Literary Reflections is pleased to present our featured writing prompt response from September. We asked “Who or what is your muse? In what way has she/he affected your writing?”
Cara Holman wrote:
“Whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always the same for as long as I remember. “A mathematician,” I would answer. I could have added “just like my mom,” but that went without saying. I greatly admired my mother, who managed to instill her enthusiasm for mathematics in us to such an extent that four of her five children followed in her footsteps when it came to picking careers.
That might well have been the end of it, but deep down inside, I had a secret love in life, and that was writing. It was more than a love really, it was almost a compulsion. Words bubbled up inside of me, and it was all I could do to get them down on a paper before they vanished. I spent many happy hours in my childhood with pen in hand, scribbling away in my ever increasing stack of notebooks. Writing became my way of processing the sometimes bewildering but always endlessly fascinating world around me.
As an adult, I still wrote from time to time, but it was only a hobby for me, one that I didn’t really take very seriously, and all but gave up with the birth of my first child. I “retired” then from the workforce, fully immersing myself in the world of motherhood. It was nearly two decades later that writing came back into my life again — when I spotted a colorful flyer announcing a writing group for women cancer survivors in my oncologist’s office. I felt the familiar thrill at the thought of writing, and knew this group was something I just had to try. I was hooked, from that very first day.
“A writer is someone who writes,” our facilitator encouraged us, and I marveled that it was really that simple. For years, I had defined a writer as “someone whose work has been published,” and it seemed just about as likely that I win the lottery as get something published. Through our weekly writing group, I finally discovered that indeed, “everyone has a strong unique voice,” and that my voice was as worthy of being listened to as anyone else’s.
My mother was my greatest supporter in my fledgling writing career, believing in me long before I believed in myself. Sadly, I didn’t have a chance to share many of my pieces with her, because just as my writing was really taking off, she was shockingly diagnosed with terminal cancer — and the ending was swift.
She has become my muse now, and whenever I feel discouraged and wonder whether I’ve got what it takes, her words come back to me: “You’ve got a talent honey, nourish it.” My life has taken a totally different direction since that first momentous day of writing group two years ago, and mom’s words of encouragement helped lead the way.”
Cara Holman may be contacted at: cara(dot)holman(at)gmail(dot)com.