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

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A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire


Two Notebooks

When Sylvia started Kindergarten, I thought a new writing world would open up to me. I imagined myself curled up on the sofa reading or upstairs in the office tapping furiously at the keyboard. But as any writer who has ever had a child start school knows, those few hours are easily eaten up with laundry, email, and throwing out toys while she’s not looking.

September turned into October and suddenly it was March and I didn't wasn't getting as much writing done as I imagined I would - if any. Grocery shopping without a whining six-year-old was more compelling than scribbling at my memoir. Cleaning the bathroom took on an urgency when I had a pile of submissions to send out. And in no time, her bus would come lumbering down the road, a yellow image that seemed to say, slow down.

I would drop my pretense of writing and be out there to greet her, a smile on my face, a little bit relieved. Writing time over.

Then in June, the Kindergarten teacher sent the children home for the summer with brand-new spiral-ring notebooks, wide-ruled. Sylvia’s was red and the teacher had printed “Sylvia’s Summer Journal” on the cover in permanent marker.

“I’m supposed to write in it every day,” she told me.

She settled herself down easily at the little café table on our sunny, front porch and opened her pristine, new journal. I brought her a box of colored pencils and she began to write in large, neat printing. I looked at her sitting at there, head bent over her work, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw, on a bookshelf in the porch, my own notebook. My notebook was also spiral-bound but was half-filled with the fits and starts of keeping a writing journal. I wasn’t sure how it had ended up out here, lost amid dusty magazines and sidewalk chalk.

I sat down next to Sylvia and opened my journal to the first clean page, folding over the cover so I couldn’t see the half-finished work. As Sylvia chose colors and asked for the spellings of words, I picked up a pencil and started what would become a habit for the two of us. Journal writing together.

While she wrote about selling her baby toys at a consignment shop, I ruminated about the choices a child learns to make. On one of those rainy summer days, I wrote about grey clouds and depression while she wrote about playing at a birthday party. When she chose to draw a picture of herself and her best friend, I reflected on my own friendships and how they impact my writing. As we sat down each day, I found that I could relax and just show up for the blank page, just like she did. And as we wrote, I realized that my writing world had opened up.


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 so readers can learn more about you and your projects.

Anika Fajardo was born in Colombia and raised by her mother in Minnesota.  Her work has been awarded a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant and her memoir-in-progress was a finalist for the Bakeless Literary Prize in Creative Nonfiction. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and daughter. See more at

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I too treasured the time when my children were out of the house as an opportunity to toss annoying toys. Now they're home from college and I am using this morning when they willsleep until 11 a.m. to work on an essay, feeling the pleasure of their slumbering presence. Nice note.
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