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post #21 of 74
It's hard for me to remember the names with the stories, but they all hit me very hard. Some incredible writers here. Do you think being a mommy makes us somewhat more able to control our emotion enough to channel it here? Like the responsibility of it enables us to come down from just "feeling" and let us put it into words?

And it's so strange how each of us writes about such very different things, and still they provoke such vivid images.

It's never been hard for me to dump raw emotion on paper--but I have NEVER shared it.

And zenfulmama... I have a similar past--and like you, I never wanted pity. I never talked about it because it always provoked the "I'm so sorry"s and "Aaaaawww"s that drove me insane. I know exactly how you feel when people do anything in any way, shape or form that resembles sympathy for the past. I can't stand it. My past was what it was and it made me who I am today--someone I'm incredibly proud of. I'm guessing you must feel the same. Kudos to us who make it through and CAN begin a normal family instead of repeating the cycle.
post #22 of 74

1982 was the year I was admitted to the hospital. I only stayed there one night, but I was terrified. I cried and thrashed around when the people dressed in white inserted the large needle in my arm. I called the nurse I don’t know how many times so that I can have someone else there in the dark with me. I sniffled for hours, staring at that door for someone to come take me home. What was happening? I was feeling sick, when I peed it hurt, but this was far worse. Being abandoned, left alone. I felt sad, terrified, like an alien being dissected by earthlings. I wanted my father. I needed my parents, my grandmother. I was five years old.


The fire in my soul is not yet dead
Even though you can’t see it in my eyes anymore
The ember is still there

I will fight for what is mine
I will claim what was denied me
I will seize the torch that fell

I will carry it high, defend it mercilessly
For one day, not too far away, I will need to pass the torch
And the fire will be blazing

The softest touch

Like water, I feel tiny fingers brush up against me. If I pay close attention, I can even feel the touch of his toe against my belly. His tongue tickles my nipple in an upward notion while his fingers turn to lightly caressing the other nipple. He’s in rapture, I’m amused. Someone who didn’t like to be touched too much now is being touched what feels like all day, either by baby or husband. And I actually like it. I cherish the moments baby and I have together because I know he’s already a toddler and soon won’t want to nurse anymore. I already mourn the day, the day I will have to part with the softest touch.
post #23 of 74
The softest touch...

I spent the day before preparing you. Tomorrow morning Mama has to get up early. A taxi will come and take me to a meeting. It'll be just like I'm at work, only a little earlier. And I'll be home a little later. When you and Grandma are finishing quiet time, I'll be back.

You gave all the usual arguments. Don't go Mama. They don't need you! I need you!! I'll miss you. I want to come with you. Stay home.

Dh warned me the morning would be torture. You crying, holding onto me. I laid out my killer red dress, my high heeled shoes that would make me tall, a pair of pantyhose, rarely worn, with no holes, a bra...when's the last time I wore one...gathered my papers, and went to bed, thinking positive.

I woke gradually to nursing. A change of side. It's almost 6:30, Dh said. I hoped you'd nurse back to sleep and I could slip away, unlikely as it was that you'd sleep through my scent leaving the room. You nursed and nursed but did not go through that slowing and weakening of suck that shows you're going back to sleep. I looked at you in the darkness. Your eyes were open. You were smiling at me.

Good morning smiley.

You got up to help me get ready for my meeting.

No, she got up to keep me from going, but she was willing to go along with this game. She sat up in bed. “I'm got up to help you get ready for your meeting!”

She was brave while she helped me set up her breakfast, write a note of instructions to Grandma, and get dressed. She was brave when Dh carried her to the door to see me out to my taxi. She was brave when she kissed and hugged me and noserubbed me goodbye and turned her cheek so I could press my face to it, and sniff her, before I left. The softest touch.
post #24 of 74

I have always been afraid my home would burn. When I lived in New York City, I was finally at ease in my bed at night when I lived in an edifice of concrete and firewalls that were real firewalls, not computer firewalls. When I left the land of apartment buildings, I hoped to find a house made of stone, rather than of wood.

I have joked about it, because that's the only way I could talk about it all. Before the last time, there were many other times.

