Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Literary Reflections

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You're a reader. You're a mother. And then gradually you realize that at naptime you race to your computer the way you used to race to the TV, anxious to unload the complicated emotions in your heart. You find yourself composing essays in your head, trying to make sense of that strange moment on the playground. You read Bird by Bird and start tucking index cards into your back pocket, carefully folded, as Anne Lamott advises, to keep you from looking too bulky.

You're becoming a writer.

Or maybe it didn't happen quite like that. Maybe you've always been a writer, it's something you've been doing so long you take it for granted as part of your identity. Your journals date back to grade school, and you've been writing poetry since you dotted your i's with little circles. Or maybe you discovered writing later, and found a way to make it your living, whether publishing stories, churning out manuals for software companies, or producing carefully-researched pieces for the local newspaper. But becoming a mother changed your writing life. You have a new subject. You have a new point of view.

However you got here, now that you're reading this, consider writing for us, the Literary Reflections section of Literary Mama. Take a moment to think about how the disparate parts of your writer-reader-mother life coexist and how they influence each other. Don't be afraid to be funny; don't be afraid to be angry. You're writing about a complicated relationship: give it its due.

Literary Reflections also looks for essays that explore the outlets for mother writers, from the private (journals, diaries) to the public (books and magazines) and those that attempt to bridge the gap (weblogs). Write about your writing group, and how you manage to workshop your stories and poems without the kids coloring too much on your drafts. Write about developing your career as a mother-writer, from your experience breaking in to publishing, to working with an editor, to doing a book tour with (or without) your children in tow.

How has your reading changed since you became a mother? What inspires and motivates your writing process? How has familiar childhood literature changed for you now as you read to your child? If your children are readers, how does their reading differ--or not--from yours, and what do you think about that? All of these are good questions to fuel an essay.

We'd also like to hear from mothers whose careers involve books. Are you a teacher? A librarian? A bookseller? How does your mothering influence your work, and vice versa?

Take a look at our archives -- this is the best way both to get a feel for what we like, and to identify what kinds of essays we haven't yet published. Make sure to read our submissions guidelines to understand the distinction between Literary Reflections and other sections of Literary Mama (we publish creative, non-fiction essays, but not Creative Nonfiction; we publish essays about books, not book reviews, and essays about writers you love, but not author profiles). Know that we have read many essays comparing writing to childbirth, and we're interested in new metaphors. And understand that if you've got a compelling take on the life of the mother-writer-reader, you'll find an audience here.

To submit to Literary Reflections, write us at LMreflectionsATliterarymamaDOTcom. Include your essay in the text of your email, together with a brief cover letter. Please make sure to put "submission" in your subject line so that your message doesn't get caught in our spam filter. We respond in 3 to 4 weeks.


Caroline M. Grant served on the editorial board of Literary Mama for over ten years, including five as Editor-in-Chief. She is currently Associate Director of the Sustainable Arts Foundation, which provides grants to writers and artists with children.

She is the co-editor of two anthologies: The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Tales of Food, Family, and How We Learn to Eat (Roost Books, 2013) and Mama, PhD: Women Write about Motherhood and Academic Life (Rutgers University Press, 2008). Her column, Mama at the Movies, ran on Literary Mama for six years; she has published essays in a number of other journals and anthologies.

She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons; she writes about food and family on her blog and at Learning to Eat. Visit her website for more information, including clips from her radio and television events.

Caroline is former editor-in-chief for Literary Mama.


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Great description of becoming a mama-writer -- "anxious to unload the complicated emotions in your heart." Yep, that describes it perfectly. I was always a writer, but didn't have anything I really wanted to write about until I had kids. Now I write about them constantly, and devour mother-writing anthologies. I can't quite remember what I used to read or write before I had kids. I even sometimes use kid-related analogies in my engineering articles. This mothering stuff can just subsume you!
Wow, just reading this makes me want to start writing right away! I'll definitely try to submit something in the future.
I love how you put this, Caroline. Expect something soon! I'm going to blog about this, too. Hope it helps to get the word out.
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