Synopses & Reviews
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, Writing Motherhood
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 a day.
- 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.
"Writing Motherhood reclaims the old-fashioned, spirit-lifting, life-grounding act of writing as an elemental part of our motherly lives. Grab your Mother's Notebook and a speck of time, throw away the rules, and start writing!" -- Miriam Peskowitz, author of The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars: Who Decides What Makes a Good Mother?
is a fantastic resource for any woman who finds herself transformed by mothering and seeks to give a literary voice to her experience. With both practical and creative advice, Writing Motherhood guides the literary mother towards giving birth to herself as a writer."
-- Andrea Buchanan, author of Mother Shock and co-founder of LiteraryMama.com
"Lisa Garrigues is the real animal, a trailblazer and a muse. Her techniques are both grounded and inspirational. May she lead a revolution." -- Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way
"During an afternoon absorbed in Writing Motherhood,
I suddenly realized that Lisa Garrigues was describing what my head and my heart and my hands have been doing ever since I became a mother. Lisa's inspirations and invitations smooth the path to recording motherhood in real time, exactly how we wish our mothers and grandmothers for generations before us had done. My mother and I are now sneaking Lisa's book out of each other's homes, knowing that it will be missed within hours, and loving that it will be days before its return."
-- Melinda Roberts, author of The Mommy Blog and Mommy Confidential: Adventures from the Wonderbelly of Motherhood
"With both wit and wisdom, Lisa Garrigues depicts creative ways to capture and communicate the essence of motherhood. I will wholeheartedly recommend this book to any woman I coach who wants to explore and express her experiences as a mother and learn about her Self in the process."
-- Bria Simpson, MA, Life Coach and author of The Balanced Mom: Raising Your Kids Without Losing Your Self
"Motherhood was the catalyst for making my dream of writing a book a reality, and I believe there are many other mothers who also have a story or passion to share but they may not know how to begin. Writing Motherhood
is a wonderful guide to help mothers channel the creativity that is at the core of mothering into art."
-- Cali Williams Yost, author of Work+Life: Finding the Fit That's Right for You
"I wish Writing Motherhood had been around when I was a new mom. Women deserve to own and record their words. Writing Motherhood -- honest, practical, and inspiring -- helps us overcome our fears and unlock the thoughts and feelings we all have inside. Thank you, Lisa Garrigues!" -- Brooke Shields, author of Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression
"I thought I'd read Lisa Garrigues's intimate, lively book in an afternoon -- but I kept putting it down to grab pen and paper instead, so inspired was I by her determination to to clear the hurdles, duck the obstacles, and write --no matter what. For any mother who longs to find more time for herself, for any writer who wonders if the demands of motherhood will compromise her craft, here is a welcome reminder that art and life are gloriously, messily, inextricably intertwined. At once creative writing manual and mothering memoir, Writing Motherhood
inspires us to honor our own everyday lives as mothers by giving shape to them on the page."
-- Katrina Kenison, author of Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry
About the Author
Lisa Garrigues is an award-winning writer and experienced educator. In addition to teaching Writing Motherhood, she leads a variety of courses and workshops in writing memoir. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and earned a master's degree in education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey, with her husband and two children. Please visit <>.
Table of Contents
List of Writing Mother's Helpers
Foreword: Rocks in the River
Reading Group Guide
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 xiii)
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 Motherhood
- 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 list.
- Invite Lisa Garrigues to talk on the telephone to your book club of eight members or more. You can email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.