Susan O'Doherty

Susan O'Doherty, Ph.D. ( is a writer and clinical psychologist who specializes in the creative process. Her stories and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Mama, Ph.D. She is the author of Getting Unstuck without Coming Unglued: A Woman's Guide to Unblocking Creativity (Seal, 2007). Her popular advice column for writers, "The Doctor is In," appears each Friday on Buzz, Balls & Hype.

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July 1, 2012
Jill at Feministe linked to Nora Ephron's 1996 commencement address at Wellesley. The entire speech is worth reading, but this passage struck me as particularly relevant, despite some dated references:
June 24, 2012
On the eve of his high school graduation, Ben told me he had a recurring fear that his diploma would actually be the blank sheet that the principal hands students who have not completed graduation requirements, but wish to walk with their class. I assured him that if he was missing or failing something, I would know about it — but in the event, we both checked.
June 17, 2012
As of this writing, Ben will graduate from high school in four days. On the one hand, this doesn't feel like a big deal — he, and most of his close friends, will stay in the city for college and continue to live at home, so it's not that different from being promoted to the next grade. On the other hand, of course, it is huge. In important ways, this  ritual marks the official end of his childhood, and of his emotional dependence on his father and me.
June 10, 2012
Last weekend, I traveled to Virginia to visit my first college roommate. As described here, I took an instant dislike to Peg based on such substantial attributes as her slender good looks and nice wardrobe, and the fact that my mother approved of her. Thanks to her decency and good sense, I was eventually able to see past my ridiculous prejudices, and we became good and lasting friends.
June 3, 2012
We've paid the deposit on Ben's cap and gown, so it looks like this is really going to happen. In just a few weeks he will have completed the journey he began on his first day of kindergarten. I cried then, and I'm sure there will be plenty of tears shed when he accepts his diploma, as well.
May 20, 2012
A few years ago, I took a 2-hour music improv workshop at the school where I was studying straight (acting) improv. The teacher, Rob, was first rate, fun and supportive, but were all terrified. (Of course there was no objective danger, but as we know, people tend to be more afraid of public speaking than of death, so imagine the terror involved in spontaneous singing in front of a group of strangers.) A few people abstained from singing through the entire class, which they had paid for, waiting for courage that never came. I forced myself to participate, but it was a real stretch. The payoff was enormous, though. I felt I was exploring areas of my brain that I had not known were there.
May 13, 2012
Several weeks ago, I sat through a play that was three hours long, with no intermission. The friend I went with joked that the omission must have been a strategic decision on the director's part, because if they had let us out, surely nobody would have come back in. I didn't blame the playwright. She was obviously impassioned about the subject matter, and assumed that everyone else would be, too. Maybe she had exercised great restraint in cutting it back from five or six hours. But at some point, someone should have intervened.
May 6, 2012
This week, The New York Times is running a series on the benefits and pitfalls of attachment parenting in its Room for Debate section, inspired by Elisabeth Badinter's "The Conflict."   For the most part, the essays are thoughtful and measured, and some of them (Erica Jong's and Annie Urban's in particular, I think) discuss important factors in child-rearing.
April 29, 2012
Elizabeth's April 25 post about Nick's uncertain academic future moved me strongly, in part because of the excellent writing and in part because we have had many of those nail-biting moments in Ben's history. He is one of those students who seems destined to give teachers TMJ; a gifted underachiever, as his mother was before him.
April 22, 2012
Over the past eighteen months, Ben has considered, at various times, attending a university in another country; a marvelous but outrageously expensive arts college in North Carolina; and an equally pricy Florida school where he could play baseball year-round.


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