Falling in love was always easy for me. It started at age 6. Maybe I was younger than most when it happened, but when I fell, it was head over heels, bright as the sun kind of love.
Not talking boys but sci-fi and fantasy. Star Trek, Doctor Who, Star Wars, The Hobbit, Chronicles of Narnia, Battlestar Galactica, Lord of The Rings, Blade Runner, Indiana Jones, Twin Peaks, The X-Files, Harry Potter, Firefly, Buffy, Lost, Game of Thrones, Fringe, Supernatural and Marvel superheroes. Within 15 minutes of cracking these books or watching these shows and movies, I fell hopelessly, enthusiastically, obsessively in love.
Yes, I know there is a name for people like me – nerd. The first day I heard that word is inscribed in my memory. My eighth-grade English teacher suggested that I read “The Hobbit” for fun. I was bored and done with our reading list, so she pulled the book out from her personal stash. After reading those first JRR Tolkien lines about hobbit holes, I was hooked and two hours later in study hall, I still hadn’t put the book down. When a boy seated next to me asked what I was reading, I shared how it was the most amazing book. He snorted loudly in front of the other kids, “So you don’t have to read it for class? God, you’re such a nerd.” Newfound love turned to deep embarrassment and from that point on, I felt the need to hide my book covers to avoid any future comments.
I would give anything to go back in time and talk to 13-year-old me. I would look her in the eye, give her a hug and say, “ Who cares what other people like or what they think? Love what you love and be proud of it.”
Today, when someone is brave enough to talk to me about these books or shows, I don’t hide my enthusiasm and happily expound on myth arcs, symbolic imagery or complex character progression. Come over to my house and I will pour you a glass of wine, queue a Game of Thrones episode and discuss why Tyrion Lannister should rule Westeros. Maybe over a cup of coffee we can argue who is the best example of the “Deadpan Snarker” trope – Han Solo, Mal Reynolds or Dean Winchester. Any one up for a nine-hour LOTR marathon? Samwise and Frodo make me cry every time.
You don’t like these things or think I’m a nerd? That’s ok because I love, love, love them and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Paula Chapman’s essay The Heritage Doll appears in Mamas Write.
I tried to kill my late wife.
This was in 1996, fourteen years before she would breathe for the final time, minutes after midnight on August 30, 2010, after a five-year struggle with breast cancer.
I attempted murder the day after my brother married along Boston’s harbor, in front of nearly 300 people, including John Denver, who was managed by my brother’s in-laws and sang at the ceremony, most of whom snaked through the hotel for the conga and the hora.
Many of us gathered the next day for a fancy brunch with mimosas and glasses clinking and a sumptuous spread of sliced fruits and vegetables and platters of smoked salmon, bagels, cream cheese, and tuna fish. There were two chairs in front of me as Verna stood facing the opposite direction. I grabbed the chair on the right unaware that Verna was already lowering herself into it.
She fell hard to the ground, wrenching her neck. We spent several hours at a local urgent care center, where she received painkillers for the flight home later that day. Later that week she started chiropractic treatments and, at the chiropractor’s recommendation, gave up caffeine because it tends to tense the muscles. Within weeks she was healed, and in time started drinking coffee again.
But we always joked—at least I hope she joked—about the time I tried to kill her.
Steven Friedman has two essays in our book, Mamas Write – Not Afraid of Words and Shine, Shine, Shine.
We shared a room for a couple of years until she moved out. At last, after watching her sign to an invisible being in the ceiling above her bed, it was long overdue. My father did not know what to do with a daughter who was deaf. She had made it through high school in New York City where people were more used to difference. My hope is that she was not made fun of there. I know when she was younger her atonal voice and her attempts to communicate in public were made fun of.
There was a class for deaf students at Bryant High School in Manhattan. It was only recently that I learned that she did not learn to sign until she was sixteen years old. The trend then was to teach deaf children to speak. They needed to learn to use language, to use their voices. My sister is profoundly deaf and cannot hear, so language connected to voice is useless to her. She needed to be able to use American Sign Language. ASL was forbidden. Schools and doctors and educators alike told my parents that my sister would not be able to live in the world if she did not learn to speak.
This was an impossible task for my sister. Her lack of confidence already withered from being forced to speak and learning to read lips, left her demoralized.
By her senior year she was used to travelling on the train from Queens, where we lived, to Manhattan. Growing up, there were countless mornings she did not want to ride the train with my mother to the school for the deaf in Manhattan. Mornings filled with her tears and vomiting from being so upset were common.
Now, as an adult, I want to understand how her inability to communicate, to find her language for so much of her early life, affected her.
We are delighted to welcome Gloria Saltzman as a new member of Write On Mamas.
Writing started off as something done in secret or in the few stray moments I could catch during the day. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to write about and tried different things to give it structure. I pulled out textbooks from graduate school and even my master’s theses since that was the last thing that I’d written that was longer than a to-do list or a note that said “Do not wake the baby!”
My writing slowly progressed to something that formed complete sentences and paragraphs, but I still wasn’t happy with the way they sounded. I switched writing gears and tried fiction for fun. As least it would be practice and it was hard to do research while I was traveling over the holidays.
