The successes of women writers — in respect or readership and whether they have children or not — help other women writers make a claim for the need for time. –Julianna Baggott, as interviewed by poet novelist Jennifer Givhan
I came across the above interview with Julianna Baggott this week on She Writes (poet novelist Jennifer Givhan interviews this talented writing mother of four). Baggott gives practical advice for mothers wishing to stay connected to their writing and sheds light on the often touchy subject of equal time (as batted about by couples with children) which she cleverly refers to as “The Kitchen Debate,” a debate I’m ever engaged in with my mate in terms of my personal and professional writing life.
Baggott recommends writing retreats—and I second the motion. Even half day or day long retreats offer inspiration and respite and can provide powerful directional nudges…and open doors. In 2009, I left my three children (4, 7, and 9 years old at the time) with my husband for the day to attend the Women on Writing Conference in San Bruno, California. One panel speaker encouraged audience members to work on the three legs of a healthy writing career: editing and promoting the work of others, committing to a regular writing schedule of one’s own, and teaching, if possible.
Attending A Room of Her Own Foundation’s 2011 summer retreat (a full week at Ghost Ranch! imagine! the first time I’d been away from my children for so many days in a row) turned out to be a threshold experience and lead to a number of projects, including the AROHO Speaks: Writer to Writer Interview project, a collaborative effort to mine the experiences and insights of writers attending the retreat. I’m not only bolstered and moved by the connections and the process I’ve been privileged to witness, but feel myself growing professionally in ways I never could have grown on my own. The women writers I’ve met at retreats I’ve attended have exhibited such generosity of spirit.
I’ve received much tangible support this past year during my transition from raising the children at home (the last ten years) to the more public sphere of monetizing my writing life. I started on-line teaching this past January (after years of classroom teaching and after the ten year hiatus to raise the children) thanks to leads from new found writing friends I’d met at AROHO’s retreat. This kind of hands on support can’t be replaced, nor applauded enough, and it goes back to the opening quote by Baggott, that indeed…”the successes of women writers — in respect or readership and whether they have children or not — help other women writers make a claim for the need for time.”
Before I announce this year’s classes, I would love to hear from you—how have you transitioned from raising children at home back to work as a writer, and what practical help you found for transforming your writing identity? Any practical mapping help for monetizing your writing life?
I’m happy, and proud, to offer this year’s line up of poetry and blogging workshops I’ll be teaching this coming year on-line at Mother Writer Mentor. All of our workshops are open to all levels of writing:
Around The World in 30 Days: Reading and Writing the International Poetry of Motherhood and Fatherhood: September 10-October 5th, 2012
Transformative Blogging for Writing Mothers: November 1-November 30th 2012
Send Me a Letter: Love Poetry for Couples Recovering from Parenting: Jan 8th to February 1, 2013
Excavating and Writing the Poetry of Motherhood: April 1-April 26th 2013
Excavating and Writing the Poetry of Fatherhood: May 6-May 31st 2013
To sign up or to read full course descriptions: Mother Writer Mentor Classes.