Caitlin Moran, MORE THAN A WOMAN

Caitlin Moran, MORE THAN A WOMAN

Zibby Owens: Welcome, Caitlin. Thank you so much for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.”

Caitlin Moran: It is my absolute pleasure. It is true. Moms don’t have time to do anything. I’m presuming yours are probably doing something dangerous in the kitchen. I don’t even know what mine are doing. They’ve made it to this old and they’re not dead yet. I’ve got to presume I’m doing something right.

Zibby: I have the perk of being divorced, so they’re with my ex-husband right now. I assume that they’re okay, but they could be burning up the kitchen, just not in my house right at this moment.

Caitlin: You’ve got to tell me. I have been married for twenty-five years. Obviously, divorce, traumatic and difficult and all this kind of stuff. At the same time, I am so jealous of my divorced female friends because when the kids are gone with their dad, they’re gone. That time is yours. That seems like a considerable upside on the whole financial, emotional heartbreak thing. That’s a definite up, isn’t it?

Zibby: It is a definite up. I have a teenager daughter like you. She FaceTimes me every twenty minutes or something crazy. She already forgot all her underwear. It’s always something. It’s not like it’s ever done. I’m still coordinating everything. They’re just not right here.

Caitlin: How often do you have this conversation? They go, “Mom, where are my shoes?” You say, “In the coat cupboard.” They go, “I’ve looked there.” You go, “Look again. They’re definitely in the coat cupboard.” Then thirty seconds later you hear, “Oh, yeah. They are.” Look properly the first time. Use your eyes.

Zibby: We have a lot of “where is my phone?” panic. Now the Find my iPhone is constantly going off. More than the phone is the Find my iPhone ring.

Caitlin: Nine times out of ten when they cannot find their phone, they’re sitting on it. You’ll be on the sofa. Then you have to get up. It’s hard to get up once you get to forty-five. I find it quite effortful. I’m like, this is going to be a bit of a job to get off the sofa. Then I’m looking everywhere. Then they stand up, and it’s underneath their bum. They’re like, “Oh, here it is.”

Zibby: Totally, I know. I sit down and I read books on the bed with my son. He’s like, “No, no, not this Mr. Men book. I want that one.” I’m like, oh, gosh, I’ve got to stand up now. Can I hold onto the bunk bed? If I hold onto the bunk bed with my left hand and pull myself up, will my knees hurt less?

Caitlin: You need some advance warning for that. I like to be told a good ten minutes before I’ve got to stand up. I need to prepare for it like some kind of Olympic athlete. I’ve got to make all the ooph sounds. It’s exhausting.

Zibby: Do I do the rollover, try to get up on my side? Should I just go straight up? Sometimes if I pull my knees together, I find it hurts less. I’m trying everything new just to stand up.

Caitlin: When you tell younger women this is what you’ve got to look forward to, they’re like, I don’t want to hear it, I don’t want to hear it. They can spring off a chair and go and dance. I can’t do that anymore. You enjoy it while you can, ladies.

Zibby: We’re not even old. I feel like we’re the same age. I’m about to be forty-five. You’re similar at…?

Caitlin: Forty-five.

Zibby: It’s not like we’re eighty-year-old women sitting having this conversation. It happens really fast.

Caitlin: It’s because you spend so many years hunched over breastfeeding and then hunched over a laptop that actually, standing up is quite a rare event. You just lose that ability quite quickly.

Zibby: It’s true. To your question about how great it is, the perks of divorce here, your chapter on when your kids go to school — what did you call it? It was so clever. The whole thing was amazing, how you’re basically a drug addict beholden to your children. Oh, called The Hour of Missing Children, could not have been more apt. I read it. I underlined it. Then I print out some pages. Then I read it again. It’s amazing. It’s so good and so true. No one’s thought of it that way. It seems so obvious. Tell me about this whole thing, the drug addict model, even the Superman/superhero model, all of this.

