or pursue any other dreams women might have while caring for young children?

WOOLF: Women are nurturers sometimes to a fault and become a parent exacpterates our desire to nurture. Unfortunately more than not, we forget the importance of nurturing ourselves, so concentrated are we on our families and children. I’ll use the ol’ sex analogy. It’s easiest to lay there, wait for the man to get off and be done with it, but what’s the point, then? What’s the point of sex if there’s no happy ending? What’s in it for anybody? No man wants an unfulfiilled woman. And how many of us are really enjoying ourselves just laying there?

With some work and perhaps some self-stimulation, it is possible to “have it all”… To provide and still be provided for. I guess my advice would be to masturbate your creativity. Ha! Set a time every day for you and the things that make you feel whole. Whether that’s working on career aspirations, creative impulses, etc. There is always time for the things we truly love and we owe it to ourselves and our families to feel good about ourselves and what we are doing to better and nurture our own identities.

How does blogging inspire/motivate/move you as a writer? As a mother? Do you ever think you’ll quit blogging?

Blogging has been very beneficial to me. I love doing it and it’s absolutely made me a better writer, and parent but most of all it’s given me a community of like-minded amazing parents and people and that has been the most inspiring thing of all.

I don’t know if I’ll quit blogging. I will stop blogging about Archer at some point (my cut-off is Kindergarten.). I think at a certain age, our children should make the call as to whether or not they want to be written about. I don’t want to tell Archer’s story for him…It’s his story to tell, after all and I believe it should be up to him whether or not he wants to tell it himself.

SHAWN: Finally, what’s next for you? Will you delve back into that original dream of yours – to write a novel?

WOOLF:Yes! I actually just finished a short script that I’ll be co-producing this summer, in a feature presentation (with four other film-makers.) It’s a very exciting project and I’m the token female on board so I feel kind of scared and special all at once. It’s also my first stab at screenwriting. It’s super low-budget, indie-rock situation but I’m proud of my little script and also am working on a pilot based on Rockabye with my husband, Hal, who’s a producer.

Re: my novel. I’m picking up where I left off last January when I sold Rockabye and had to drop my current novel renovations. I have a lot of work to do yet. The story takes place in San Francisco during WWII so I’ve had to do a lot of research and the book’s format is insanity so it’s going to take some time to write it the way I’d like it to read. This is actually my third novel. I finished two but neither were good enough I don’t think. I have high hopes for this new one, though. I think I’m ready to be a novelist. I feel ready. I hope.

Thank you for visiting today.

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1 comment:

Shannon said...

OKay, I'm sold! Great interview, Shawn & thanks for the introduction to Rebecca. I love what she said about "we are all living different versions of the same experience." That's one thing I'm grateful for all the momma/writer bloggers out there, for this wonderful lesson.

(What a fantastic cover, too!)