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

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A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire…


When my young daughters start full days of school, I decide it’s time to clean out our garage. It was supposed to be my den, but somehow got stacked high with boxes. The space, like its owner sometimes, lacks focus and has taken on so many roles over the last several years: guest house, Santa’s workshop, catch-all room. And it’s where we store tools and touch-up paints; our bikes when it’s going to rain.

The task is daunting, but I’m determined. I spend one whole day trying to figure out a strategy and wondering how the mess in this room became so unscaleable. Where do I even begin? I move boxes, trying to create a path.

What to keep? What to let go? How to sort through things and memories? As a compulsive saver of things, I confront the mountains of art projects and stacks of papers. I can’t bring myself to throw out any of the kids’ artwork, so I decide to devote a closet to storage.

I discover a box overflowing with rejection letters, from back when magazines and literary journals still sent actual letters via post. There are hundreds of letters in the box. I remember reading about how many of the greats - Melville, Nabokov, Hemingway - were mercilessly rejected before finally getting published. Louisa May Alcott was told to “stick to teaching” in one rejection letter before she sold Little Women to a publisher. I saved my rejections as reminders to keep trying, never to give up.  Unwilling to part with them now, I decide to repurpose. I get out the glue and gloss and decoupage the top of my den’s bureau with them, forever reminders of my efforts to persevere.

I frame my past published articles. If I don’t celebrate my past successes, who will? For some pieces, I splurge and have them professionally framed. For others, I buy half-off frames at Michael’s craft store. I hang them all carefully on their own wall in what is quickly becoming, and feeling, less like a garage and more like my den.

I paint my favorite quotes on the walls in big, looping cursive, as reminders to never stop trying to pursue this calling.

“Let the beauty we love be what we do.” - Rumi

“Writers live twice.” - Natalie Goldberg

In two weeks, my den is finished. The tools, paints, and bikes are outside now, under an eave in our backyard so they won’t rust if it rains.

My daughters marvel at the writing on the walls. One loves the painted ones best, the other points to each of the framed stories I’ve written over the years.

I almost say aloud: This is what I used to do.

“This is what I do,” I say instead.


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. Read more about submissions to the blog here.

Carrie Friedman writes, revises, and submits – and continues to receive plenty of rejections – daily. Over the years, her essays and articles have been published in over 20 different periodicals, including the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and Newsweek magazine. Her website is

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As writers, we sometimes forget that we're also responsible for creating the narrative of our own lives. Very inspiring to see this writer "rewrite" her story and turn rejections into inspiration! I'm going to do the same...
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