Caitlin: It’s so weird. As a female writer and stuff and writing about being a woman, when I actually look around at the amount of stuff that’s written about motherhood, it’ll either be practical advice like this is how you put them to sleep and make them have this mashed carrot or it’ll be a traumatic memoir about how painful a birth was. I’ve done both those things. That’s fair enough. No one ever writes about the emotional, creative, psychedelic, physical, druggie aspect of being a mother. It’s a crazy thing. It’s because it’s women. In the years where you can remember what it’s like, you’re too busy being a mother. Then by the time you’d have time to write about this, then you’ve forgotten it because you forget everything. It really occurred to me that when my kids were little that I just couldn’t wait for them to leave. You need to go to school so I can do literally everything before you come back. You’re already not at school long enough for me to do everything I need to do. I’m working real fast here.

Then within two and a half hours of them leaving, I’d go to the toilet and then I’d find myself, without even consciously thinking about it, getting into their little bed and sniffing where their head had been on the pillow and picking up a little toy that now suddenly seems so sad, now a child isn’t playing with it, and being really tearful and going, I miss them, like physically miss them. I need to smell them. I need to touch their stuff. I just started thinking, our kids are our drugs. We are physically addicted to them. It is a chemical process. Getting pregnant is a chemical process. Breastfeeding, growing a baby, giving birth, it’s oxytocin and all these hormones and estrogen and all this stuff. That continues all the way through motherhood. When you hug your baby or your child or even your teenager, you sniff them and you get high and relaxed off it. When they’re gone, after two and a half hours you are like a junkie just clucking going, need to smell the baby smell. Feel really tense now. Just need to sniff the baby. We find ourselves doing this. Again, so little is written about the weirdness and wiggy-ness of the emotional aspect to being a mother. I was just thinking, obviously if men got pregnant and had babies, we would have movies about it all over the shop. It’s basically like Alice in Wonderland. You take on this magic substance, sperm. Then your body changes. You grow an extra organ. You’ve suddenly got these superpowers. You can stay up for five nights straight looking after a baby and then get your work done. All you want to do is save the kids. You’re utterly selfless. Everything is about saving the kids. I said, why aren’t there any films about this? There’s no films about what it’s actually like, this psychic quest that you go on as a mother.

I suddenly went, hang on, this is basically the plot to all superhero movies. The superhero takes on this magical substance, in our case, sperm. In their case, a radioactive asteroid or gets bitten by a spider. Then their body changes. Suddenly, instead of producing — we produce milk. They produce web out of their wrists. They’re suddenly strong and superhuman. All they want to do is, in our case, save the baby, and in superheroes’ cases, save mankind. Also, the other thing is with all superheroes is that humankind having been rescued by the superhero over and over again is never grateful. You are a secret superhero. You never get the thanks. All of New York doesn’t go, thanks, the Hulk, for saving us. You get no credit at all. That’s being a mother. You’re constantly saving the world over and over again. The kids never go, wow, that must have been hard. Well done. I realized that Hollywood has basically taken the whole story of motherhood and just given it to usually teenage or young white men and made it superhero movies instead. They’ve just carefully disguised a couple of the little details. They’re telling our story with Spidermans and Batmans. That’s not fair. We did that. That’s our story.

Zibby: Co-opting the story of motherhood, Marvel Comics, watch out. Lawsuit pending.

Caitlin: They have appropriated the thing we do. It’s so unfair.

Zibby: It’s so funny. Your whole thing about the chemical and smelling, I literally posted on Instagram like two weeks ago the last time my kids were gone about how I picked up my daughter’s little fluffy pink slippers at the bottom of the stairs and just sadly — also, to your point about things left at the bottom of the stairs, when I’m home with just my husband, I have to carry this stuff upstairs. Anyway, I put them into her bedroom and plopped them down. It’s just the saddest feeling. Yet as soon as they come back, within a minute it’s gone. I’m like, okay, when are they going again?

Caitlin: Literally, that. The process of being particularly a mother is constantly either saying go away or come back. That’s it. The only other people who do that are shepherds with their sheep. It’s that constant, go away, come back, go away, come back again. That’s what we are. We’re shepherds just telling our children to go away and then come back. Mommy misses you.