This is not the first time I've had a black cat, not the first time I've healed with plants, or with my hands. Today these things are considered amusing quirks, but not always. Once, in the verdant pastures of Britain, or Ireland, or Scotland, or Salem, these were the sure signs of witchcraft.

Not quickly, in a conflagration like in the movies, but slowly, with green wood slowly increasing heat biting first at your toes, then your ankles, until you'd scream in agony for hours, from the pain, from losing your chilren, and for them losing their mother, having to watch each other as the flames strained for life, taking your flesh for their strength, and your neighbors, ones you probably healed, stood there with their smug faces, screaming back that you are getting what you deserve. Burn witch, burn.
post #25 of 74
A defining moment...

I think of the big moments, but the times my life has really taken the twists and turns that have defined it's course, is in small, almost random decisions.

Like the one I made to take up horseback riding. Because my boyfriend complained that there was nothing to do where I lived, which meant that every weekend I should be the one to commute to him in New York City. Never mind, we should have been able to be happy together anywhere, but that's another story...

I lived in an area a colleague called a haven for the very weatlthy, and the doing pretty well but poor in comparison. I had a pretty 4 room co-op apartment on the grounds of what had once been a grand estate. There were several stables nearby, where the elite kept their horses and elite little girls took riding lessons.

My boyfriend rode horses, so in the interests of developing my ability to do this along with him, at these very stables near my home, I signed up. Little did I know, this was the pinnacle action that would do nothing to further my closeness to my boyfriend, but would eventually trot me right to my husband's arms.

But first, I had to be injured. I was riding Erin, the docile horse for beginners. We were trotting along merrily. Suddenly, Erin stopped and lowered her head to take a nibble of grass. My body did not stop. I felt myself about to head right down her neck and off of her. I had a flash of myself head injured in an intensive care unit. I tucked my left thumb into the reins and leaned to the left to grasp the fence right nearby. Then Erin started her trot again. I was half on the fence. My thumb was in the rein.

Not a life threatening injury, but my thumb looked funny and hurt too much for me to see if it moved. I already disliked the muckiness and the bounciness of the horseback riding, the way Erin totally ignored my kicks, and now all I could think was, this relationship booster was not worth the trouble this injury will cause.

The next day I went to work and showed it to one of the orthopedic surgeons. In the dim hallway light and in the five o'clock shadow he wore at 7:30 in the morning, I could see his grim expression. I'd torn an important ligament. My thumb would never be the same. It would cause me some bit of trouble doing procedures. There was nothing to do for it other than splint it for 10 weeks while it heals. The bright side was I'd never be caught by suprise by the rain, because I could count on getting arthritis that would cause pain before every storm.

We had a former chairman, professor emeritus, who offered me acupuncture. Sure. Ten weeks later I took off the splint and had therapy. A few weeks later, my hand was perfect. I could hardly remember which hand I'd injured. And there I was, director of the pain clinic, and I couldn't do that for anyone. So I told my chairman I was obligated to learn acupucture.

He agreed to the principle, but wouldn't give me the time off for the program I selected. When he was on vacation, I learned about another program that was on a different schedule. Admission was almost closed. I applied for the program and by the time my chairman returned, I was in and had paid my deposit. Now he had to let me go.

I got to the course, jet laggy, and tired. I was still recoverying from emergency surgery for a sudden life threatening condition. I was a little late the first morning. I entered the large conference room, full of mostly men, a few women. In the back row, tipping his chair on the back legs, was a lanky guy nonchalantly running his hands through luxuriant hair. Our eyes locked. He looked like a surfer. There was an empty seat next to him. I turned my gaze a little further toward the front of the room and went to sit next to someone less – less – well, someone less --- I don't know. I didn't know, had no idea, no clue, never would have imagined what I know now, that in that moment I walked away from the really cute guy whose hair looked like gold in the sun, who looked like the sort who could have anything in the world he wanted, but who I didn't know sat there having lost his dreams and trying to take his life back, that I was walking away from my future husband.

