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 Christie O. Tate's essay, Tornado Drill Position, and Odeta Xheka's essay, At the Kitchen Table Where Miracles Happen.


Photo by Heather Vrattos

Both of the Literary Reflections essays for the March/April 2020 issue deal with societal strictures around writing and motherhood.

For Tate, the extreme negative reaction to an essay published in a national magazine takes her back to childhood, both the anxiety-filled moments when she and her family huddled in a closet to wait out a tornado warning and to the time when she was resoundingly rejected by the girls of her fifth grade class. The topic of Tate's essay that inspired a storm of online vitriol was writing about children when they're past the age to object. When the storm dies down, Tate concludes that, while she might have stated her case more clearly, "I believe, as I always have, that there is room enough for all the things that matter. Children's privacy. Mothers' creative work. Boundaries. Ethics. Creativity. Negotiation. Stories. There is more room than we've been told we're allowed."

Xheka discovers this space for mothers' creative work through the process of gathering around the kitchen table to write her words while her children write theirs. "[T]he very simple act of writing alongside my children has taught me an invaluable lesson on how to use writing to explore only those areas of my life that are so mysterious and personal, so fresh and unbound by social mores as to become universal while allowing me to live out multiple versions of myself," she writes.

How do you, as a mother and a writer, make space for all the things that matter and get to a place where you can live out multiple versions of yourself on the page?


Read Tate's and Xheka's essays and submit a 500-word response to this writing prompt by April 27, 2020, for feedback from our editors. Email it to LMreflections (at) literarymama (dot) com and note "March/April Prompt" in your subject line. Please do not attach the essay; rather, paste the response in the body of the email.

Andrea Lani writes about the nexus of motherhood and the natural world. Her short stories and essays have appeared in The Maine Review, SaltFront, and Brain, Child Magazine, among other publications. She is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA Program, a senior editor for Literary Mama, and a Maine Master Naturalist. She lives in central Maine with her husband and three sons.

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