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 Susannah Q. Pratt's essay, Get in the Car!

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Photo by Literary Mama photo editor, Heather Vrattos

For Susannah Q. Pratt, a writing retreat is both a great escape and a confrontation; she exchanges her familial obligations for the task of organizing her short story collection, an unruly family of a different sort. Even as the editorial challenge before her is a source of frustration, anxiety, and resurgent self-doubt, she finds comfort in perceiving the project as a parenting challenge. Trusting in the power of patience, she concludes,

The truth is that everyone will eventually make it into the car. Their outfits may leave a little something to be desired, but no one will be naked. There may be some fussing over who sits where, but sooner or later I will hear the click of three seat belts, the minivan door sliding shut. At this point, I'll look in the rearview mirror, make eye contact with three sets of eyes, pausing for just a moment of reconciliation and alignment. Then, turning the key in the ignition and putting my foot to the gas, I'll do the job that only I can do. I'll get us where we need to go.

What parenting skills do you bring to your writing? How has your perspective as a mother helped you to put your writing struggles in perspective? Is there a metaphor for creative chaos in your own family life that you could use, as Pratt does, to foster confidence when the stories, poems, chapters, or sentences won't fall into place?

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Read Pratt's essay and submit a 500-word response to this writing prompt by October 17, 2019, for feedback from our editors. Email it to LMreflections (at) literarymama (dot) com and note "September/October Prompt" in your subject line. Please do not attach the essay; rather, paste the response in the body of the email.


Libby Maxey lives in rural Massachussetts with her husband and two young sons. With her academic career as a medievalist having died a stunningly swift death by childbirth, she now works as an editor, writes poetry, reads when able, and sings with her local light opera company. Her work has appeared in The Mom Egg Review, Tule Review, Crannóg Magazine, Pirene’s Fountain, Mezzo Cammin and elsewhereHer first poetry chapbook, Kairos, won the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices contest.


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