Bruce Gillespie

A blog by freelance writer and editor Bruce Gillespie.

How it all began

Many people have asked me where the idea for Nobody’s Mother, and now Nobody’s Father, came from. So, I asked my co-editor, Lynne Van Luven, to share her inspiration for the series:

I consider both anthologies to be conversations between  contributors and  readers. I’ve always thought the strength of anthologies is that they collect a variety of viewpoints and modes of expression in one publication, allowing readers to make whatever they wish of the resulting melange.

So, it’s somewhat ironic that the impetus for Nobody’s Mother was a conversation I could not enter. A few months after I began teaching at the University of Victoria, I was invited to lunch by a couple of female colleagues. Theirs was a welcoming gesture to a newcomer, yet the two of them spent the entire lunch — more than an hour — trading tales about their children. As the lunch ground on, and I munched stoically away at my spinach salad, I began to tire of the tales of their teenaged progeny. In fact, I sorely wished the topic would shift.

However, instead of interrupting,  I decided to conduct a mini-social experiment: I would not enter the conversation until they invited me into it by asking about MY children or lack thereof. They never did. These two intelligent women seemed oblivious to the fact that a third party at their table — someone not usually taciturn — sat mutely for over an hour.  

I did not make an issue of their rudeness, and we parted on friendly terms. But the experience left me both annoyed and  baffled: for whom was the Momist performance, a veritable glissando of child-exploits, meant?Were the two women in some strange competition with each other? Or were they bent upon showing me what I had missed by not having children? Not that they had even bothered to inquire….

I had long been conscious of being in the minority as a childless woman, but I now felt galvanized: no doubt other “unchilded” women had similar tales to tell. And I would make it my business to seek them out. And thus was the idea for Nobody’s Mother conceived. I was ecstatic when the editors at TouchWood Editions said they wanted the book.

Nobody’s Father came out of quite a different place — out of curiosity. I wanted  to see if men without children shared any of the feelings reported by childless women. I began to suspect they did in the Fall of 2006, while I was promoting Nobody’s Mother in an English class at the University of Alberta, where I was once a graduate student myself. Afterwards, a young man approached me to ask, “Will there be a men’s book?” I told him I hoped so.  

“We’re under pressure too,” he said. “I come from a farming family and neither my girlfriend nor I want children. My dad just can’t believe it. He keeps saying that I have to have kids, have to have a son, or it will be the end of the family line.”  

And so Bruce Gillespie and I began our quest for essays from men who had stories to tell  about not being fathers. The 23 essays in Nobody’s Father are the “men’s book” the young Albertan asked for.

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Written by bgillesp

September 19, 2008 at 4:02 pm

Posted in Nobody's Father

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