Just like reading always had in the past, the story caught me. It wasn’t even a full story, just the idea of one. I would write late at night, I would skip socially required dinners with family members and hide in the closet to write. When I returned from the holidays it was time to get serious. I was ready to take on the title of writer but a closet was not a place for creativity.
I had to take on the man-cave.
The home office previously designated as my husband’s space was the perfect location to get things done. Just like when we were first dating, and small items from my life crept into his apartment, now my writing crept into his cave. My laptop took center stage. My plot outline covers the six foot wide wall. The cup that my children decorated in school holds pens of varying colors and probably a few legos. I have taken over the office like this story has taken over my life. It is mine now, I want to see how it ends. Now my to-do list is about word count and character. My babies are in school and my jotted notes to my family read: “Keep out! Mama is writing.”
Meghen Kurtzign’s essay Backseat Writer appears in Mamas Write.
Jeffrey, my son, is the reason I have three six-year-olds. He is not one of them. Born prematurely, he did not survive. But what did is my brief memory of him as well as the family my husband and I created after his passing.
I wrote an essay about all of that. A long meandering piece that I submitted to the Write On Mamas anthology Mamas Write. And then I took Kate Hopper’s online writing workshop with other anthology contributors to fine tune our submitted essays. Through one of her exercise prompts, a piece about the night of Jeffrey’s birth and death surfaced and became the work I submitted instead of the lengthy essay I initially wrote.
I had spent a lot of time writing my first piece. But it didn’t flow. It had too many storylines. Kate’s class and the work that resulted from it was an inspiration. I discovered that I write better, or I should say, found the time to write better, with a deadline and some subtle guidance.
Working with the small online group was beneficial; not only was Kate critiquing my writing, seven other writers were as well. Comments were always supportive and constructive and shed a different light on how I might approach my craft. And, I was getting to read and comment on the work of my colleagues, whose writing talents I admire. The fate of that long essay that had too many storylines? I’m working with Kate again, one on one this time, to get it to flow.
Teri Stevens’ essay There Was a Before appears in Mamas Write.
Writers, aspiring or published, have all heard the old saw that we should write about what we know. But what if ‘what you know’ isn’t really that inspiring? At least not at first glance?
The day-to-day grind of motherhood rarely feels inspiring. It’s the quotidian. It’s routine, just the daily grind. Writing about motherhood is like writing about your day job. Nobody wants to hear it. That’s probably why serious critics tend to disparage writing about parenting, especially motherhood, although even fathers get an eye-roll when they say they write about their kids. Motherhood. Women. All that little day-to-day stuff – it’s not really “serious” is it?
And yet we mother-writers keep writing. Mothering is what we know, after all. It’s our inspiration. When I first started writing, part of my inspiration was to capture those fleeting moments of babyhood. A photo can frame a moment but writing gives us the full picture. Writing can explain why the toys in the background of the picture are strewn all over the floor or why that yellow fire hydrant was just so fascinating on that summer’s morning at the park.
All of us who have children, whether we write or not, are inspired by them in one-way or another. Children are the main reason that half the country manages to get out of bed every morning, for god’s sake – to get our kids breakfast, to earn the money that pays for their needs, to change a baby, or to prepare things for school. It might not be glamorous but the everyday job of raising a tiny person is certainly inspiring. It makes us think, see the world in new ways and step outside of ourselves. So for that reason, I’m glad to be part of a writers’ group that finds motherhood just as inspiring as I do.
Mairead (MJ) Brodie’s essay Winging It appears in Mamas Write.
My daughter Josie is the happiest person I know. In fact, whenever someone asks about her, the first thing that comes to mind is to say that she is happy-go-lucky, which always makes the person with whom I am speaking smile. Even the thought of happiness is contagious.
So what makes a person happy? Judging by my daughter I would have to say nothing and everything. For her it is a state of being, a general outlook on life that comes just as naturally as breathing. She is the original happy camper, can always strike a happy medium and has been known to be happy as a clam, even on the darkest of days. [Read More...]
Geoffrey gave me a big box of artichokes on Sunday when I went to see my son working at the farmers market. It was the end of the day and they were breaking down the booth and packing up the truck. My mom was in town from Phoenix to see my daughter play Captain Hook in the school musical Peter Pan, so I wanted my son to say goodbye to Gramma before he headed back down to college. I think my mom’s exact words were, “Yay! Artichokes!” [Read More...]
|When I co-founded the Write On Mamas with a small group of fellow friends and writers, I didn’t tell them that I was not like them, that I had not grown up with a passion for writing or had not always longed to be an author.
I didn’t tell them that I did not have any formal writing training whatsoever, apart from a reasonably good boarding school education in England and that had been waaay back in the dark ages, before the electric light bulb was invented according to my kids.
I didn’t tell them that even though I had always read book after book, I had not read many literary masterpieces. Sometimes I just read crap. [Read More...]
|Welcome to the Write On, Mamas! We are a writing group based in the San Francisco North Bay area. We will have 25 Mamas and one Papa writing on a different letter of the alphabet during the A-Z Blog Challenge. We would love to hear your comments.
Long before my daughters graduated from high school, I was already mourning the empty nest. Writing was the only thing I looked forward to as I imagined home life without them. I had dabbled in words before, but aside from churning out a clever holiday letter every year, my recent oeuvre was pretty non-existent. Writing was my consolation prize for the planned obsolescence of motherhood. [Read More...]