This week, Zoe Fish­man— the author of Sav­ing Ruth, Bal­anc­ing Acts, and her lat­est, Dri­ving Lessons— blogs for The Post­script on her own dri­ving lessons and the quest for some­thing familiar. 

The Post­script series is a spe­cial peek behind the scenes” of a book. It’s a juicy lit­tle extra some­thing to add to a book clubs dis­cus­sion and a read­er’s under­stand­ing of how the book came togeth­er. 

To host” Zoe at your next book club meet­ing, request her through JBC Live Chat

It’s true that the basic premise of Dri­ving Lessons — city slick­er trades in the hus­tle and bus­tle for small­er town liv­ing — was based on my own deci­sion to move south to Atlanta with my hus­band after thir­teen years in New York. True also that my pro­tag­o­nist Sarah’s inabil­i­ty to dri­ve was auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal — I hadn’t been behind the wheel in sev­en­teen years (!) when I arrived. 

I’ll nev­er for­get my first for­ay onto the high­way, with my hus­band in the pas­sen­ger seat. 

I can’t dri­ve!” I plead­ed. It’s been too long and I wasn’t even that good to begin with!”“

No, no, you can do this, you just need prac­tice,” he calm­ly respond­ed, con­vinced that I was exag­ger­at­ing. Let’s go.” 

Need­less to say, arriv­ing safe­ly, not to men­tion still mar­ried, at our des­ti­na­tion via a vir­tu­al sea of dri­ving lanes was no small miracle. 

Unlike Sarah how­ev­er, who is ambiva­lent about moth­er­hood despite what she feels is a tick­ing time bomb of doom sus­pend­ed above her thir­ty-six year old head, I was preg­nant and hap­py to make the tran­si­tion. Rather than fight my way onto the sub­way with a stroller or join a preschool wait­ing list before the start of my sec­ond trimester, I would ges­tate and write; per­haps final­ly learn how to roast a chicken. 

So that’s what I did for the remain­ing months of my preg­nan­cy. I wrote, learned how to cook and cob­bled togeth­er my baby reg­istry with the pre­ci­sion of a neu­ro­sur­geon. Atlanta seemed okay, but I didn’t real­ly know why. I was too busy nest­ing, nap­ping and not dri­ving to say for sure. Oh, those naps. How I miss them! 

And then, my son Ari arrived, and every­thing changed. 

The real­i­ty of my deci­sion — to leave all that I knew and start over some place else as the new Mom­my ver­sion of my for­mer self — proved very dif­fer­ent from what I had imag­ined. In the exhaus­tion of new par­ent­hood, I missed New York’s non­stop ener­gy. I missed my friends. I missed my sched­ule. I missed my favorite restau­rants and bou­tiques and cof­fee shops and bars and well, me. Part of that was of course, post-par­tum nerves and a sleep­less­ness the likes of which I had nev­er known, but the oth­er part was a real sense of yearn­ing for some­thing — any­thing — that felt famil­iar in such unchart­ed ter­ri­to­ry. And to find the famil­iar in Atlanta you have to dri­ve. So, final­ly, with my tiny infant in tow, that’s what I did.

Real­ly, that’s what I want­ed to explore in this book — the yearn­ing for the famil­iar in times of tran­si­tion. Whether it’s moth­er­hood, or a new job or rela­tion­ship, I think all women can relate to ide­al­iz­ing the past when we’re scared about the future. It’s the process of con­quer­ing that fear which helps us rede­fine our present.

Relat­ed Content: 

Zoe Fish­man is the 2020 Geor­gia Author of the Year. She is the best­selling author of five pre­vi­ous nov­els and has won sev­er­al awards includ­ing Book­list’s Top 10 Books of the Year” and an Indi­eNext Pick. She’s been fea­tured on City Lights with Lois Reitzes, and in Pub­lish­ers Week­ly and The Atlanta Jew­ish Times among oth­ers. Her essays have been pub­lished in The New York Times’s Mod­ern Love col­umn, The Atlanta Jour­nal Con­sti­tu­tion, and Mod­ern Loss. Zoe was the Direc­tor of The Decatur Writ­ers Stu­dio and a vis­it­ing writer at SCAD Atlanta. She lives in Decatur with her two sons.