Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
After Page One: Fulfillment


A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire


Another Type of Richness:

Mothers Who Write


I've started rereading  A Question of Balance: Artists and Writers on Motherhood edited by Judith Pierce Rosenberg. Even though it was published in 1995, the issues surrounding being a mother while being a writer or artist are pretty much the same. There are issues with guilt, worry, frustration, and of course, balance. These essays and interviews could have been written last week, each woman seems to be coming up against the same challenge—how to mix writing with motherhood or how to be a good mother and a good writer/artist. Eighteen years later: same issues, different decade.

In the introduction, Rosenberg writes about how she had a career crisis after they moved and she lost her home office. She writes:

We had just moved out of a cramped two-bedroom cottage into a ranch house with a fenced yard, and a room for each child—but no office. My husband quickly nixed my idea of converting the dining alcove into a work space, saying that it would look too messy. And I believed the child rearing experts who insisted that my son and daughter were too old to share a bedroom ... Why didn't I insist on taking my old desk to our new home and using the dining alcove as an office? Why were the perceived needs of my children more important than the demands of my work? In retrospect, I think the reason lies in the fact that I was earning very little money as a freelance writer. In fact, my work was a financial drain on the family since I did not make enough money to cover my work-related expenses, especially childcare. It was difficult for either my husband or for me to consider my work as important as his.

Many times, the things that bring us the greatest fulfillment in life, may not offer the greatest financial reward. As writers, we shouldn't measure our success by a dollar sign. There are many ways to be rich and to live a rich life. As I’ve grown as writer and a woman, I’ve begun to realize that financial achievement is not the only way to measure success. I’ve realized how I spend my time is more important than a number on a paycheck.

Sometimes I still struggle with the mother/writer balance as well as how much I'm bringing in financially to the family. But as my daughter gets older, it's become easier as I see myself as a writer in the world. And there is less room for excuses if I don't write.

We each have our challenges we face as writers—some we create internally and some are external. As women writers, we must write through them. Writing offers us another type of richness. There is value in our writing. If we want to keep that part of ourselves, we must continue to write, to find time to write, to have a rich life. We try our best and we move forward.


Join our After Page One series.  We’re looking for 300 to 500-word guest posts that motivate, inspire, and encourage other mama-writers, and we’d love to feature YOUR thoughts about getting started, getting back to a writing project, integrating writing with motherhood, reading, or having a positive attitude.   The list is endless, but here are some questions that might help you get started. We’ll publish a short bio at the bottom of your post so readers can learn more about you and your projects.

Kelli Russell Agodon’s fourth collection of poems, Hourglass Museum, will be published by White Pine Press in 2014.  Along with being the mother of a soon-to-be teenager and the wife of a firefighter, she is the editor of the literary journal, Crab Creek Review and the co-founder of Two Sylvias Press. She lives in the Northwest with her family where she is finishing up her memoir, Retreat: A Guidebook For Escaping the Reality.  Learn more about Kelli and her projects here and  about Fire On Her Tongue: An eBook Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetry, published with Two Sylvias Press co-founder Annette Spaulding-Convy, here.


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Kelli, I very much appreciate your perspective on this topic. You're absolutely right that we have to be the first ones to value and prioritize our writing. Only then do we open up the possibility that others will also recognize that value, financially and otherwise. Thank you!
I love this. I walk a tightrope every day between my "day job" which earns money and is "real," which is in finance, and the work of my heart, which earns nothing and feels quite ephemeral, which is writing. Thanks for reminding me that there is value to the latter, no matter what. xox
Ah yes. That book. 1995. When my son was 4. And my marriage was falling apart partly because my husband didn't like the fact that I didn't earn enough money as a writer. Sigh. And despite all the tension, they were relatively good old days, compared to having to go to work fulltime as a single parent after the divorce... Which wasn't particularly great for my son, either. :( It's important for families to unite around a shared vision that reflects the best interest of everyone, breadwinner, caregiver, child, artist. Who is called to do what? And for what reasons did the couple decide/agree to have a child, and what was the vision for raising that child? How can each person's work in the world best be realized and how does each partner support the other? It's hard work all around and a lot of giving on all sides. Thanks for the reminder that Balance is still necessary, even though my son is in college.
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