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

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A guest post to motivate, encourage and inspire...


Birth of a Writer

For me, it was astronaut or artist. Always the mysteries of the universe fleshed out, explored in the medium of swirly, gobby paint. I was the creative child, seeking a life of beauty and adventure, wondering why I couldn’t keep my room neat.

Before long, writing snagged and tagged me, too. I don't remember scribbling or scrawling, writing in some girly padlocked diary or on yellow legal pads. I do recall confidently pushing down electric typewriter keys, racing to that next line, entranced by the serif font and the whirring of electricity. I held my neck high, fingers pert like those of a concert pianist. Maybe this was the start.

Photo by Amanda Morris

Photo by Amanda Morris

Maybe it was the Lisa Frank school supplies, erasers and notebooks whispering, "Pick me, you know you love purple", or unicorns, or whatever. Writing accouterments could be for us, too, not simply the stuff of utilitarian junk drawers. You could buy a notebook that spoke to your eight or nine year-old self. You could fill it with the loop de loop of your own well-practiced monogram, secret hopes and crushes. Maybe the writer begins there, within a cherished pegasus notebook.

Writing hit me like I'd been knocked through a wall. I learned passion, courage in sharing, then refusal. Maybe it is the scraping off of a pebbly-rejection that establishes verve and tenacity in a young writer.

My well-meaning mom suggested I show my tough fifth grade teacher who couldn't get through to me with math (so long, science and astronauts). Mom wanted her to see multiple intelligence, diverse thinking, a linguistic-gifting, so what if I couldn't hack math? I gave Ms. Pursed Lips, four well-typed poems and waited for approval.

She marked it red to the gills, now more red than black. "What is this place where land meets water, anyway??!" She didn't get poetry, and certainly didn't get me. I took my red and left for good, a writer.

The world was punctuated, bettered by the rhythms and syllables of words. A new music emerged. You could change things, too. You could be bold, hold the reins when the other places didn't feel so good. I could write!

Then came Sonia Sanchez and Pablo Neruda. By that time, every other possibility was shot; I was a writer. My eleventh-grade creative writing teacher didn't really use red much, but when she did, it could have been purple and loopy. Hers were the comments of a friend who cherished our souls. She read my whole essay aloud.

I paint with red, crushing letters and words that just don't fit. I better the world, or at least my mood, with a pen, and maybe that is the place I scratched at, scrawny and ten. Maybe the work of a writer is a marriage of the stars and the ability to paint. Maybe it is us pulling together two worlds, the ability to feel complete.

Whatever it is, I'll take 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.



Melissa Uchiyama lives in Tokyo with her wonderfully loving, precocious clan. Her writing appears in Kveller, Asian Jewish Life, Cargo Literary Blog, and within the HerStories anthology Mothering Through the Darkness.

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