Way back in the day, I was asked to record a show featuring a bunch of essay-writing moms. Not my average gig, but I said yes and ended up thoroughly enjoying myself:
That group has morphed into the Write On Mamas, and they’re celebrating the publication of their first collection of essays with a launch at Book Passage (Corte Madera) on May 4th.
I spoke with some of the Mamas and they were kind enough to share the foreword to the book, which you can read in-full below:
A year and a half ago, I sat on one side of a large, cobbled-together square of tables in the sunlit loft of the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts in Mill Valley. Women lined the periphery of the square and spilled onto the uncomfortable-looking couches against the wall. I was there to lead an afternoon writing workshop for the Write On Mamas.
We talked about character development and concrete details, and I gave them a writing prompt. Soon the sound of fingers tapping on keyboards and pens scratching across paper filled the room. And I could feel the energy bubbling up around me, an energy born when people write together.
I knew that some of these women wrote in order to document their lives, to not forget. Others were using writing to make sense of the world in which they were living, to find joy in what is rather than dwell on what might have been. Others wrote because they simply couldn’t imagine not putting pen to paper.
When one-by-one they shared what had emerged from the writing exercise, I listened to their beautiful words spill out, words that described the textured, complex realities of their lives. And as always, I felt grateful, my understanding of humanity swelling, expanding.
I gave them another writing prompt, they once again bent their heads over their work, and I leaned back in my chair and smiled. My journey to that classroom began a decade ago with the premature birth of my daughter, who is now a healthy ten-year-old. My story was born out of fear and uncertainty, and writing it helped me plant my feet firmly on the ground once more. It led me to these women and to others like them.
* * * * *
That day in Mill Valley I knew that the Write On Mamas would send their words out into the world and change the world, reader by reader, because that is what good writing does. And they have sent their words out into the world—you are holding them in your hands.
Mamas Write examines the things that drive us to the page both as readers and writers. Some of these women (and one man) write to remember and create permanence, others to heal and transform. Some write to encourage, to make other mamas feel less alone. Others write and read to gain perspective, to understand what they think and believe.
This book was born from the common denominator that is motherhood, and these pieces tap into the urge to create, an urge that leads many a woman both to the delivery room and the blank page. But these essays are about much more than why mamas write. These writers are grappling with universals: love, acceptance, disappointment, grief.
And this anthology not only celebrates why and how and what these mothers are getting down on the page; it celebrates community, the ways in which we support each other as writers and as parents. In “The Next Prompt,” the first piece in this book, Janine Kovac writes, “I know that if I can’t share these feelings here—with these mothers who graciously share their stories with me—then […] I will never write truthfully about anything.”
These writers have taken a leap—to write their truth, and to share that truth with each other, to share it with you. This collection is ultimately about the power inherent not only in writing, but in sharing our stories. It’s about creating a space—virtual or in person—where we all feel safe enough to be vulnerable, to write what we’ve been too scared to write.
So dive in, join the community. And when you’re done reading the words in this book, pick up your pen and get your own truth down on the page. You won’t be sorry.
—Kate Hopper, author of Ready for Air: A Journey Through Premature Motherhood and Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers
The event on 5/4 will feature readings from Steven Friedman, Claire Hennessy, Jessica O’Dwyer, Mindy Urlaub, and Laurel Hilton, and you can find more info here. They’ve also got a San Francisco event coming up on May 8, a partnership with our friends at Scribd: anyone who RSVP‘s and signs up for three free months of Scribd will receive a free copy of the book!