It was quite a while after that first glance at each other, that we got together. Still, though it turned out our paths almost crossed many times before, I might never had met him had I not one day drove past a stable while pondering my boyfriend trouble, said to myself, maybe I should learn to ride a horse.
post #26 of 74
Fire. I think that woman is on fire, I mean I know she is on fire but does she mean to be? She isn't screaming or rolling; she looks like she is trying to dance. A tiny figure in all those orange flames stumbling and arcing her arms. A policeman runs up and puts his jacket on her, pulls her to the ground and puts out the flames. A crowd is gathering. I shake myself loose and walk back to work.

I know who the woman is. She has been a figure on this campus for years. The crazy lady AKA Kathy Change has frequently been here in front of the library dancing her protest of the establishment. Usually she is wearing as little as she can legally get away with. It always looked cold to me, except in the summer when I was a bit envious of her. She wasn't cold today. I thought she was wearing a suit of some kind, but she wasn't. The smell of burning flesh as I made my way back to work told me that she wasn't.

I walk in to the office and say "I think I just saw some one burn to death". Then I walk out. Later the secretary will tell me that she thought I was kidding. I was so unemotional, so detached she thought I was kidding.

I leave work to go to an organ recital at Irvine Autitorium. It's Joe Jackson. He's one of the best organists in the city. A policeman finds me in the middle of it. The secretary told him I saw the burning when he went looking for witnesses. He found me in an organ recital and I leave with the officer in the middle of it.

I go to the police station and give them my statement. I am very matter-of-fact. I show no emotion. "No one moved to help her. She never called for help. We were all frozen watching her last performance. We thought it was a performance. It looked like a performance". It was a performance. The policeman says she left a note, a 30 page note actually outlining everything she was protesting and why she felt that setting herself on fire in front of the library was her only chance of being heard. She set her self on fire to kill herself as a protest against violence. The irony strikes me as painful. She didn't suceed on the lawn. She is in the ICU at HUP now. They will call me when they know more.

I meet my friend Dave at the police station. He's been giving a statement as well. He's not a friend really, he was the roommate of a guy I dated. He was in the library when she self-emolated. He watched from an upstairs window. He couldn't smell the burning flesh, but he could ser charred bits of flesh floating on the breeze of a sunny spring day like some sort of macabre confetti.

We must be in shock. We don't want to be alone so we go to a sports bar. Usually we would have gone to a gay bar or a martini bar, but the sports bar is closer and we want to be somewhere where nobody knows our names. We sit at the bar drinking beer. We don't talk much. We aren't really friends but it's some kind of comfort to be with someone who is seeing the same firery images played over and over in the mind like a silent horror movie. We finish our beer and leave. He walks east and I walk west.

The next day the officer calls. Kathy Change is dead.
post #27 of 74
My themes may change but my writing pattern always seems the same. I don't find myself writing about my emotions, or my inner experience. I find myself before the computer, transported to other times, immersed right back in the experience.

I don't know if my writing comes across as impersonal, overly objective and non emotional, or if the emotion is conveyed in the stories. What I like about going through the stories, is that they are of things that no camera can ever capture. I'm not sure if this is 'raw.' I could think of more 'raw' things in my life to write about, but I've spent no time on Dh, as I find he is beyond words. So I wanted to spend some time remembering our first meeting and how it came about, for the defining moment assignment.

I am reallly moved by the stories and writing here. I agree with the person who asked, does motherhood open up something that fosters writing. There is an openness to the world that motherhood brings on, so yes, I would say.

I want to comment more, but it's late and I want to wait until I'm awake and better able to devote the attention that is deserved.
post #28 of 74

I love the lines "unlikely as it was that you'd sleep through my scent leaving the room." and "but would eventually trot me right to my husband's arms."

I also like what you did with the "fire" assignment because of how it comes from place not just part of autobiographical events (in this life anyway) but from a place in your mind/heart. Does that make sense? I like how you went from the concrete world to the spiritual one through the conduit of fire. (I wonder if that sentence only makes sense in my mind) At least that's how it seems to me. I like how your pieces are contained too, just enough information but not too much.
post #29 of 74
Fire. Fire that burns in my belly. Makes me strong and alive. Gives me inspiration and clarity. Takes some effort to get going but only needs attention to maintain. Circles and licks the edges of intuition. Swirls and rolls through my soul. Orange and red dance together. Swaying and seeing truth. Truth to be told. Truth to be seen. Truth to behold. The fire that burns in my belly I want to nourish and call forth.

