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? In Writing Motherhood
, longtime writing teacher
Lisa Garrigues dispels the myth that motherhood is an impediment to
creativity. Drawing on her own efforts to balance the demands of
motherhood with her dream of writing, she shows readers how
everyday life can be a rich source of stories, and how writing can
provide a means to both understand and document their experiences.
Whether you are a new mother or a grandmother, someone who has long
aspired to write or someone who has never written before,
will help you find your voice and tap
into your creative self.
Filled with insight, honesty, and humor, each chapter of
Writing Motherhood weaves together stories from the
author''s life with wisdom from other writers and mothers. In daily
writing Invitations, Lisa then encourages readers to tell their own
stories. Along the way, she reveals how to:
- Start and fill a Mother''s Notebook -- in just fifteen minutes
- Silence the critical voices that stifle creativity.
- Throw away the rules that bind the imagination.
- Carve out the time and space for writing.
- Find a community of other mothers who want to write.
Beautifully written and thought-provoking, this inviting and
inspiring book will strike a chord with any mother looking to
explore and reflect on her experience of motherhood. Here she will
discover that mothering provides endless material for writing at
the same time that writing brings clarity and wisdom to mothering.
Writing Motherhood is an essential guide for mothers at
every age and stage of life.
Tips For Book Clubs
Writing Motherhood is not your typical
book club fare, nor is it a book only for aspiring writers. Part
memoir, part instruction manual, the book addresses many important,
often provocative concerns relevant to all mothers. Whether you
dream of becoming a published author or shudder at the thought of
writing anything more than a grocery list, in Writing
Motherhood you will find many moments you recognize
from your own life. As the questions below indicate, the book
promises to stimulate a lively discussion that''s unlike anything
your book club has previously experienced.
1. In the Foreword to Writing
Motherhood, Lisa lists all the obstacles that have
prevented her from writing: dishes, diapers, dirty laundry, just
plain doubt. What obstacles in your life -- real or imagined --
keep you from pursuing a dream: learning a craft, studying a
musical instrument, taking dance lessons, writing for publication,
running a marathon? (Foreword: Rocks in the River, page
2. Of all the "Building Blocks" of Writing
Motherhood, Lisa struggles most with the Time Out.
Why do you think it''s so hard for mothers to take time for
themselves? How often do you take a Time Out? As a group, can you
generate your own list of restorative ways to spend your Time Out?
(Building Block #6: The Time Out, page 50)
3. Women today must reinvent the role of mother since few of us
follow in the footsteps of our mothers and grandmothers. What are
some of the choices you have made as a parent -- not just about how
you raise your children but also about how you became a mother:
whether to battle infertility or adopt; raise a family alone or
with a partner; keep your job or put your career on hold? In what
way is your experience of motherhood different from that of your
mother''s generation? (In the Beginning -- Taking Your First
Steps, page 65)
4. The first thing Lisa tells her students is to throw away the
rules of writing because rules bind our imagination, constrain our
creativity, and muffle our voices. Our children, however, live much
of their lives according to rules -- rules that are imposed in the
classroom, in the cafeteria, on the playing field. How do rules
function in your household? Which rules are non-negotiable? How
have the rules changed as your children have grown older?
(Throw Away the Rules, page 67)
5. "I can tell you that the only thing as bad as being a child
who feels left out is being the parent of a child who feels left
out." Do you agree with Lisa''s statement? Think of a time your
child felt left out. How did he or she react? What did you do? Did
the experience remind you of a time you may have felt left out as a
child? (Left Out, page 160)
6. When Lisa describes herself at nineteen, meeting the man she
would eventually marry, she says, "Of all the things I wondered
[about Mark], it never so much as occurred to me to consider the
kind of father he would be." When you first met your partner, did
you ever consider the kind of parent he or she would be? What are
your partner''s most endearing qualities as a parent? Most
aggravating? Are your parenting styles similar or very different?
How has your relationship changed since you became parents?
(Fathers -- or Marriage after Motherhood, page 169)
7. Lisa''s mother "no longer walks; she shuffles," slowed down
not so much by age as by Alzheimer''s. Their roles have reversed,
as Lisa has begun to mother her mother. In what way has your
relationship with your mother changed over the years? Have you
begun to parent her? Whether or not your mother is still living,
how has she influenced the way you are now raising your own
children? (Mothering Our Mothers, page 180)
8. Lisa describes mothers as "tribal packhorses," weighed down
by the physical and metaphorical things we carry. Has your life
become more cluttered since you became a parent? Are your days of
traveling light long gone? What do you carry with you now that you
didn''t carry with you before you had children? (The Things We
Carry, page 202)
9. "Privacy is protective; it is about honoring what is sacred.
Secrecy is insidious; it is about burying what is true." Do you
agree with the distinction that Lisa makes between the two? How do
you decide what to tell your children about your life? What do you
believe is best kept hidden behind closed doors? How do you feel as
your children begin to close the door in order to protect their
privacy? (Closed Doors, page 223)
10. Lisa recounts a time she was a "Bad Mother," having left her
sick daughter to fend for herself. Think of a time you slipped up
as a mother -- lost your temper, said no for no reason, forgot to
pick your child up after school. Just for fun, vote on the most
outrageous or inexcusable bad mothering moment. (Good
Enough, page 239)
Ways to Enrich Your Experience of Writing
- Your book club may want to read Writing
Motherhood in September, when children are back in
school and mothers are ready to focus more on themselves. Or you
could read the book at the end of the year, when you are looking
for a different book club experience.
- See if you can find one of your old diaries or journals from
before you became a mother. Bring it along to book club -- not to
read aloud but as a testament to a time in your life when writing
helped you find your way.
- In the spirit of the writers who frequented the Paris cafes in
the 1920s, consider holding this month''s book club in a café or
coffee shop. Or refer to page 47 of Writing
Motherhood for other fun places to meet.
- Bring along a notebook or paper and pen so your group can
sample some of the writing invitations in Writing
Motherhood. Choose one of the activities described in
Games Writers Play on page 295. If you have time for more,
pick a writing start from the Appendix on page 305. Randomly choose
a number 1 to 99 and find the corresponding writing start on the
- Invite Lisa Garrigues to talk on the telephone to your book
club of eight members or more. You can email the author at
Part instruction, part inspiration, this resource shows women that just as mothering is rich in material for writing, writing is an invaluable tool for mothering.