Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Writing Prompt: Literary Reflections

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For each issue of Literary Mama, Literary Reflections shares a writing prompt, inviting our readers to respond. Our editors provide feedback on the responses we receive and we post our favorites on the blog. This month’s writing prompt is inspired by Angie Romines' essay, "Mother Mary."

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Photo by Literary Mama photo editor, Heather Vrattos

In Mother Mary, Angie Romines describes how her college writing professor, Dr. Mary Brown, became one of her mother figures. It wasn't all rosy at first. Dr. Brown filled Angie's papers with green ink, rolled her eyes at Angie's clothes and prose, and gave her a solid string of B+'s—never the elusive A. Yet whenever Mary Brown chose to share a paragraph or a sentence of Angie's writing with the class, Angie began to believe maybe she was good at this writing thing. "Maybe," she writes, "I could keep doing it."

Ten years after that first class, Angie confides she still suffers from Imposter Syndrome: the feeling she hasn't earned her place at the table as a writer—or as a new mother.

But when I sense the useless anxiety creeping in, I remember: I earned all of this. I carried that baby for 40 long weeks and one extremely long, bone-loosening day. It was my soaked face that turned both purple and ashen with the work of childbirth. I am his mother. No one else. And I might not be the next John Steinbeck, but I sure as shit know how to write. Because Mary Brown taught me. With every stroke of her green pen, with every exasperated sigh, with every B+, with every push of encouragement, she shaped me into a writer—someone I never knew I wanted to be.

That's how mothers are, she concludes. They see the truest version of you and, "in whispers and nudges, they make you believe you can get there."

Is there a mother figure in your life—now or in the past—that helped you see the truest version of yourself? How did she nudge you to become the person, mother, writer you are?

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Read Romines' essay and submit a 500-word response to this writing prompt by June 2, 2017, for feedback from our editors. Email it to LMreflections (at) literarymama (dot) com and note "May Prompt" in your subject line. Please do not attach the essay, but paste the response in the body of the email.


Susan Bruns Rowe lives in Boise, Idaho, and has a child in college and one in high school. She has an MFA in creative writing from Boise State University and teaches memoir for The Cabin and The Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning. Her writing has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, The American Oxonian, Penny, and the book, Fighting the World’s Fight: Rhodes Scholars in Oxford and Beyond.


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