October 2013 marks Literary Mama’s ten year anniversary! On Wednesdays for the next few months we'll celebrate this milestone with editors and columnists, both past and present. They'll share what being a part of Literary Mama has meant to them, what they hope for the future of the magazine, and how Literary Mama has shaped their writing, their mothering, and their lives.
Kristina Riggle- Fiction Editor
I’d been having one of those “Bad Mom” days. You know those kind. Where you are convinced that every move you make is wrong, and every little thing you do is screwing up your kids. You’re probably sleep-deprived, certainly stressed, and convinced that every other mother knows everything you don’t. It’s on those days reading parenting magazines is toxic, because every article could have the same headline: “Exactly Why You Suck: What Every Lousy Mom Needs to Know.”
This particular day, I’d driven back home from a visit with another mom, come around to the back of the car to unbuckle my kid, and realized I’d never buckled him into his carseat in the first place. I’d set him in his carseat, and then he asked me for juice. This tiny interruption on this particular day was enough for me to forget what I was doing and I never buckled him in.
He was fine, of course. But all I could picture at that moment was what COULD have happened, if there had been a wreck.
That day I wrote “What Kind of Mother” a short story about feeling like a failure compared to everyone else. I knew exactly the place to submit it: Literary Mama. My friend Terez Rose’s story had been accepted not long before, and that’s where I first heard of this e-zine. My story was accepted, too. Eventually I was asked to be a proofreader, and I got to fix commas and even make suggestions on many more stories about motherhood in all its facets, even – no, make that especially – the most difficult ones.
After a few years of proofreading, I was then asked to be one of the fiction editors, along with Suzanne Kamata, and so here I am.
That’s the logistical explanation of why I’m here, but more to the point, I’m here because it’s a community of mother-writers who understand that those terms aren’t mutually exclusive, that motherhood doesn’t take away from writing or vice versa, but the state of being a mother can and does enhance our creative vision and the way we interpret the world.
Literary Mama is a community. Not the judgmental, insecure community that plagues the narrator of my “What Kind of Mother” story, but a supportive community of amazing women.
One small example: my original editor at LM, Ericka Lutz, helped me immeasurably with her critique of a short story I’d written. Her insightful comments rooted out one of the major issues, and her advice – which boiled down to “brazen it out and trust the story” – helped that story get picked up in the Cimarron Review in my first round of submissions.
I’m so proud to be a part of Literary Mama all these years. It’s astounding to think my toddler who survived his unbuckled seat ordeal is now in fifth grade and a big brother to his first grade sister. Maybe the next time I write one of these anniversary posts, I’ll be seeing him off to college.