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

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

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I have written poetry, flash fiction, short stories, magazine articles, creative non-fiction essays, and middle grade and young adult novels (unpublished to date.) I belong to SCBWI, the B.C. Federation of Writers, and the Tri-City Wordsmiths. I have had creative non-fiction essays published in three different literary magazines, and won 6th place in a recent national writing competition.

Despite all this evidence of my literary abilities, I have struggled to call myself a writer, embarrassed to use this title, as if it was somehow boastful to say those words out loud.

It took something I hadn't even realized I'd been looking for, until I got it, to finally convince me of the truth in those four simple words.

Approval.

Photo by Amanda Morris

Photo by Amanda Morris

Despite my pleading with them to read my essays, short stories or even a single chapter of my YA novel, both of my daughters always told me they were too busy.

Their refusal crushed me.

My girls have always been an integral part of my writing life: first as recipients of my spoken word stories, later of written tales, then as the subjects of my sometimes-overwrought letters to their teachers and coaches, and most recently as fodder for my creative non-fiction essays. They have been the driving force behind my writing for years.

It took me by surprise when I finally realized that in order to believe in myself as a writer, I needed confirmation that my girls thought there was value in what I was writing.

In desperation, I decided to thwart their claims of being too busy to read. I recorded the first chapter of my novel on a small recording device and handed it to my youngest while she was folding laundry. "No excuses," I said as I handed her the machine.

With a melodramatic sigh, this daughter, the more creative of my girls, relented. "Okay, fine. I'll listen. But one chapter that's all. Then you need to stop bugging me."

I hovered in the background, my racing heart evidence of how important her opinion was to me. I drove her crazy with my pacing until she finally told me to go for a walk so she could focus on the story.

I came back a half hour later, pulse still pounding in my temples. She turned to me, her blue eyes filled with emotion. "Oh, Mom. This was amazing. I want Ana and Clara to be real so they can be my friends. I want a friendship like theirs. Can I read more?"

That's when I finally got it.

If I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, and put words on a page, it doesn't matter if they are published or not, nor if I am rich, or famous, or even respected, if I can bring an imaginary or real story to life in a way that engages the reader on a visceral level and makes them want to read more, then I am a writer.

And, more importantly, my daughter thinks so too.

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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.  


Leslie Wibberley loves the written word almost as much as her family. Her creative nonfiction essays can be found in Mamalode, Mothers Always Write, Literary Mama, and The Manifest Station, and her short stories in Devolution Z and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her work has also won a sixth place and an honorable mention in Writer’s Digest’s Annual Competitions.


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Leslie, I love this so much! My "I finally feel like a writer in the eyes of my kids moment" came when I got my first published piece (which ironically was a short response here at Literary Mama) and my sons who usually want to be engineers sat down with pencil and notebook to write for an hour. It doesn't feel real until they approve, does it?
Leslie, I can so relate to the wondering when you "deserve" to call yourself a writer. We tend to look for external validation and then more validation after the validation, raising the bar ever higher. I'm glad your children finally marveled at your ability to bring words to life...and...and...I hope you know that if YOU love to do it and can't NOT do it, and if time disappears WHEN you do it, you ARE a writer, no matter who notices! Thank you for your words.
Thank you guys, for your kind words. It's funny how easy it is for us to tell people we are mothers, teachers, doctors, lawyers or any other of our chosen professions, but that we are a writer is so darn hard to say.
Lovely. It's such a big step to finally call ourselves writers. What validation from your children. Love it.
So poignant Leslie, thanks for sharing this!
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