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Five Artist-Mothers Talk About Their Experiences

THE following excerpts are from the book "A Question of Balance: Artists and Writers on Motherhood," by Judith Pierce Rosenberg, (Papier-Mache Press, 276 pp., $14).

Linda Vallejo, sculptor, two children:

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"You have to set up a real schedule .... If four hours a week is all you can get, that's your creative time, you stick with that. If you're doing eighteen things in one day, you won't make art."

Alicia Suskin Ostriker, poet, three children:

"I have found that the writing I've done about family, about my children, is often the work that audiences are most engaged with and most responsive to.... These are the themes which speak universally to audiences and to readers."

Elizabeth Murray, painter, three children:

"I don't think for a second that having kids has done anything but open and widen the potential for my art. Even though it's taken away time, I don't think it stopped one painting from happening."

Jane Yolen, writer, three children:

"If you have to make a choice, if you say, 'Oh, well, I'm going to put away the writing until my children are grown,' then you don't really want to be a writer. If you want to be a writer, you do your writing.... Whether it's when everyone's asleep at night, getting up really early in the morning, doing it with the baby in a pack on your stomach, in a pack on your back, you do it. And if you don't do it, you probably don't really want to be a writer, you just want to have written and be famous - which is very different."

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Rosellen Brown, novelist, two daughters:

"The question is there to be asked among artists, writers: Which lasts longer - the words or the perfect dusting? And I do not opt for the perfect dusting. The house is clean enough, it's neat enough, but I do it around the edges. Nothing else would have got done if I'd done that first, believe me."

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