For each issue of Literary Mama, Literary Reflections shares a writing prompt inviting our readers to respond. Our editors provide feedback on these responses, and we post our favorites on the blog. This month’s writing prompt is inspired by Natalie Singer-Velush’s essay, “Bernadette and Me,” and Cheryl Anne Latuner’s essay, “Baby at My Breast—The Path to a Book.”
“Mothers don’t need clocks.” So asserts Natalie Singer-Velush at the beginning of her essay, “Bernadette and Me.” Singer-Velush finds a mentor in Bernadette Mayer and channels the energy derived from this virtual relationship into her own writing, drawing from the routine of her days for inspiration. Of her fascination with Mayer, Singer-Velush writes, “I wonder if it is this―the recognizable familiarity and universality of a day’s necessary routine―that attracts me, as a mother of two young children and a writer working to make space for her art, to a poetic close chronicling of mothering and domestic daily life from more than 35 years ago?” Although she wonders whether writing about motherhood is mundane, she ultimately decides that leaving out those details would be telling a less truthful story.
Cheryl Anne Latuner, in her essay, “Baby at My Breast—The Path to a Book,” also writes about routine and the documentation of her days; in her case, it is the ritual of nursing her daughter that serves as a writing muse. She views nursing as spiritual practice. In writing about nursing, Latuner notes, “I’m trying to open a window into my soul, to show how it feels to know that this activity of nursing my daughter is also an activity of becoming more aware of myself, of the thresholds of my tolerance and of my willingness to give, of my awakening to a rightfulness that transcends my formative cultural experience.” In describing her experience, she connects the story of her past to her present and illuminates a nursing path her daughter and other mothers to come can travel if they so choose.
How do you incorporate stories of motherhood into your writing? If you feel hesitant or, alternatively, called to write about daily life, how do you decide what to include? Tell us about your writing mentor or muse and what gives you strength to tell your tale.
Read Natalie’s and Cheryl Anne’s essays and submit a 500-word response to this writing prompt by November 3 for feedback from our editors. Email it to LMreflections (at) literarymama (dot) com and note “October Prompt” in your subject line. We’ll publish our favorites on the blog.