Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Announcing Mother Writer Mentor: Practical Tips for Writing Moms

I’m very excited to announce a sister site to the literary e-zine The Fertile Source called Mother, Writer, Mentor: Practical tips for Writing Moms.

This project has long personal roots reaching back to the year my second son was born. Fridays, thanks to the support of my father and his wife, were the day I got to sneak away and maintain my secret life as a writer over at Coffee Catz in Sebastopol. Owner Debbie, while sweeping the crumbs out from under my feet, would stop and ask how the babies were, smile, and listen to my dreams of pursing my writing.

Those Fridays (writing--when I wasn’t catching up with Debbie) along with my subscription to Poets and Writers kept me sane; I’d scope out the very back section where P&W lists specific calls for entries using the deadlines to create new work. Fresh from a disorienting experience with a midwife-attended-birth, I came across an ad for birth story essays. I wrote an essay and fired it off into the void.

The editor took it; some time elapsed between then and the actual publication of the book. I got cold feet; the feminist in me wondered how I could publish an essay that not only touched on date rape, but shed midwifery in a negative light. I retracted the essay. But the editor called me one afternoon. What could I stand to edit out so I could live with it in print? she asked. And we spent the better portion of an hour salvaging the essay.

I remember getting off the phone and thinking how unusual, and lovely, it was to have an extra set of compassionate eyes right where I was blind and that planted the seed for me to imagine a writing life in which I worked with other like minded individuals or co-collaborators to realize my professional writing goals.

Several years later, after helping promote the birth anthology (Labor Pains and Birth Stories), working side by side with that editor (maybe you’ve guessed by now, I’m speaking here of Jessica Powers, founder of Catalyst Book Press), it was easy for me to say yes when Jess asked if I’d like to come on board as poetry editor at The Fertile Source.

Since then, we’ve had number of ideas up our sleeves about how the world could stand to be a friendlier place for writing moms. Mostly questions. Like why isn’t there childcare offered at most writing conferences? Or scholarships that cover childcare? Or writing retreats for families? We also liked the idea of fledged mentors (children no longer in diapers, though maybe still underfoot, or in college or beyond) offering their support to new mothers.

These were some of the conversations behind the desire to create Mother, Writer, Mentor. While we develop the resource portion of the site, and in keeping with a vision of the kind of teaching lives we’d like to have (working with writing moms) we’ll each be offering a course this spring (from yours truly: To the Cradle and Beyond: Excavating and Writing the Poetry of Motherhood and from Jess: Sexy Mommy Stories: Writing Romance Back into Motherhood).

I would love it if you’d consider guest posting for us down the road or sharing your ideas about how we can offer a resource or two for the writing mothers in your life. Jess wrote last week about the changes to writing life since the birth of her son; I took over this week to look at writing while traveling with kids, dog in tow.

I Write, I Mother

I’ve posted at Feral Mom, Feral Writer for five years now, blogging a random act of desperation I took so I’d have a writing deadline when I was nursing my third child and wondering if I’d ever get back the brain-cells that seemed to be siphoned out with the breast milk. But I’m seriously considering a dog blog: Thorn In My Side: Not Your Usual Dog Lover’s Blog. Because I both love and can’t stand the fact that having launched all three children (the youngest started kindergarten this fall), I suddenly have a fourth. She’s the runt of the litter, a beautiful, troublesome Siberian Husky my husband brought home to protect our family for the times he has to work away from us.

I’m walking the black borealis of the glittering diamonds of sand, signature of last night’s rhythmic retreat of the tide, wishing mother earth were not mere metaphor but an actual entity with the power to keep my three children alive for the duration of this week’s vacation in San Diego. My husband works til five, so solo I’m tracking three bobbing black dots, the chinned hoods of our children, one child boardless, drifting further out, a little in trouble I realize as I walk towards the surf zone dragging the reluctant Husky, the lifeguard pulling up behind me, megaphone chirping as he orders my flailing eight year old to stay where he can stand because of the rip tide.

Read more here.


Liz Brennan said...

The new website is a great idea. I will be following it!

Tania Pryputniewicz said...

Great, Liz...will you consider writing up a guest post for the blog for us?

Rose said...

Tania, Reading this brought tears to my eyes. It's so beautifully written. I'm so proud of you and all you've accomplished. It's been wonderful these last 10 years to be able to see you be so true to your writing and following your goals. xo Rose

Tania Pryputniewicz said...


thanks for the support! The way you raised your girls has been an inspiration for me; thanks for all the love, tea, and listening. xo back at you.