I just wanted to get this posted since it seems like I keep missing the weekly deadline.
post #30 of 74
the softest touch is what I want to pass on. teaching kidness and spreading love.
the softest touch, your hands feel like silk passing across my face.
the softest touch I recieve from any part of your skin. so smooth, sweet, and innocent.
the softest touch is a dance between love and restraint.
the softest touch is your gift to me and my gift to you.
post #31 of 74
Your fire story and the style in which it is told captivates me. If you were looking for a brilliant beginning to a novel, I'd say you found it. Could it be the beginning of a suspense novel or short story? And the name, "Kathy Change," so intriguing. I want to know more. I want to know what those 30 pages said. For a suspense novel could there be a sinister plot to kill Kathy anyway? Does she know too much about some dictator in Latin America that she was fleeing from? Did she witness a murder that drove her crazy? And then was driven even more insane when no one would listen? Could it be that she killed herself since she knew that she was going to be killed anyway? I'm reading Julia Alvarez'sIn the Time of Butterflies and perhaps this is influencing my thoughts on your story...But, the names and details that you give in your story beg to be characterized. I must ask Is this fiction or is this real? Whatever it is, I want more of this story. The narrators voice is so sophisticated--the perfect heroine to speak for Kathy Change, tell her story, and solve the mystery...I love, "He couldn't smell the burning flesh, but he could see charred bits of flesh floating on the breeze of a sunny spring day like some sort of macabre confetti." It sends shivers down my spine. Good Work!
post #32 of 74
I enjoyed your story because it gives me an experience very different from my own, yet I can share it. If that makes sense. I think that is what makes reading so addictive--we escape, we transcend, we experience something that is not us, or we share something that is us: the joy of mothering, the pain of mothering, healing our inner child...

Not to trivialize your work, but it reads a bit like Sex in the City but more real. Ok, I LOVE Sex in the City. I think it is brilliant. So for me that is a complement...I hope that you don't take it the wrong way. Which brings me to another issue: It is so hard to give feedback this way...In your comments you wrote that you feel that you may not be writing raw, but transporting yourself back to the experience...that, for me, is writing raw. And you do a great job, you transported me to your experience as well. You left me wanting more of your story...

A comment on my own writing: I need to write more about the myriad of different experiences that I've had that are suspenseful,exciting, beautiful, and fun, but it seems I can't get past all of what feels to be sad and pathetic and not so intriguing to read about. As a writer, I want to intrigue the reader--not make them feel sorry for me. A lot of what I write here might be pitiful and pathetic--but I feel it is a writer's forum as well as sounding board, and obviously if it is coming out of me it needs to be...
post #33 of 74

The Softest Touch

The Softest Touch
Whispers to me in the morning
So loudly
Beckoning milk from my breast
Tiny fingertips tickle my belly
Eyes still closed seeing with hands
Touching mama’s skin
Calling to me needing
Life force sustenance

Suckling begins
Love pours forth from
Pituitary glands
And other body parts
That connect me to him
He is me from me
But separate seeking
post #34 of 74
Wow! What a group! I have so enjoyed reading all of your writings, hearing what you have to say, how your experiences differ from my own.

And you are fantastic writers!

I am not doing the homework quite write this week. I have b een fighting a depression, probably die to a medication I'm taking and can't risk 'raw', since for me that will mean pain, not joy.

Can anyone tell me how to write raw from JOY? Really.

Anyway, here's the letter to the publishers and agents I've written. I've been submitting and getting rejected. I wondered if maybe anyone here could comment and tell me if they could think of ways to improve my letter. I wrote the freaking book, you'd think I could get it published. This many rejections into it, I can take critisism. Go ahead and tell me!

Dear Madam;

Abandoned children surround us. Often we don’t think of them as abandoned. These children aren’t left on church steps or dropped off at fire stations; they are simply left in their homes, not knowing they’ve been abandoned until someone finds them. Some are lucky enough to have a grandparent or another relative take them in. Others wind up in foster homes or residential schools, waiting for their parents' unlikely return. However, there are others, children who slip through the cracks, who don’t have any close relatives, who aren’t found by a neighbor or police or social worker.

