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 T. Pearl Joynz's essay, Reflections of a Mother Who Writes to Heal, and Rachel Sturges's essay, Sand Stories.

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Photo by Heather Vrattos

In this month's essays, both T. Pearl Joynz and Rachel Sturges touch on loss as a catalyst for creativity and writing as an opportunity for healing and discovery. 

For Joynz, it is the hurtful dissolution of her marriage that brings her to seek not only refuge but also strength and a new sense of self through the process of written expression: "Writing became therapy; it gave my emotions a place to be fully alive and experienced. They had a right to tell the uncomfortable truth. They had a right to have a resting place . . . ." Although the intensity of this work is hard on her children, it is in part their honesty that drives her to be honest on the page, with herself and with others, to an extent nearly unbearable in person.

For Sturges, it is her late brother and the childhood they shared that calls her to her desk. Looking for words in old photos and mementos, she hopes to capture in her writing some of the spontaneous flow of inspiration that characterizes her four-year-old's daily play. Toby's determination to create and the freedom with which he lets his creations go are both humbling and convicting. Sweeping away her son's messes, Sturges wonders if she can sweep away her own fear as she reaches to the past: "Toby sometimes seems like an interruption, a reminder that I never can go back to who I've been before, making me fear that I'll never finish these stories based on the life I once had. But in his tiny body, in his activity and energy and passion, I'm reminded of my brother." 

How has writing helped you learn to trust yourself, find yourself, or remake yourself? How has it led you to see your connections to others when you've felt lost? How have your children (likely unbeknownst to them) helped you do the writing that must be done?  

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Read Joynz's and Sturges's essays and submit a 500-word response to this writing prompt by February 17, 2020, for feedback from our editors. Email it to LMreflections (at) literarymama (dot) com and note "January/February 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 Massachusetts with her husband and two rapidly maturing 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, Emrys, 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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