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

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A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire


A New Opening


I once saw a clip on America’s Funniest Videos of an excited dog who would not go through a door. It was a closed screen door, with no screen in it. The owner demonstrated to the dog that there was nothing to impede him by walking through the door to the outside porch. Still, the dog would not go. He seemed very eager to get out, yet could not believe that what appeared to be a closed door was really an opening.

The video reminded me to be thankful that I know a screen door (or lack thereof) when I see one. I am also thankful that I have a new door opening for me this fall. I will be entering Chatham University’s Low-Residency Creative Writing MFA program. Which means that in between the work of being a mom—driving kids around, making dinners, and helping with homework—I will work as a student, hoping for some sort of balance to it all.

To start it off, I will go to Pittsburgh to participate in the Summer Community of Writers. This is the ten-day writing event that will spark my literary flame, connect me to faculty and peers, and cause me anxiety attacks wondering about my husband and son’s experimentation with how many dirty dishes they can fit in the sink before the ants take over the kitchen.

I’ve left my family before, and I know that the time spent soaking in the energy of other writers will be immensely satisfying. I don’t worry about my happy-go-lucky son. I worry a bit about my husband, who’ll have to work, get the kid to and from camp, deal with wake-ups, bedtimes, and all the activities in between. Yet, I know he can do it.

No, mostly what has me buckling at the knees is fear.

There it is. No matter how many times I tell myself that I need to pursue this goal, that it is good for my son to see me working hard toward my dream, that my husband agreed to go this route with me, no matter how many times I reassure myself, the fear lingers in the shadows. And it isn’t always quiet. It comes down to worry, that I can’t do it all, and guilt, that whatever I choose, I will let someone, or everyone, down.

As I hesitantly make plans and contact mentors, I am beginning to wonder if I am not a little bit more like the dog staring through a screenless screen door than I thought. I know I have to go through the door to get to the park, but in the past, I’ve never been able to walk through any such door.

And yet, maybe the fear is simply a screen obscuring my view of what could be. Maybe the fear is just a façade. Maybe all I have to do is…

We never saw the dog in the video step through the door. But I’d like to think that once the camera was turned off he wised up, grabbed his bone, jumped through the door, and headed off to the park for an excellent game of fetch.


Editor's Note:  We've invited Amanda to contribute two or three additional essays as she works through her MFA program. Leave a question in the comments below if you're contemplating a similar opening in your life and Amanda will try to address it.


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.

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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