As the biological child of active foster parents for the state of Massachusetts, I met many children who survived on their own, sometimes for days, other times for months. Often their parents would come for a visit and I would sit, fascinated, trying to figure these people out.

I would like to write a series of fictional books about children, from babies to teens, who are abandoned. These stories would encompass the lives of both the children and of those around them.

Lost and Found is the first of the series. It’s the story of Angie, a baby left in the arms of a young woman in a department store while her teenage mother runs to the ladies room. The woman finds herself in an unique situation and struggles to find an equally unique solution.

I have attached the entire manuscript.

Thank you for considering my work.

post #35 of 74
Oooh, I hated writing and not getting to reply to each other! It wa like writing into a black hole.

Curious, I loved where you said you went to sit with someone less...I knew exactly how that went, I could see it, and you said so little. Great.

violafemme, I had to stop reading! How awful! Very powerful piece

Comments always welcome on my work!


Fantastic , marvelous, wonderous!
In 1982 I met my son for the first time. He was 4 days old.

What an incredible day it was, rushing to the store to buy a mattress for the basinette, pillowcases to serve as sheets. My best friend went with me; fitting since she and I were his parents for the first year.

I was a few months late getting back, rushing. Dee had to leave to go to work and I was busy getting things ready. And then they were there! Myorange hair, newly permed into an unfortuate afro was blown by the wind and stood like a giant pom-pom. I was embarrassed to meet his mother in this condition.

I wanted so badly to carry the baby upto my apartment, but his mother cradled him gently in her arms and climbed the long flight of stairs. I followed behind with the social worker, carrying suitcases, boxes of diapers and formula.

I waited all the next day. Sooner or later she'd want a shower while he was awake. I could be patient.

Dee arrived a 1:00, as always, for a cup of tea and conversation. SHe introduced herslef and asked if she could hold the baby.

And his mother let her! Jealousy nearly ate me up! I'd asked! An been told 'no'. ANother day passed.

But like every mother, everywhere, eventually she needed to put her baby down. And I was there, waiting.

Dee was asked to be his godmother and again I burned with jealousy. Envy. I was the one who let this mother and child have a safe place to bond, Iwas the one making the sacrifices.

I thank God now that it was Dee who made that woman/girl feel safe. Safe enough to walk away, leaving her son in his bassinette. With me.

My son! Who I may hug and hold and love, forever.

The softest touch

We called it 'gentle face rubs'. Little Nikki, tiny hands outstretched, would place one on each of our cheeks and, with infinite tenderness, rub and pat us. Until we learned to say, "Oh, please, can I have a gentle face rub", instead of asking for kiss.

Her hands were the softest things I have ever felt. SHe would concentrate, so intense on getting this just right, on giving pleasure instead of receiving it.

She outgrew this talent, this ability to bring joy by amssaging our cheeks. Though now she can massage the exhaustion out of aching shoulders with ease, but nothing compares to those tiny hands. The softest touch. My daughters year old hands, feather light and loving, giving me a gentle face rub.

(Darn, I miss those!)
post #36 of 74
Thread Starter 
Dear Red,

I support you entirely in moving your work into the world. In terms of your letter; when you are dealing with the business of writing, I've found that it is essential to describe your market in the cover letter. In other words, who is going to buy this book? Why are they going to buy this book? How do you know? (statistics on the internet?) Is there any other book on the market that addresses the same topic? What makes yours unique?

Publishers want you to do the homework for them. Even if an editor sees a book that sparks her interest, she's going to have to get the marketing department behind her to publish the book.

Also, instead of sending her the entire manuscript, how about sending her a standard book proposal? It may come across as more professional. A book proposal, for anyone who's interested ,usually consists of a cover letter,cover page, table of contents with a brief description of each chapter (2-3 lines), two full chapters and a marketing plan (very important). A marketing plan gives an idea of how and where the book could be featured.(magazines that would be interested in your subject matter etc.)

On a personal note, the way I got The Cancer Monologue Project published was to first, secure a story on it in a national woman's magazine for breast cancer awareness month. Then, based on the national publicity I was able to get a book deal with Mac Adam Cage.

