How My Mom Made Me a Better Writer

Louise Miller and her momIn celebration of Mother’s Day, the theme this week is Moms—more specifically our theme is My mom is going to read this! We wanted to talk about all the things in our novels we are nervous for our moms to read.

I racked my brain trying to think of something in my book that would make my mom* uncomfortable—believe me, the characters in THE CITY BAKER’S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING do plenty of things a mom wouldn’t be crazy about—but here is the thing: my mom is the least judgmental person I know. She meets people where they are, and is open to absolutely everyone. She truly loves to connect with people. I think this might be the best thing my mom taught me. I try everyday to practice being this open in my life but also in my writing. It is so important to let your characters have flaws, to let them make mistakes, to let them be fully human—and to love them at their worst as well as their best.

There have been excellent studies published recently about how reading fiction can help develop empathy in a person, and I think this is even more true for writers creating fiction. The job of the writer is to be empathetic—to dig as deep as we can into all of our characters, and to try and understand what it means to be human. I feel grateful to my mom for having taught me to be open to others, to be curious, and to let people be who they are.

*If you are a regular reader of the blog you may have guessed that my mom is none other than Carol Rizzo, writer of the worlds nicest and most inspiring comments. Here is my favorite:

"You are my Phoenix..."

Author: Louise Miller

Louise Miller is the author of THE CITY BAKER'S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING (Pamela Dorman Books/Viking/August 9, 2016), the story of a commitment-phobic pastry chef who discovers the meaning of belonging while competing in the cut-throat world of Vermont county fair baking contests. Find out more at

8 Replies to “How My Mom Made Me a Better Writer”

  1. You are my inspiration…..
    I saw a quote that makes me laugh every time I read it. It goes something like this….
    You can’t get to the mountaintop from the top
    You have to climb
    There is blood involved!
    Louise, your my mountain climber!
    I’m so proud of all that you do, and all that you are!

    Love. Mom

  2. “the characters in THE CITY BAKER’S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING do plenty of things a mom wouldn’t be crazy about”

    That would probably depend on the mom. Mine was pretty impossible to shock. I still remember her hoots of laughter watching the movie Kick-Ass.

    She always read my writing, and I never had to worry about anything freaking her out. She was an art historian, and nothing I would ever write could ever match some of the paintings she’d seen.

    I agree about empathy. Roger Ebert once referrred to movies as “empathy machines.” Stories are like that, in books and in films. 🙂

  3. Louise- I love your mom, too! She’s one of my best friends, and she never ceases to see the good in things and uplifts everyone around her. You are so very lucky to have her as you Mom… So many people will never be so blessed to have a one-in-million, truly kind and inspiring parent who loves you but who can also help influence your work!

    Happy Mother’s Day, Everyone!

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