Zibby: I just wanted to read what you wrote in the beginning of this chapter. You wrote, “Five hours, that’s all it takes, just five hours. At eight thirty AM, I am desperate for the children to leave home. By one PM, I miss them again. This is the push and pull of young children, wishing them away, wishing them back again. It’s either too much or never enough. Parenting small children often makes you feel like Richard Burton married to Elizabeth Taylor. She drives you to distraction when you’re with her, always wanting things, always arguing, always creating drama. But every time you get divorced, you end up staring out of the window sighing, you know what, I miss that crazy bitch. It’s no fun without her. Both your child and Elizabeth Taylor are the most beautiful things in the world.” Then you say, “I leave my laptop to go to the loo, and afterward, without even realizing what I’m doing, I find my wandering into the girls’ bedroom like a lovesick homing pigeon.”

Caitlin: Right? That’s it. The whole thing about parenting is none of it makes any sense at the time. It doesn’t work. All the way, particularly with small children, you’re going, this doesn’t work. Yet you make it happen every day. You just never really properly make sense of it. That was one of the pleasures of being a writer. My job is to think about this stuff and write it down, being able to go, women with small children, I see you. I know what you’re going through. I’m going to put it in a book because you don’t have time to do that. That’s my job, so I’m going to do that for you.

Zibby: I know you mentioned Jerry Seinfeld in your book with the whole, men are not really thinking about anything. They’re just wandering around picking things up. Literally, that’s the end of the inner dialogue. I feel like you are like the female Jerry Seinfeld. You are so funny in terms of all the observational humor and a new way of thinking about everything. I was just like, this is perfect. You’re like the Seinfeld for women. It’s perfect. Not that he’s not for women, but you know.

Caitlin: I will take that. Thank you. One of the reasons that I write what I do, the TV shows and the movies and the books and stuff, is that so much of women’s lives just isn’t written about. We’re too busy doing it at the time. Still, the things that are thought to be women’s things and a women’s world, it’s a combination of boring and so ordinary. There’s no need to write about it. That seems to be the general cultural feeling. It’s like, no, we are literally making the people that will populate the earth. Without us, it all just ends quite quickly. There is no bigger job on earth than being a mother and making children inside you and then just getting them to adulthood without them falling off a cliff. We deserve a couple of books about that. We’re really busy. We’ve worked really hard. Why doesn’t anyone just turn around and go, I see you, thank you?

Zibby: You pointed out in your book so many times, all the other books that should’ve been written that weren’t. You were trying to tackle them all, even about caring for aging parents and what it’s like to suddenly be in that role. Why are people not writing books about this? This is a huge life shift that everybody has to deal with. Yet nobody’s really talking about it all that much.

Caitlin: Totally. The weird thing when your parents start getting frail and then when they start dying is that you suddenly become top of the family tree. They have been the matriarch and the patriarch, and you are the child. When they get frail and ill and then when they die, they become the children. You’re looking after them. Suddenly, you’ve got to climb to the top of the family tree. You’re suddenly the matriarch in charge of the rest of the family. I don’t know if it’s your experience, but I’ve generally found that it’s my female friends that have to go and look after the aging parents. For some reason, brothers are just like, you’re better at that, or I’m too busy. You’re like, I’m not busy? They’re just like, it feels like that’s a woman’s thing. You should deal with that. We talk about it in terms of or . It’s very common to have small children and ailing parents at the same time. Then you’re still trying to be a human being with a job and a relationship and friends in the middle of that. We are just squeezed. We are extraordinary. We deal with this. No one notices it. No one thanks us. No one pays us. I just felt constantly when I was writing this book, I always have this thing that I’m just putting my arms around women going, mate, this is hard, isn’t it? I see you. I’m going to write down what you’re doing so people know how brave and brilliant you were at this time. I see that as my job, to just say to women, I see you. You’re amazing. You’re doing so well. Carry on.

