Posted by: Cecilia | January 25, 2010

Mom’s New Leaf, Turn 2

In 2009 I hit a personal (age) milestone which intersected with another milestone in Fred’s life: entering school. This meant that, for the first time in five years, I was able to divert some attention back to me. Max and I own a home-based business which runs  a cyclical six months more or less, which in turn leaves me free (more or less) to do as I please the other six months of the year. (What paradise of a job do I have, you might ask? I’ll answer that in a future post. (Note in advance: it’s not all that paradisiacal.))

So literally on my birthday I started an on-line fiction writing course, led by the writer Masha Hamilton. The only book I had read in the  five years leading up to that point that didn’t include the words breasts (in the lactation context), acid reflux and pertussis was The DaVinci Code, and I certainly hadn’t written anything literary since my college Imposter Syndrome days as an assistant editor. I suddenly found myself in a class of published writers and retired college writing instructors. I was so intimidated that I literally cried after reading the first round of email exchanges. However, I felt determined to stick it through, since up to then I had a habit of turning away too soon and too quickly from anything that might reveal my inadequacies.

The course was demanding and intense with multiple weekly 1,000-word exercises and 20-page assignments every 5 weeks. I was shocked to find at times my hands shaking while typing freewrites that pulled me back to years I had long forgotten. But the experience brought me back home to the world of words. It reconnected me to the parts of my life I had discarded since becoming a mother and dared me to share with strangers my most intimate thoughts, however imperfectly expressed. This is the first prerequisite for writers, and it taught me to live comfortably in a perpetual state of self-consciousness.

After the course was over I worked on a few pieces and submitted three short stories. Two were rejected (presumably), the third was put on hold as publication plans were delayed. I started and stopped at least three blogs. I failed to write regularly but I did start reading again.

Yesterday I was going through my old pieces, and there is one in particular that I like because it tells the story of the journey Fred and I had taken together over the last five years. It is the best way I can try to explain the ambivalence I experience now as a mother who has finally achieved the freedom she’s wanted since she became a mother. I had my finger on the “send” button, ready to submit to Literary Mama. But I hesitated, fearing I was sending an imperfect piece out to disappear in the cyberspace of some editor’s office. While stalling I surfed around on Literary Mama’s website, and found that one of the editors, Kate Hopper, is offering a writing course in February. I sent an inquiry, and grabbed the last spot in the class.

2010. Another year, another birthday, another chance to dust myself off and try, try again.

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