Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Literary Mama Rewind: Finding One’s Voice

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Welcome to Literary Mama Rewind!  Every few weeks we'll round up some of our favorite essays, stories, poems, columns, and reviews from the Literary Mama Archives relating to a particular theme.  This week we're remembering how to find our voice. All you have to do is click and read....

Once upon a time, I imagined myself staying at home with my babies and writing in my spare time. However, I quickly discovered that motherhood is not conducive to the solitary life of a writer. Babies and small children pretty much eradicate any possibility of solitude.

The night before my daughter started kindergarten, I had a nightmare, not about playground bullies, unsympathetic teachers, or empty nest syndrome. It was the day before her first day of school, and I had just discovered that I was nine months pregnant with a third child. Not just pregnant, but in labor. In typical dream-reality, I had missed the pregnancy signs until labor was imminent.

With the exception of the reading test in front of me, years of plots and stories and characters exist in my brain as textured landscapes, lush with nuance and detail. But up to this point, my reading comprehension has only been tested on exams. In Mrs. Ridgley's icy shadow, however, I stammer and paw for answers that won't come.

So many of our avid readers at Literary Mama are also creative, inspired writers. But how, exactly, do busy mother-writers maintain focus when life spins from school concerts to composing exquisite prose? How do you define productivity when the kids, the dinner and the editor need you now? How do you enjoy and cherish both nursing and copyediting -- at the same time?

Books on craft can help.

Remember your childhood dreams? Imagine achieving them. You dreamed of traveling, now you travel. You dreamed of being an artist, you've found success. You have the life you want, and then... it happens. A feeling grows, a desire, a longing. You ignore it at first, but the feeling demands your attention. It won't go away. In fact, it's been residing inside you all along, waiting to whisper those magic words: "I want a baby."

  • My Word by John Vanderslice in Fiction

"I'm going to take this now," the man said, standing in front of his refrigerator, door open, one hand inside.

"All right," the boy said, "but if you do that, I will remember It 25 years from now, and in a white-blonde classroom littered with molded plastic desks and ten tired students I will write it down to be exposed and thought about."

My mother sent me an envelope with her picture in it, so I'd recognize her at the Port Authority bus terminal. On the back of the photograph she wrote, "Dear Karlee, this is me, but I'll be blond by then, Your Mom, Kimmie Kirkland." That was no lie. Like a headlight.

Eight hours a day to give to my writing. Before long I was addicted and then it was over. "I need to reshape my writing life," I told Dan on the way home.

Amanda Jaros is a freelance writer living in Ithaca, NY. Her essay “Blood Mountain” won the 2017 Notes From the Field contest at Flyway Journal. Other work has appeared in numerous journals and magazines including, NewfoundLife in the Finger Lakes Magazine, Highlights for Children, and Cargo Literary. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Chatham University.

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