Thursday, May 03, 2007

Writing Motherhood: Blog Book Tour

After my sons were born, I was just so amazed and absolutely overwhelmed by my intense feelings of love and awe at at them and the experience of motherhood that I, a literature doctoral student, just felt that one just couldn't possibly express those feelings in writing, at least not really good writing. I felt, for example, that not even the greatest poet would be able to convey how a mother feels about her children. I even asked a dear friend, a fellow graduate student, mother of two grown children, and a published poet if she had ever written poems about her experience as a mother or whether she knew of any great "mother poets" -- she answered negatively.

Of course I have since encountered some amazing poetry about motherhood (mostly pointed out by Catherine Newman in her Baby Center columns, but also in my online friend, writer, and mother C. Delia Scarpitti's blog). I never gave much thought to the idea that I myself could attempt to write meaningfully and even with literariness about my experience as a mother, but I have since read many wonderful memoirs, creative non fiction, and novels about motherhood and I think it's possible. As for me, I'm a compulsive journal writer and now a blogger, so I register my sons' lives that way; but I want more, I want to learn how to write well about motherhood. That's why I jumped at the chance of checking this book out!

Writing Motherhood: Tapping into Your Creativity as a Mother and a Writer, by Lisa Garrigues (Amazon Link) is a great, extremely practical guide for mothers who want to write about their experience. The book's official site asks:
Have you always wanted to chronicle your experience of motherhood, but never knew how to begin? Are you looking for an outlet for self-expression, but can't imagine how you could juggle one more thing? Whether you are a new mother or a grandmother, someone who has long aspired to write or someone who has never written before, in Writing Motherhood Lisa Garrigues will show you how to use writing as both a tool for recording your life and a path to understanding your experiences.
The main technique that Garrigues suggests and which should take about 15 minutes -- filling two pages of the Mother's Notebook a day -- reminds me of the advice given by Joan Bolker in her book Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day. If one wants to succeed as a writer, no matter the kind of writing, one has to do it systematically, every single day, and have writing become a habit.

The book doesn't just suggest that you write daily and leaves it at that, though. Garrigues provides countless helpful suggestions in each chapter through "Invitations" or prompts for writing, or ""writing starts" (in the part II chapters), citations from other authors or mother writers which she calls "Inspirations," and the boxed sections with many concrete examples, advice, and more prompts titled "Writing Mother's Helper." And it doesn't stop there since the book also includes "Sample Mother's Pages" as well as sections explaining how to start and run a group of writing mothers, how to connect in cyberspace, and even games for writers! The first appendix provides a rich list of 99 writing starts and the second a handy bibliography. (You can check "Writing Motherhood at a Glance" here.)

I also appreciated how Lisa Garrigues shared her own experiences and the inception of the book in the introduction, aptly titled "The Birth of Writing Motherhood." It's amazing to see how a fortuitous request to teach a class led her to experience and learn so much and now share it with her readers.

Right now I'm all wrapped up in dissertation writing (not to mention house hunting ;), but I can't wait to finish so I can pick this book up again and start writing my experiences as a mother more creatively and better. I'll be sure to share some of that writing with you here in the blog. I just can't wait!


Carrie-in-TN said...

Hola, Lilian...Thanks for this. I am making this book my mother's day present to myself.

Keiko said...

Bem interessante, hein? Como essa semana tô de mãe, peguei na biblioteca "Baby Laughs", menos instrutivo com certeza, mas bem divertidinho mesmo assim.


Left-handed Trees... said...

Thank you so much for all the support you offer my means so much. I have looked at this Garrigues book and it seems lovely. Some of my favorite writing is done in the notebooks I keep just for my babies...

Anonymous said...

Hi Lilian:

I hope it is appropriate for me, as the author of WRITING MOTHERHOOD, to respond to your enthusiastic posting about my book during the Mother Talk Blog Tour on May 3. I have been swamped with events around my book launch, and am only just coming up for air. You and I seem to share a love of literature and an academic orientation, so I'm especially complimented by your appreciation of my book. In my book, as in my classes, I tried very hard to be inclusive of all mothers, whatever their educational background or life circumstances. The fact of the matter is that motherhood becomes a kind of common denominator, linking women across the divides of race, religion, class and family history. See, already motherhood has linked you and me!

From one mother to another,