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

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


Twelve years ago I was a student in a Creative Writing Master's program. After classes, I would often go out for drinks with the other students and our tutors. This felt to me like writing therapy. We talked about our challenges and difficulties, and also the heartache that seemed to be an inevitable part of being an unpublished writer, waiting for success.

One night we were discussing having children. Quite a few of the writers were set against it because they didn’t want anything to get in the way of their writing.

When I said I definitely wanted children, my tutor told me,  "At least write a book first." Her support and nurturing, her consistent belief in me, was such a vital part of the early days of building my career and confidence as a writer. I desperately did want to be published. It made perfect sense to write the book first.

Photo by Jena Schwartz

Photo by Jena Schwartz

Life didn’t work out that way. Two days before I handed in my Master's coursework my mum phoned me to tell me she was separating from my dad after 30 years of marriage. In the weeks that followed I was surprised how much the news effected me. It was as if the foundation of my life started crumbling and I looked at everything through a completely different lens. The characters in the novel I was writing seemed shallow and 2-dimensional, as if they were written from a perspective of not quite understanding people or the world.

I tried novel after novel for years, and none of them worked. I called it writer’s block but it was actually a resistance to accepting what I wanted to say. Whenever I wrote autobiographically the words flowed non-stop. I felt like had to work out something about my own life and find my own happiness before I could escape into fiction.

Seven years passed and I didn’t write that book. I drifted from project to project, waking up in the morning, and finding it hard to put words down. It felt as if I had to work out the point of existence, before it seemed worth beginning.

Then one day I woke up with an urgency. I was 31 and I felt that if I didn’t have a child now, I might never do it. I told my husband when he came home from work, and he told me how a friend of ours had just messaged him and said she had dreamed I was pregnant. Two months later, I was.

After my daughter was born, I read a lot of parenting books. I was looking for a magical formula that I would find to bring up my daughter so that she could be happy, not heavy with emotional baggage as so many of us are. I did find a formula, and that’s when I wrote my book. With my daughter in my life, I knew what the point of life was. And she came into the world with my story. After that I just got in with it. Writing seemed easier, when I didn’t have a vast empty day stretched in front of me. Instead I wrote in the cracks between love, play, and joy.


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. 

Kate Orson is a freelance writer, Hand in Hand Parenting instructor, and author of Tears Heal: How to Listen to our Children. Originally from the UK she now lives in Switzerland with her husband, author Toni Davidson, and their 5-year-old daughter.

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