I asked Cecilia Rodriguez Milanes to share some of her mother/writer thoughts as part of #motherswhowrite this week. She is a professor at the University of Central Florida and author of Marielitos, Balseros and other Exiles, a short story collection. Read more about her on her site.
I met Cecilia while I was a graduate student at UCF. She’s a great professor and writer and another one of the authors who is getting the work done while raising a family.
Tell us about your family.
My family of four people plus three dogs (all adorable rescue mutts) has lived in East Orlando since 1999 where my husband has cousins who settled here in the 1950s. I have been married for 28 years and my 22 year-old daughter just graduated from the University of Central Florida with an Anthropology BA and is headed off to a PhD program in the fall. My son is still in elementary school and shares my passion for reading; he’s a good writer too. Most of my extended family lives in South Florida so we’re lucky we can visit regularly.
What is the most creative thing you’ve done to create writing time?
Get up at 5:00 a.m.–I don’t think it’s creative but it is a way to be productive before anything else gets my time and attention. One of my favorite authors, Judith Ortiz Cofer, wrote about it her early morning ritual writing time and I adopted the practice. Lots of women writers/mothers write in the early morning; my other favorite author Toni Morrison still writes in the predawn.
How has being a parent informed your writing?
Being a parent is a huge and important responsibility so I try to prioritize all that I hope to accomplish each day. I think becoming a mother made me more productive in a way because I learned to be extremely efficient with my time; whatever I write, I also feel responsible to make them proud.
Do you write specifically for your children? In other words do/did you write stories, poems for them?
I write for them, for my family, for my community. Each child has poems about/for him/her. They haven’t appeared in the fiction yet; that might be telling too much.
What stories or books about mothers ( or featuring mothers) are among your favorites?
The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan is fierce but Morrison’s mothers are always fascinating and memorable; from Pauline in The Bluest Eye and Sethe in Beloved to Mina Mae in A Mercy
What are you looking forward to this year as a mother and as a writer?
I am looking forward to finally, finally finishing the novel I started so many years ago. Lately though I’ve been writing some new short stories that I’m excited about and hope to finish before my son gets out of school. He enjoys day camp but we like to go to the movies and theme parks, but we all love the beach and plan on taking advantage of our proximity to it this summer.