Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Writing Prompt: Truth Be Told by Barbara Straus Lodge

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In our latest Literary Reflections essay, Truth Be Told, Barbara Straus Lodge boldly describes how writing became her anchor as she floundered in the wake of a marriage destroyed by her husband's secret drug addiction, but also destabilized by her attraction to a woman. At first her writing was a private therapy:

"The next day after the school bus left, I settled at my computer, opened a blank document, and hunted for ways to describe the hows and whys of my life becoming unrecognizable."

Even as therapy, however, it felt as threatening as it felt essential:

"Throughout those fragile beginnings, negative voices in my mind hissed, 'You shouldn’t be writing this, it’s private. Think of your children! What if someone reads it?! Stop writing!'

"Yet, a tiny whisper insisted, 'Keep writing.'" 

For Lodge, writing is a means toward understanding, healing and self-definition, but once she is writing no longer for herself alone, it becomes an ethical challenge as well. She wants to have the courage and integrity to put her real name on the story of her identity, but she has to consider that exposing her intimate reality also means exposing her children.

What compels you to put the truth of your life on paper? What kind of dilemmas does that compulsion raise? Do you generally withhold your work from the public eye because it feels too personal? Do you consider your children's input before you send a piece out into the world? How do you try to tell your own story without compromising the privacy of those closest to you?

Submit a 500-word response to this writing prompt by March 16 for feedback from our editors. Email it to LMreflectionsATliterarymamaDOTcom and note "Truth Be Told" in your subject line. We'll publish our favorites on the blog.

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 administers the classics department at Amherst College, 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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