Updated: Apr 24, 2019
In spring 2016, I put out an ad for MAMA WRITES, an Intensive Creative Writing Course for women so that I could complete a required teaching practicum during my MFA program at Goddard College. As I had enrolled in graduate school with a toddler at home and being ten weeks pregnant, I knew well what pursuing a dream of becoming a writer meant for a woman, especially a full-time mom of small children. At that time, my own dream seemed like the hardest, craziest choice. The writing career I imagined seemed impossible. And it would have been impossible if I hadn’t found an amazing, supportive community of writers. And it would have been impossible if I hadn’t had my family to support me. And it would have been impossible if I hadn’t created a space (not always physical) where I could go, slip away from reality, and write, write, write.
However, writing proved to be a solitary occupation; inspiration comes and goes and resistance, like a beast, growls at us from every corner. To keep writing, a writer needs constant support, a group of similar minds, a cheering team. And a mom writer needs all the help she can get.
Eight women came to my first MAMA WRITES class. When they introduced themselves, almost all of them began with “Before I became a mom, I was a lawyer / a copywriter / a journalist / a scientist…” The structure “before I became a mom” resonated for days in my head. As if each of them was a different persona before stepping into motherhood. A separate character that now felt left behind.
While I was preparing for my first class, I read Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, so I brought up the idea of having a room of one’s own, which in our case could be the classroom, or metaphorically—half a day each week dedicated to writing. We talked about our daily routines and our schedules and priorities as mothers, trying to figure out where we should pin down our writing hours. In all their answers, I recognized the undercurrent that I knew well—the sneaking feeling of guilt. One woman pointed out that mothers wouldn’t even try to do something if they doubted they could do it well. Her thought made me realize what my mamas needed. Most of all—they needed encouragement. They needed a strong push to resist the terror of the blank page and to put their first words on paper, and they needed a supportive group of women experiencing the same thing. I left my first class with an exciting determination. From the complete chaos that, at the time, had been my life, an amazing realization sparkled: I should continue working with women; guide them, encourage them, inspire them.
It’s been two years since I welcomed the first group of women, and I am still equally excited about the purpose of my MAMA WRITES classes. I help women along their writing journey. But what I couldn’t have known when I first started was that those women would guide, encourage, and inspire me back. Because of my own MAMA WRITES class, I have grown as a writer, and I am still surprising myself.
Writing is what I am most passionate about (this is not the page where I talk about shoes, Italy, or Cabernet Franc). And I am looking forward to sharing my passion with you.