October 2013 marked Literary Mama’s ten year anniversary! On Wednesdays for the next few months we’ll celebrate this milestone with editors and columnists, both past and present. They’ll share what being a part of Literary Mama has meant to them, what they hope for the future of the magazine, and how Literary Mama has shaped their writing, their mothering, and their lives.
Ericka Lutz– Founding Editor and Columnist
The publishing industry can be a cold, cruel place, even when your work is getting accepted and published. Ten years ago, I was in a hard place. The seven commercial parenting books I’d authored (along with teaching and technical writing) paid the bills. Yet I felt segregated into a “parenting advice book” ghetto. I knew few writers in my genre, and I felt isolated and disrespected. Who cared about mother writers? In between writing parenting advice books, I was writing (and publishing in literary journals) short stories and essays. That’s where where my heart was. But the two parts of my life didn’t mesh. I felt split, and I felt invisible.
Then, Amy Hudock invited me to speak to her writing group in Berkeley. I entered a room where kids played quietly in the corner, a childcare worker keeping them entertained. The writers – all mothers of the young children — sat in separate circle talking. Sometimes their children came over to check in, or to nurse for a moment, but they didn’t distract the women from their discussion. I was impressed by the setup but more so by the women, smart, engaged, and dedicated to their writing. They met every week to generate real stories of motherhood. Raw. Honest. Beautiful. Here were women – mothers – telling their stories without the sugar coating.
I left that meeting completely inspired. My daughter was ten; it had been a long decade of writing about motherhood all alone. This approach, this community, was what I’d wanted all along.
Shortly after the meeting, Amy asked me if I wanted to be part of creating a literary journal. “We’re taking the group online,” she told me. “Would you like to be part of it? We could use a Fiction Editor.”
I jumped at the opportunity. I plunged into it.
It was exciting; working closely with the group to formulate our mission statement and original calls for submission. Meeting mother writers – so many of them! Fielding submissions from amazing writers who I admired, who had pieces that had never been placed elsewhere (too “mother-y,” too raw, too vulnerable) but were perfect for Literary Mama.
Literary Mama grew, and I learned and grew along with it. I edited the Fiction department for a couple of years. Then, I served for a while as Co-Senior Editor. I wrote a column, Red Diaper Dharma, where I had not only permission but encouragement to explore deep issues of family and how it related to my parenting. I wrote guest columns and published essays and short stories of my own on the site.
Literary Mama gave me a place to marry my creative writing with my parenting writing (and editing). I had an audience that I cared about. And knowing the smart readers that would be reading my work, I pushed myself. I became a better writer, a better editor. I learned from my colleagues at Literary Mama.
Literary Mama gave me permission to become an integrated writer, to share my truths, and to trust myself. Literary Mama was a gift to me. A community. A home.