Zibby: This is the book I want to give to every girlfriend that I have. It is so spot on. I feel like being in our mid-forties, there’s suddenly no guidebook. I don’t know what I’m doing half the time. I have to say, your book was so funny. I was laughing out loud at parts. Then when you went into all the struggles you were having with your daughter and her eating disorder, oh, my gosh, I couldn’t believe it. Then I’m crying over your book. I couldn’t believe it and all the stuff you’ve had to go through. Every parent has something that they’re out of control with their kids. All you want to do is take on the pain yourself, but you can’t.

Caitlin: That’s where it goes wrong as well. It’s so great getting to forty-five because you can look back and go, where did I make mistakes? How could I have learned? Is there any knowledge I could pass on with my daughters? I was, I would say, briskly badly parented. People ask me what my parents’ parenting technique was. I say it was basically that of salmon. They spawned extravagantly. They laid all their eggs. Then they just sawm away. My parents had eight kids in very quick succession. Then that was it. We were not parented again. I cobbled together a personality based mainly around watching classic musicals staring Judy Garland. What Judy Garland taught me was that whatever your problems are, you stay cheerful. You crush all your bad emotions down and you just crack on and do your thing. That has worked very well for me and got to me to where I am.

As a parent, that became a weakness because if you’ve got girls, or boys but I’ve got two girls, you are sad and anxious. You keep making a joke or singing a silly song or, come on, just crack on, just crush all your emotions down and it’ll all be fine. There comes a point if they are very sad and very unhappy and very anxious where that becomes quite dangerous. In my daughter’s case, it metastasized into an eating disorder. I realize now that’s kind of like a communication. If you are not taking this unhappiness seriously, then if it became a medical thing, then you will hear that I am sad. It took me a long time to realize that, for the first year and a half of her illness, that I was scared of her sadness and her anxiety and her depression. I was trying to make it to away. I was just saying to her, come on, just make yourself better. She couldn’t. That was a huge thing that I had to learn, to sit down and go, I’m not scared of your sadness. I’m not scared of your depression. I’m not scared of your anxiety. We’re going to do this together. Do you need to hear me say that I love you no matter what is happening here? I’m going to say that. We are going to do this together. Once I’d learned that, then she started to recover. Now she’s fully well, touch wood, and incredible.

That was another reason why I wanted to write about it in the book. I think particularly for people of our generation, eating disorders were quite secret and shameful. Any mental illness was not spoken about in our generation. Her generation, they don’t have that stigma. They talk about it. When I started to write the book, she was like, “Please write about my illness. I want you to be able to put that advice in there for other parents. You would be able to help. It’s not a secret. It’s not shameful. I was ill. It was the same as breaking a leg. You would want to put advice for how to treat a broken leg in a book if you knew how to do that. Then it’s exactly the same here. See if you can help other people.” It was definitely the hardest thing that I have done without a shadow of a doubt in my life. Those three and a half years were brutal. I was frequently on my knees with it because you’re so racked with shame. If you don’t know how to help your kid, there is no failure like a child that won’t eat. That’s the most fundamental thing that we want to do. As soon as your baby’s born, you feed it. To suddenly have a child that’s going, no, I will not eat, it’s just like being electrocuted constantly. You can’t handle the pain of it and the worry of it.

Thankfully, we had a happy ending. I wanted to write about it because also when I was trying to find books about eating disorders, every one that I found had a sad ending. They were, she didn’t recover, I’m still ill. If you are lucky enough to have a happy story, put that out there and give people hope because god know you need it if you’re dealing with that. If anyone out there is dealing with it, I absolutely salute you. There’s a book by a woman called Eva Musby which gives you scripts of how to deal with an ill child, things that you need to say. You can’t parent them anymore. You have to be a mental health professional. She gives you scripts of what to say. The transformation when you say the right things is extraordinary. I would heartily recommend that if anybody’s unfortunate enough to be going through that right now.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh. That’s the thing with parenting. Whatever gets thrown your way, you have to adapt. I interviewed a women’s whose daughter was born with a developmental disorder. She was like, then I had to learn how to become an occupation therapist. As you’re saying, you then had to become a mental health professional. Whatever your child needs, you have to learn that skill set. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. You can’t even think about it.

