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...


A Writer’s Portrait

There is an old scrap of newspaper on my refrigerator that I look at every day. The pink paper is crisping with age and was bent a few too many times, but the picture on it is still clear: an older gentleman sits at a desk, hands carefully poised above a regal typewriter, a full bookshelf behind him.

Photo by Amanda Morris

Photo by Amanda Morris

That photo of author Isaac Bashevis Singer, a Jewish writer of many works, entranced my teenage self. I was already familiar with Singer’s work, having read his novel Shosha and a few stories, but this photo capturing the writer at work was an inspiration. The photo is simple, yet there is so much happening that can’t be seen on the surface. His fingers, hovering above the typewriter keys, are ready to spell out sentences that decide the fate of his characters. There is so much power in that moment, yet Singer remains collected and focused on his task. That photo inspired me to keep writing in my youth and it still does now.

As a teenager, poems spilled out of me faster than I could keep up with and words filled my notebooks and Word documents on my computer. When I entered college, my personal writing took a break as I experienced many firsts: first time away from home, first taste of independence, first love. I was learning so much about who I was and what it meant to be alive.

Now, as a stay-at-home mother to three children under the age of five, I am extremely busy. Free time is hard to come by, yet I manage once in a while to sit with my laptop and feel the keys beneath my tired fingers. Motherhood has helped me realize the true power of words; the words I speak to my children teach and guide them. I have to choose them carefully, just like Isaac Bashevis Singer sitting at his typewriter, for all words are important and can shape the world.

One of my favorite quotes from Singer is this one: “A good writer is basically a story teller, not a scholar or a redeemer of mankind.” I am no scholar and definitely not a saviour of mankind, but I know many stories. Singer’s quote reminds me that we all have stories and the words to share them, no matter where we are in life. On the days where I feel discouraged or exhausted, I remember that my words have as much worth as anyone else’s; I just need a little time to throw them out there.

When I am cooking or cleaning in my kitchen, sweating and hoping my children are playing nicely with each other, I look over at the picture of Singer working on one of his stories and I smile. I remember my dream and the passion for writing that photo helped ignite in my young heart.


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.

Ophelia Leong is wife and mother who loves to write and Irish Dance in her spare time. She has been published in Mamalode, Unbroken Journal, Mothers Always Write, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Eunoia Review, Mixtape Methodology, Beyond Science Fiction, and others. She recently won Mothers Always Write’s 2015 Holiday Poetry Contest with her poem “Christmas With Little Ones.” 

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