When one of my classmates in graduate school got pregnant right after she sold her first book, our faculty advisers flew into a rage. “You can’t have children!” they told her. “You’ll never write again.”
Pursuing a literary life and a family can seem, at times, impossible. Trying to write about your children can prove even more complex and challenging. First, you’ve got to consider their feelings; while you may think their penchant for collecting pillbugs in the same threadbare princess dress every day is cute, an adolescent seeing her eccentricities immortalized in print may be mortified. If you’ve made your peace with writing about the parenting experience, then you find yourself contending with critics who sneer about “Mommy Lit” and ask whether you’ve got anything better to write about.
Author and teacher Kate Hopper contests that criticism. In Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers (Viva Editions, 2012), she argues for the power and viability of what she terms “motherhood literature.” “Through my blog and teaching,” she writes, “I discovered exactly what I expected: women—mothers—crafting memoirs and essays dealing with issues of identity, loss and longing, neurosis and fear, ambivalence and joy. I found stories about transformation and how the authors see themselves in relation to the world in which they live. Last time I checked, this was the stuff of which real literature was made.”
Hopper has packed her book full of excerpts both heart-warming and painful, by well-published [...]
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