Caitlin: The state of being a parent is, it’s the one thing you cannot walk away from. You do it every day without a break. Every day you have to turn up and do this stuff. There are no days off. It’s every day for the rest of you’re life. There’s a bit in the book where I talk about how before you have kids you have no conception how long it will take. You’re just kind of like, I’m sure I’ll cope with it. Then you get five years into it. You’re like, this is going to go on forever. There’s one bit where I go, if I now type the word long and I just put so many O’s that it fills the entire book, an entire book just full of O’s, long, that’s still not even one thousandth of how long it takes to be a parent. It’s so incalculably long. It’s an endurance sport, parenting.

Zibby: I know. I loved that. I was just thinking you should have this little companion piece where you literally put just the O in the book.

Caitlin: There were days when I was writing the book, I thought, could I just keep my finger on the O? That could be the book. I could finish that quite quickly. Cut and paste, bang, we’re done. No, I put other words in there as well. There are 87,000 other words other than the word long.

Zibby: You also had so much — and thank you. I feel like I didn’t properly acknowledge your talking about your daughter. Thank you for sharing it. Thank you to her for sharing it. Thanks for offering up your story which is quite personal and emotional to help other people. I think that’s the biggest gift we can give others as parents, as women. Just sharing our stories is the key to sanity for everybody. Helping others, it’s all we can do.

Caitlin: Literally, if you’re going to go through that, then what is the one good thing that you could do that would turn the negative into a positive? Just tell people what you learned. Just hope that you make their illness one day shorter, make one day a bit better. If you’re doing that, then it’s not worth it, but at least you managed to find something good in the horror.

Zibby: Thank you. Thank her too. It’s really beautiful of her to share it. Back to the funny stuff for a second, you also wrote about marriage, particular long-term marriage, in a more brilliant, funny way than I’ve read about ever, especially the fact that people don’t talk about their marriages. Once you’re in a marriage, you just sort of stop talking about it. You said, “You have become replete and also silent now. Once the door has closed on the marital house, no reports can emanate from it. If the marriage is good, then the marriage must also be silent. That is one of the rules. You do not gossip. You do not share. A good marriage is mysterious to everyone around it. What happens in there? Who are those people who walked into it on their wedding day and then pulled up the drawbridge? If a marriage is successful, you walk in there in your teens, twenties, or thirties, and then only come out again in a coffin, the partner who outlived you standing there waving goodbye.” Then you said, “For we don’t write novels about long and happy marriages. We have big blockbuster stories on how to raise children. We don’t show the endless everyday business of domestica. We have no template for that.”

Caitlin: Right. Again, when I started thinking that — so this is a sequel to the first book, How to be a Woman, which is about your younger years of making yourself. When I finished that, I thought, that’s it. All the hard years are done. The rest of it’s going to be really easy. I know everything. I’ve put it all in this book. I am done. Then ten years later, you’re like, no, no one talks about middle age. Particularly since the book came out, we know about younger women’s lives now. We’ve got Girls. We’ve got Fleabag. It’s all about hot messes and masturbation and pubic hair and having to get an abortion and bad luck love affairs and stuff. We know quite well what a young modern woman’s life is like now and the problems and joys of that. Then suddenly, it just stops. If you are in a successful relationship, I’d walk down the street and you go past every single door and you’re like, what is going on in there? There are adventures in there as epic as any ring quest in Lord of the Rings. People, they are battling demons. They are facing heartbreak and joy. They are having to be a team. It’s a business.