I also reccomend Sherry Bykofsky's, Idiot's Guide to getting published. She's a really wonderful book agent and she breaks the process down into small do-able pieces.

Red, we're with you all the way! Tanya
post #37 of 74


1982 was the year I broke from the little Lutheran school to the big wide world of public school. Instead of a class of 30 I was a tiny fish in a class of nearly 1000. I was always a tiny fish though, a timid goldfish invisible between the glass of the bowl and the water where the other fishes swam and played.

I opened myself to the world. I opened to the boys and the drinking and the ways I thought I was supposed to be as a young teen. I became someone else. If I were my mother I would have kept me home and locked me in a room! I was that bad. I cringe now, I cringe thinking about the smoking and the words coming out of that girl's mouth and the things she learned to do with her body. The boys she allowed to touch it, the way she let everyone walk all over her and straight through her changing her forever with their ripping and shredding.

This girl I was, I can't speak to her now. She lived by different rules. She wanted to hurt them, she wanted to hurt herself. She wanted most of all to be left alone, to be cared for, to be respected, maybe yes oh what she wanted was to be FEARED. She was taught to fear at that cozy little private school with the girls in designer jeans and the boys at their youth groups. She was taught to obey.
post #38 of 74


Fire. I am a fire sign. My dad is a fire sign. I try not to take these things too seriously but how can I not when it is obvious we are both made out of fire? We at times can be composed entirely of flame. When my dad stood over me when I was fifteen as he yelled and I lay there fully deserving it and amazed in the blazing heat of his fury I saw him red flaming and ready to burst. I was scorched and maybe at that moment I was lit also.

My tantrums later were lit from the same fire. My yelling in frustration at my little sweet boy when I was big and heavy and aflame, burning up with heat and anger. I broke his toy when I threw it, my pregnant body, carrying who was to be water. My first was air. He feeds the flames. I heat him. We play off each other if not careful and with each other at the best of times. This waterboy quenched my fiery body. He brought us to a place of cool and calm when he arrived.

My candle is still lit, like a pilot light and I still sometimes burst into flames, but it is tamer now, it is a glow, a slow burning ember that is at my center. New things light it. Anger has slowed. Passions bring it to the surface where it can still leave red sore raw marks on others and I must control it, use it, help it help me grow. Keep myself warm on a winters night. Use it for cooking, for nourishing, use it, as the boys would say, for the good.
post #39 of 74
Wow, everybody, just WOW. I read through most of the work and I am hearing so many different voices, all unique and all so interesting.

A couple of questions...

1. I noticed people are asking if they can join, or saying that they didn't join because it was too late. I never asked. I just started posting. Also, I can't get to all the assignments. Is this acceptable?

2. I am seeing such varying lengths. How flexible are the time limits? (I am most likely slower than most because I write longhand then type it in after.) Are we to cut off when the buzzer sounds or keep going until we feel "done"?

Thank you!
post #40 of 74

The softest touch

The softest touch...that is what I've been looking for. In a world of boys and men, my world, there is no soft touch! They are all bumps and bruises, thrusts and rolls. I can't make them be soft but I can make myself fly across the room at the slightest touch, no matter how rough it is.

I used to long for the soft, and sometimes I still do. My mother's touch was soft. She would brush my hair back behind my ears and I felt like a kitten. I give the boys the same softness so they know how soft feels. They do sometimes manage, for a little while, to be soft, especially my littlest when cozy in a blanket but then blam kick bang, they are off and running throwing rolling.

The softest touch I know from my husband is a moment I have to reach deep to recall. There is not enough touch. What touch there is feels confining, controlling, manipulative at worst, needy at best. I shall try to soften my touch as well or maybe I should do just the opposite. I live in this world surrounded by so many boys and men. The softest touch comes from the one who dances still, the minimalist we call him. When I danced with him last even he was not as soft as usual. Last night Joe said he felt bad that I was there with so much testosterone after being surrounded by it all day and all I could do was laugh and say, “I grew up with boy cousins and a brother. I'm used to it!” Am I? Where is my mother??
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