Approaching Motherhood – SRL foreword 24 by Sofia Capel

All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.
/ Sylvia Plath

Sex is a curious thing.One moment you’re having the time of your life, the next, you’re pregnant. But of course, you don’t know it yet. So you reach for your wine glass, take a sip, lean back on his arm and slowly doze off to his sweet nothings. You wake up at 1pm with nothing on your mind. Because it’s Sunday. You’ve got nothing to do and nothing holds you back.

But that nothing is something. It is a space where you exist on your own terms, for your own needs. That nothing is a flatshare above a shop in the cocktail quarter of north London. It is a job that pays the rent but gives you enough time to edit a little lit mag in the evenings. And it is spending your whole salary on makeup and a trip to Japan because you heard Kyoto is beautiful in the spring.

A week goes by and you take the morning train down to Brighton where you spend the whole day drinking in a park. A camera crew from MTV catches you doing the dutty wine and you think ‘I’m too old for this shit but I don’t care’. And in the hiphop tent you twerk so badly you half break your back. When the sun goes down your favourite band from your childhood comes on the big stage and you and the baby’s father dance to ‘Pop Kids’ until it’s time to find your way home.

The weekend after, you get a hunch that something is up. You’re on a camping trip in the Midlands when you decide to show off in front of your new boyfriend and run all the way up a steep hill. When you get to the top you have less than a minute to admire the view, before you throw up for the whole of Shropshire to see. But it’s going to take you another week before you finally pee on that stick. And when those two pink lines appear you know that everything is about to change.


I left London two weeks ago. After 12 years, eight homes and too many mornings spent reading alone in small cafes, we are finally done with each other. Unless you’re rich, it is no place to raise a child, in my opinion. So we have relocated to the seaside. I have left all my friends, my job and my dirty London flat in Kentish Town, along with my 20s. And of course, it has crossed my mind that I have also left my identity in said cocktail quarter. Because having a child changes everything, and if we are what we do, then I have no idea of what I will be.

Among many things, I used to think that I was a writer. But writers write, don’t they? So what then, when they no longer can find the time or energy to write because someone else’s needs will have to come first? And if the time and will to write is there, but no life interesting enough to write about, is there a point in writing at all?

Zadie Smith slaps me out of my existential crisis and crippling self-doubt. According to the British author and mother of two, the idea of motherhood being a threat to creativity is ‘absurd’. In a Lenny interview she states: “{Motherhood} forced me, at least partially, into a secondary position in my own life. Even the simple biological recognition that my daughter is on the way in and I am unavoidably on the way out. And time-wise, it made me very impatient of wasting any. ”

Perhaps dragging myself out of the London smut and the temptations of nothingness was the best thing that could happen to my creativity. We still live in a world where women are the ones expected to sacrifice their careers and life styles when they become mothers, and it is only natural to have doubts and fears about it. But in hindsight, I can see how too much independence and freedom often lead to decadence instead of productivity. This sudden change gives me the opportunity to reinvent myself, and maybe come out a better writer at the end of it.

While I have no intention of wasting time, I will not race against it either. I’m going to take the next year or so to focus on my family and my new life on the South Coast. And that also means taking a break from my role as editor of the Stockholm Review. These three years have been an absolute delight and I look forward to reading the future issues in between breast feedings and nappy changing. Cian will take over from issue 25. I wish him the best of luck!

As I write this, I can see the contours of Dylan’s limbs move under the thin fabric of my dress. He pats the inside of my belly as if to say: “It’s gonna be OK, mamma!” Next month we finally get to meet him. My partner chose his name. It means “from the sea”. I think it has a ring to it!

Cian, Sarvat, Saba and I wish you a happy reading!

Issue 24 features fiction by:

Ashley Goldberg
Helen de Búrca
Rachel Abbott
Kruti Brahmbhatt

and poetry by

Carl Phillips
Debora Vogel in translation by Anastasiya Lyubas
Lel Sebastian
Rosie Gailor