We are supposed to be silent about this. It’s seen as disloyal to talk about a marriage. I just wanted to throw all these doors open, the format of the book is twenty-four hours in the life of an average middle-aged woman, and just go, what is happening every hour? What are you dealing with every hour? How are you making this work? What is making it difficult? To just be honest about that process, once you’ve realized that you’re writing about something that other people generally haven’t written about, it’s so exciting. Anything you put in there, people are going, yep, that was me. Oh, my god, I can’t believe you said that. I didn’t even know you were allowed to say that. When I was talking about sex in a long-term relationship, even I was going, is that disloyal to my husband? Am I breaking some kind of marriage code to talk about how difficult it is to keep an exciting sex life going over twenty-five years? All the advice that you’re given, it’s generally for a younger woman. It’s all the, have you tried spanking and sending texts? First of all, if you and your husband or long-term partner are spanking each other and you’ve got children in the house, you will hear a scared voice on the other side of the door going, what’s that clapping sound? Mommy, I’m scared.

If you’re sending each other illicit texts, then almost every family has it that their phone is linked to another device in the house. Suddenly, you’ve got a scared child who’s watching Peppa Pig going, Mommy, a text has come up and it looks like it’s two hams pressed together. You’re like, no, I shouldn’t have sent that belfie. That was wrong. Particularly women are supposed to be endlessly inventive and questing in their sex lives and bringing grapefruit and whips and all this kind of stuff. That completely misunderstands the average heterosexual man who’s just happy to have some sex. If there’s a naked lady in front of him and he’s got twenty minutes with her, more than nine times out of ten he’s going to be perfectly happy with that. Instead, we’re like, I need to put the spice back into my relationship. If you try and put your spice back into a twenty-five-year-long relationship, it’s going to be terrifying. We tried roleplay. I was like, could you be a naughty sexy pirate? If my husband were a famous character actor, if it was James Gandolfini or Mark Rylance, then maybe he would’ve workshopped that character and it would’ve been good. The accent was questionable. He kept saying, what’s my motivation? You can’t suddenly start being sexy pirates twenty-five years into a relationship, and you don’t need to. You don’t need to. Just have a normal, straightforward shag. It’s perfectly fine. I relieve you all of the responsibility of having an exciting sex life. It’s just twenty-five minutes. Say thank you to each other at the end of it. On with the rest of the day. It’s done.

Zibby: Everyone can take their eye patches and just chuck them over their shoulders.

Caitlin: It’s not going to work.

Zibby: Caitlin, how did you even get into writing? How did you begin this journey in your life? Did you know you wanted to write? How did this all happen for you?

Caitlin: I read a lot as a kid. My parents were very clever. They were generally terrible parents, but they did one clever thing. They had a suitcase under the bed that was full of classic children’s books like Anne of Green Gables and Little Women stuff. From a very early age, they were like, “You’re too young to read those yet. When you’re old enough, you’ll be able to read these,” and so made books seem like this incredible thing that one day I’d be clever and special enough to read. When they finally opened the suitcase and went, “You can read these,” it was like, now I feel honored. This is the good stuff. Usually if you’re a writer, you’re a reader. I think it’s a bit like the digestive system. If you put enough words into you, then you probably start pooing them out. I don’t want to give away the magic of what writing is. You read something and you either go, I disagree with that, now I’ve got something to write, or you go, they were so right. When it happened to me, it was like that. I want to write my version of this. To be chin-stroke-y for a minute, if you’re a writer, you’re in a constant conversation with all the other writers that have been before. You just want to join in their game and go, I could do that too.

We were home educated. We didn’t go to school. By the time I was thirteen, it was very apparent to me that with no qualifications and no schooling I would probably have to work out what my job would be and then get on with it on my own, so I just started writing a book when I was thirteen. I finished it when I was fifteen, it’s a children’s novel, and sent it off. It got published. There were a couple of interviews with me at the time because it was like, a teenager has written a book. The Times newspaper saw the interview and asked me if I wanted to write some pieces for them. I said yes. They gave me a column. By that point, I was seventeen. They gave me a column, which I now realize isn’t the normal way that you get a job. I was also working as a rock critic on a music magazine at the time. I was still living at home. By night, I’d be at a gig smoking cigarettes and drinking cider and hanging out at rockstars’. Then at half past eleven, I’d creep home, get into the bed that I shared with my little brother because we didn’t have our own beds, and then wake up in the morning, write the review, look after the kids, and then that night go off and be in the world of rock and roll again. It was quite unusual. It’s not a template that I think anybody else could follow, so it’s kind of useless me telling you. That is how I did it.

