A Guest Post
Moms and Memoirs: Writing down our stories and struggles
It seems the best ideas come to me in the playground. That's where, pushing my one-year-old on the swings, I met another new mother with whom I started a conversation that inspired me to publish my first book, Between Interruptions: 30 Women Tell the Truth about Motherhood. Within just ten minutes, we'd talked about our post-baby identity crisis, our shockingly diminished ambition and our diminished and distressed sex life.
If you'd told me in my pre-baby days the playground would become not only my main networking site, but also a source of inspiration, I would have laughed in your face.
But I've had so many great ideas and friends evolve from conversations in the park. And it was there that my idea for writing classes for mothers took shape.
I'd recently published the anthology and was getting dozens of emails a day from mothers who wanted to write their own stories, mothers who wanted to know if there would be a sequel to which they could contribute, or a magazine that I might be starting. I had always resisted teaching, focusing instead on my own writing career. But I suddenly realized that getting a group of moms together to talk about motherhood and writing, my two passions, might just be a great idea.
In my first class, held at a Vancouver coffee shop, eight women showed up, all relatively new moms, all raw and emotional. That first night, each woman talked about her major struggle with motherhood and why it was important to her to turn those struggles into words. We talked about our marital stress, the transformation in our ambition, our identities, our friendships. It was like therapy, with some writing thrown in. There were tears and laughter and I couldn't believe the quality of writing that came out of spontaneous assignments. I now teach exclusively online and have started to focus on helping moms start their own blogs.
There is magic in writing down your day-to-day experiences. Any memoir writer will tell you that there is something in the act of recording your story that forces you to ask yourself questions you may not otherwise have seen. Writing - especially with a good editor - helps you unpeel the layers of emotion to see the source of things. It's a powerful journey.
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