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

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A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire
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Unexpected Stories

 

After the dust of having a newborn has settled, the writer in you will be reawakened. It may take you a while–a month, a year, five years–depending on your baby’s temperament, your temperament, and how many children you have. But once you begin to get your senses back, your writer’s mind will return and you will begin to find characters, settings, and story ideas in new and unexpected places. You’ll be immersed in a new subculture of baby consumerism and activities, and yes, even solicitors.

My advice: welcome these new experiences as possible fodder for your creative mind.

For starters, you’ll probably find yourself on one of those baby websites after googling an ailment like “goopy eye” or “hasn’t pooped in five days.” You end up on a message board full of characters with their own tales to share. With a few clicks, you read about homeschooling, army widows, and parents dealing with children with OCD – each of which could lead you down the road to a possible story draft.

Then, when the children are a bit older and you begin to take parent-child classes together, you meet some of these characters in real life. It could be an elderly nanny who loves Nascar and has passed on this passion to her grandchild, or a fifty-year-old swim teacher with two teenagers and a recent scar above her left eye from a motorcycle accident. Since you see these characters on a weekly basis, you have the chance to study their behaviors and mannerisms for an extended period of time.

Back home, the doorbell will ring and a vacuum salesman will try to sell you a vacuum for $1,000, and after you gently turn him down, you're compelled to google the product. You read the buyers’ comments and learn about one woman who felt she just had to buy the vacuum because her salesman really seemed like a good and decent man who needed the money. Though she couldn’t really afford the vacuum, she couldn’t bear to turn him down either. Shortly after reading this, you begin to write a new story that is slightly based on this premise.

And because you’re now a parent and you’re frazzled, you run out of paper and lose your pens, and you have to be creative and ambitious with how you record your thoughts and ideas. You write on receipts or on the back of someone’s business card, wherever you can find white space. And if you can’t find enough space to begin a new story, you force yourself to finally revisit all of the pages you’ve written during the past few years.

You remember that Zora Neale Hurston quote--There are years that ask questions and years that answer them--and  decide that there will be years of filling notebooks and years of revising them.

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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.

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Liz Matthews is a mother, teacher, and freelance writer who blogs at La La La, “Where reading and writing for kids and grown-ups collide.” Her work has appeared in Quality Women’s Fiction and Town and Country magazine. She completed her Master of Fine Arts in Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and now lives with her husband and two children in Connecticut.


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Love this. Stories are everywhere. Our lives are crowded but if we pay attention, part of us is always finding inspiration, always writing. Thank you!
This is like If You Give a Moose a Muffin, for the creative writing mother. I mean this in the most amazing way. The piece follows a gorgeously clear form, which frees the reader to feel each image, while simultaneously feeling excitement for her own life's mix of such fabulous characters and salesmen. I love it. There is writing to do! Thanks!
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