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

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

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A Simple Truth

"Some days I’ll do almost anything else,
Wander the house, tackle the ironing, dusting, I’ll shuffle
This pile of papers, those books, to another more sensible place"
-Ingrid Wendt
The Simple Truth

Photo by Amanda Morris

Photo by Amanda Morris

This poem comforts me enormously. Over lunch just now, I read an essay by Mary Oliver in Long Life, about a garbage dump. She inventoried her feelings about garbage dump and her town’s plan to develop it in to a waste treatment plant. Mary found a certain reclamation of spirit about a garbage dump.

Another literary mama, Louise Erdrich writes in Advice to Myself, “Leave the dishes” and so I do. I walk away from those sticky things and leave them to the fruit flies and the hefty thick-winged moths banging around my sink. I walk away, resisting the temptation to stand there to wash my plate and everything else in the sink. Instead, I aim toward my writing desk. As I leave the kitchen, I lay hands on some chocolate and a pot of cold tea. I eat a chunk of the former and a cup of the latter and make my way to my desk where I write from my real life, on a real day in September, about real things.

I think that I am supposed to be writing about SOMETHING, some topic that is captivating and remarkable. In an excellent collection of essays, A Solemn Pleasure, author Melissa Pritchard writes about her dachshund. I don't even like dogs, though the first and only dog in my early life was a dachshund named Gertrude. My Lutheran minister grandfather raised dachshunds. My parents, newly wed and fashionable, choose one. But once I arrived, our Polish landlady in the two-story, brick apartment building on the far north side of Chicago, not in chic Evanston, but close enough, declared that it was either Gertrude or me. Since I was only one year old, I don't remember the discussion, but I am relieved to report they kept me. Maybe my first conscious memory is of sitting on the linoleum floor of the kitchen and the sleek brown body of Gertrude jumping on me. We were about the same size. I remember the yellow walls, her clicking nails and the light of the room.

When we leave the dishes and begin writing, when we wager the bet that what is real for us might be real for another reader, whether a garbage dump or a dachshund, we dive in with great hope that “our worst destructive habits and this empty mirror of a page,” as Rumi calls it, will meet some harmony, some sweetness of passage, some integrity.

This is the path I tread daily, or as often as I can, which I hope is daily. I tend to what absolutely must be done, and leave the dishes until another hour, when my mind is not so fresh. When I am flooded with urgent thoughts and titles and slices of sentences, doing the dishes, tying up loose ends, picking up that last pair of socks in the hallway has to wait.

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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. 


Suzi Banks Baum is an artist, actress, writer, teacher, community organizer, and mom. She’s passionate about helping women find their creative voice and live focused, joy-filled lives. Suzi inspires hundreds of women every year to live their lives from the space of creative spirit and to value their contributions to the world and one another through her Mapping Motherhood course, taught throughout the United States, her blog, her Sacred Refuge Programs and her Powder Keg Writing Workshops. Learn more here.


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This is fabulous. Thank you. Thank you for the reminder that our most mundane lives are precious, that our dachshunds and dishes and dustbunnies are as fascinating, and word-worthy, as any supernova. That when we write about the everyday, we write also about the essential beauty and mystery of all that is. You've inspired me.
Tending to what absolutely must be done--sometimes it's the socks and some days, the pages. Lovely!
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