How I became “Great With Child” – Sonia Taitz

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By Sonia Taitz

Every book I write comes from a battle I’m waging in real life. In Great With Child, it’s the conflict between love and ambition. In the novel, Abigail Thomas, a driven young lawyer, becomes sidetracked by an accidental pregnancy – which ends up changing her completely as a person. Abigail’s story (though sexier and far more dramatic) is my own.

For a long time, I’ve wondered about how people become “professionalized” in certain careers. In law school, we were promptly and efficiently taught to “think like lawyers.” This meant being tough, driven, objective, emotionless. A good lawyer took on a case without thinking about right and wrong, and fought to win. That meant leaving behind one’s personal ways of relating to the world.

When I became a mother, though, a great change occurred inside me (bigger than the physical changes, which is saying something). The personal, the unique, the precious, and the loving became more important to me than brains, status, and money. That conflict is front and center in Great With Child.

Why on earth did I decide to become a lawyer in the first place? For that, I have to go back to my origins as the child of immigrants. My parents were Holocaust survivors, and for people in their position, who had lost so much, the children and their careers are everything. In my community (in New York City), every baby was pushed, prodded, encouraged and cajoled to become a doctor, lawyer, accountant, dentist.

My parents wanted me to be secure, to be safe, “to wear the brass buttons,” as my father quaintly put it. They wanted me to stride to my office and accomplish great things in it. Yes, I would have children, they thought – but that would be part of my life, an adjunct. And if I wanted to write, well, I could do that on the side, as a hobby.

By the time I became a lawyer, the world had caught up with both my parents’ feminism and their dream of my “having it all”. But I wasn’t happy as a striding “brass button” wearer. I didn’t like the power I had to change lives (often for the worse), and I didn’t like the blind dedication my peers showed to their career.

The massive ambition I was burdened by pre-babies magically lifted when I started to love others more than myself. And so I turned from law – which is still, largely, a man’s world of pressured, billable hours and rigid rules – to the creative art of writing, which can more easily accommodate a parent’s schedule.

I feel lucky to be a writer. It’s a hard life in a sense, isolated, needing the discipline of a self-imposed schedule, and guaranteeing no sure outcome (and a wan paycheck). You put your heart and essence into something, and send it out, naked, into the public. But writing, like parenting, is one of the most loving callings. You do it to give and to share what is the best of you, born of birthing pains that no epidural can mask. What makes it worthwhile? It is the chance that you may have enriched the world in the end, the chance that even one reader’s life will become greater, or more meaningful, because of what you wrote.

Sonia Taitz is the author of five books, including the prize-winning memoir, In The King’s Arms. Her work has been praised by The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and People, among others. Great With Child is out now.

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