Chicago Author & Playwright Keely Flynn Talks About Life Beyond the Picket Fence

I am so thrilled to share the Q&A I recently conducted with Chicago author and playwright, Keely Flynn. With a number of successful plays behind her and a book in the works, Keely is showing that yes, even married moms can rock the artistic world. See here how she compares buying a home to having a baby, why 20 and 30- somethings have it rough, and how what a woman says during a C-section can never be held against her. Ever.

keely-flynn1. I've seen your thought-provoking and hilarious play, "Girlfriend," and have now read excerpts from your book, "Expecting." Both focus on strong, independent, yet vulnerable and imperfect women. Has this been your goal, to bring voice to real women during critical junctures of our lives?

Sure! Let's go ahead and say that it was an intelligently plotted-out goal, to champion this age and stage. In actuality, it's much fairer to admit that what I write about is what my friends and I were – and are – experiencing.

Like so many of my peers, I have been given the opportunity to pursue just about any artistic or academic pursuit. No one really blinks an eye anymore if a woman chooses to do something creative. But what happens when that same woman decides that she wants the picket fence and the 2.5 kids? There's almost this social guilt, like I need to apologize and list of all of the tangible achievements I earned with my degree and with my time, even after becoming a mom.

Add to this mix a high percentage 20- and 30-somethings who are tuned in to the news all day but who still live at home, and you've got a fascinating cohort of brilliant yet reality-stunted gals who have no idea what they're supposed to do with their lives. No idea what they want to do, but a certainty that whatever it is should have a global impact. Or maybe I'm just assuming that everyone else feels that way, too.

2.  When I saw the title, "Expecting," I figured you'd jump immediately into your experience of motherhood, but instead what seems to loom large for you is the idea and the physical reality of a purchasing your first home with your husband. Is home ownership similar to becoming a mother?

My husband and I both grew up in tight-knit families with the traditional homestead, where we all still descend at the holidays. So buying a home and having kids were part of our joint vision of "adulthood."  For me, "expecting" means the pursuit of how our futures are supposed to unfold; the way we've always been told things happen when you're a "grown-up."

But maybe the fact that I keep putting those words in quotes means I can’t help but think of them as hilariously foreign concepts. The word "grownup" still evokes an image of wearing my Dad's suit coat and tromping around in my mother's heels. (Please put me in charge of something, I'm clearly a responsible human being.)

3.  There are some very raw and tender moments in "Expecting." What made you decide to share your experience of crossing the threshold into adulthood, with all of its responsibilities?

The initial impetus was that I knew my stories were funny in a way that would resonate with others. I mean, who buys a house that needs thousands upon thousands of dollars in renovations, only to be more transfixed with the possibility of it being haunted? Who deals with a rat in such a crazy way?

I also wanted to share how becoming a mom is humbling. Even though I’d been a nanny, I could not believe how ill equipped and inexperienced I felt with my own newborn. The first year of marriage, motherhood, and homeownership passed in a rapid-fire series of off-the-wall events, and I found myself wondering when I'd feel normal. Which, as it turns out, is not a thing. A funny cautionary tale, is that a genre yet?

4.  I don't think I've ever heard someone declare that she wants eight kids in the minutes after delivering via C-section. Was that the drugs talking?

Oh my goodness, yes. C-section drugs don't mess around. Speaking as a currently pregnant gal, I want to poke that woman in the eye and remind her that she does not, in fact, enjoy pregnancy. Still.

But there was a feeling in that moment that I can still so clearly remember.  After all of the pain and discomfort and fear and doneness of the prior 39 weeks, there was an undeniable euphoria at holding my kid for the first time and realizing that it all worked. Nothing before (or since) has touched that emotion of, "Isn't this wild? Isn't this insane? Why don't we do this all the time?"

And I said the same thing after the birth of my second daughter, so I guess we can chalk it up to a fun combo of biology, drugs and hormonal outbursts. I’ll let you know if I say the same when number three arrives, which should be very soon.

For more on Keely Flynn and her writing, head over to the uproariously fun Lollygag blog.

Don't be a stranger! To get updates when I post here, enter your email address below and click the "create subscription" button. My list is totally spam free and you can opt out at any time. You can also come hang out with me over on Facebook.

Leave a comment