Friday, October 5, 2018

Book Notes: "One Beautiful Dream," by Jennifer Fulwiler

So, this is a book I gulped down. Jennifer Fulwiler’s writing voice is so good—if this was fiction, you’d call her a compelling protagonist, one you’re rooting for, and one who makes you want to know what’s going to happen next.

(On that note, may I just say, Wow, I miss Jen’s blog! I was a fan of it over a decade ago, and I’m sure she’s doing wonderful things on her radio show now, and she’s clearly still writing glorious books, but…I miss her blog. It just has to be said.)

So, what is One Beautiful Dream about? It’s about fulfilling a creative vocation while mothering a whole passel of kids. Which totally makes it what you'd call “relevant to my interests.”

In it, Jennifer tells the story of writing her first book, while not just mothering the kids she had, but gestating and giving birth to a few more. It’s about how she learned to stop treating her vocation as a mother as if it were an enemy of her vocation as a writer—as if in order to make room for her writing, her mothering vocation had to be the lion she held back with a whip and a chair.

I really love this bit, which I think sums up a lot of what the book’s about:

There is a tendency with anyone who loves any kind of work to fantasize that if you just had endless time for it, you’d be able to achieve perfection in this field. Yet what I’d discovered is that when you put love first, not only does your life improve, but your work improves…In my case, I faced interruption after interruption in my house full of babies. And, in the process, I finally learned how to write a book.

It is, like all good memoirs, a story that spends time on details that support the theme, and elides past those that don’t. For instance, from my experience as a NICU mom, I’m sure that a whole book could have been written about Jennifer’s experience of having a baby in the NICU, yet she only spends a short span of pages there.

And that’s okay, because that’s not what this particular book is about…but little spaces like that make me realize how much I’d like, someday, to read about the bits that happened in the spaces.

If she ever feels like writing those books, that is. Jennifer’s an author I’d trust to decide when and where to tell which stories--no author should feel pressure to write the things she doesn't want to write.

But all I have to say is: at this point, I’m here to read whatever books she feels like writing. I definitely recommend this book.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

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Katie Andrews Potter said...

Wow - sounds like a book I need to read.

Hi Jennifer, I'm happy to have found your blog. I'm putting your books on my to-read list, too! I'm a mama myself, Episcopalian, writer, teacher, homeschooler... anyway, I think we have some things in common. Nice to meet you - have a lovely day. :)


Jessica Snell said...

Katie - It's so nice to (virtually) meet you! Thanks for stopping by!