Zibby: I don’t think it’s useless. It’s highly entertaining. Then what came next? You had the column. Then what?

Caitlin: I had my kids really, really young. I’d met my husband when I was seventeen. Thank god that was one problem that I didn’t have to worry about. We had kids really young. I was twenty-four and then twenty-six. I was just writing the column on The Times for ten years. You don’t realize how long a minute or an hour or a day is until you have to sit under a child and not move. The first thing that I learned from breastfeeding other than it hurt was that as soon as I didn’t have to have a sleeping child on me, I would do stuff. I was not going to waste any more time. The first day the youngest one went to school, I was like, I’m going to do stuff. That was when I started writing How to be a Woman, which was sort of trying to explain feminism to a young generation and tell dirty, funny stories about life. Then I did a couple of novels. I did a TV series about my childhood. I’ve just done the film of one of the novels, How to Build a Girl, starring Beanie Feldstein who is an absolute delight. She plays the teenage me. She’s better at being the teenage me than I was. We have a little WhatsApp group. She’s as obsessed with dogs as I am. Whenever we see a cute dog, we take pictures of it and send it to each other like, this is a good dog. Look at this noble fellow. This is an adorable one. It’s a pretty sweet life, I have to say. At forty-five I’m like, wow, if I could tell my thirteen-year-old self that it was going to work out this well, I’d be pretty pleased. I would be, certainly, less anxious.

Zibby: Do you have any advice to people who might not have this fall into their lap? Not that you didn’t earn it, not that you haven’t earned it. You’re incredibly .

Caitlin: I was so lucky. It was a much easier time to be a writer and get paid. Everyone can be a writer now because you can blog, but you don’t get paid for it. There’s necessarily a class barrier now. If you’re young and you’ve got parents who can support you, you can write full time. You can blog full time. If you have to get a job, then you’re not going to start writing until you get home probably quite tired and start writing. There’s an immediate class and economic barrier put to writing these days, which is sad. If you are a writer, it took me quite a while to realize that if you’re writing what you think — you look at the game and you go, this is what everyone’s writing about. That’s what a column would look like or a book would look like. I should do something like that. If you do that, you’re trying to get into a very crowded field. You’re going to have to be absolutely excellent to compete with people who are already established and have contacts. If you do this thing where you turn 180 degrees and go, what aren’t people writing about? Where’s the gap in the market? Where is the silence? Where are the taboos? Where are the stories that aren’t being told? Suddenly, you’re going to be more in demand. You’ve got more of a market value because no one else is doing that.

That’s where things that would often be seen as a disadvantage, like being of color, being LGBTQ, writing about middle age, whatever it is, become an advantage because those are areas that are not serviced that well. We don’t have that many writers talking about those things or those kind of lives. Once you see that what you might perceive as your weakness is actually your strength, then hopefully that will give you the courage to go, no, I will be doing something useful if I write. That’s a lovely thing to think of as a writer. You’re not being indulgent. It’s not like writing poetry and hoping people will cry. You’re going, no, I’m being useful. I’m going to tell people things. I’m going to ask questions. I’m going to try and work out why these things happens. I have a purpose now. Once you feel as a writer that you’ve got a purpose, so long as you are determined enough, you will find an audience in the end because people like you will need to hear your stories because no one else is telling them. You’ve got to be resilient. Whatever you think is your weakness is your strength. People need what you are going to be writing about.

Zibby: I love that. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for coming on this show. I am such a huge fan of yours. Loved this book. Can’t thank you enough. It’s just been such an awesome experience talking to you.

Caitlin: You are absolutely fantastic. I love your bookshelf. It’s giving me such joy. My eyes are so happy looking at it. Thank you so much, darling.

Zibby: You’re welcome. Buh-bye.

Caitlin: Buh-bye.

Caitlin Moran, MORE THAN A WOMAN