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Week 6/ November 8/Writing Raw - Page 4

post #61 of 74

Writing goals

I never wrote my writing goals last week. I guess only because my one goal is to actually do it! I used to have a desire to write articles for magazines, but somehow I never had the drive or ambition to really try to do it. Now, I want to do it only for myself. It is the only time I have to myself besides when I take my shower! But, with school, the baby, working part-time frmo home, it's so hard to find time to write, to find time to myself. I guess that's my goal: to find time for myself to reflect and to write.
post #62 of 74


Thank you for sharing so much of yourself in your piece about passion. You are a special woman.
post #63 of 74
About my writing goals: mostly now to capture the moments for which film is not there, or wouldn't get everything anyway.

I'm writing a lot. When I was in elementary school I was told I was very creative and should write stories. As I went along, I was encouraged to write, and I did, was complimented, but never pursued it seriously.

Dh encouraged me to write after we were married and I'd left my job to relocate. I have a novel and a half (a sketchy sequel), which I submitted to agents and publishers about 7 years ago. I had an offer from a romance agent, but I was too much of a snob and I turned her down; she'd ONLY done Harlequin. I signed with another agent, but she seemed to be having personal problems. She would tell me how to edit/improve the work (really great suggestions). I'd get it back to her before her deadline, then she'd be months getting back to me. I called her to ask what was going on, and she told me that my busy schedule due to my career indicated that I did not have a committment to writing. I let my contract run out with her. By then, I was back to professional full speed, but I continued to work on my novel, and I really like it, actually I love it. It's travel trash, it's pretty much romance after all. Not really suprising, since it was inspired by my getting together with Dh. It has a small sci-fi component which needs some updating, but that probably wouldn't be hard. I dream of attending the romance writers convention.

I've kept a journal on and off since I was 14. Since learning I was pregnant, I've written furiously. I did pregnancy writing especially trying to work out issues over becoming a mother. My meditation teacher suggested I write for several days straight on all my fears; I had told him that I was setting them aside because they were things unlikely to happen. But I did what he said and it was very helpful. I made a journal for Dd, things I want her to know, to give her maybe when she is ready to leave for college. I write several times a week in a book (now about 8 notebooks actually), about Dd's activities and my development as a mother.

Red: was it you who raised this topic? For the assignments, and most of my writing, I focus on the JOY. I don't have a lot of time to write. When I look back to remember my past, I want to be sure I've captured as much of the joy as I can. So sometimes I do catharsis, but mostly I leave that unwritten (Dd will inherit all my works, after all). Life is short, time is precious, what do I want to spend my time dwelliing on?


Northport: I think we have a common writing goal, to capture the moments as they happen, the ones that can easily slip away. The ones where, if you had a camera, it wouldn't catch it anyway (unless maybe the camera was in the talented hands of Sagira). I find it interesting that my way to do this is to write an almost journalistic account of the events, maybe hoping to be able to put myself back there if I read in the future. With my journal, there is always the danger of something like: woke up grumpy, better after breakfast and walk, played store, lunch in my lap, no nap, agggh...So I pay a lot of attention to relaying the complete event. What I find so interesting is that you take a very different approach to the same goal, leaving structured language and event description, and going for what might be the internal flow of thought, feeling, and reflection.

Charmarty: your fire piece literally took my breath away. I think I was blue by the time I finished it. The urgency was there. It came through without real paragraph breaks, which usually bothers me, but in this case I felt it was appropriate to the story. And the end, how you were saved by coincidence, left me shaking. There is both story and writing that we are all dealing with, and a good story may be able to tell itself if we step back from worrying about our writing. Maybe that's what the writing raw week was about.

zenfulmama: you are demonstrating the process we are all hopefully going through. Looking at what strengths and lessons our past has given us, and casting away our negativity about ourselves. We can't seem to do this for ourselves, but pull it together for a higher goal, in order to be the best we can be for our children. Your several pieces show you going through that process, how you are living life. When I was pregnant I would have gotten a lot out of your work, because I had a lot of doubts about my ability to be a mother, and you are showing the way to find it.

Technically, in Fire, you conveyed a huge amount in very little space. That gave it real impact.

Autumnschild: I found your style very effective in your telling of the softest touch. None of the foreshadowing I find myself doing. Your simple telling of the story let me feel your shock and disbelief, way more than if you'd made some 'little did I know I was headed for sorrow,' or some such.

heatherdeg: I appreciated the immediacy of Beginning of the End, how you used something that was going on right now, this week, and used that to weave back to the whole story, and then to your reactions. I think you hit on something mothers experience, how our keen understanding of our children can make us seem hystrical and wishing for the worst, when we seek to get real understanding of what's going on. It's a can't win situation that may be part of motherhood: you miss something and you were remiss, you find it, and you're neurotic. You described this more clearly than I did in talking about it, do you know what I mean?

Violafemme: I've been thinking about I am marching alone...a lot. You describe a world I have no idea about. A world I cannot understand people letting their family members enter, especially now that I am a mother. I know it's necessary...I don't want to get OT or offend...That last line, about only being able to raise your hand to your heart, conveyed so much feeling. I'm still not sure I understand, but I FELT - something that has stayed with me all weekend. I think work like this could do a lot to unite differing groups, where understanding seems impossible. But if we could at least be made to feel. You've shown it can be done.

I found the Kathy piece powerful not only because of it's content, but because it delved into an experience that imprinted you before you were a mother. I think it's interesting to look at our pasts and see how they made us not only who we are, but how they may affect what we pass on to our children. Your sentence of what you said to the policeman, we thought it was a peformance, etal, said it all about what must have been swirling inside you, when you didn't say more than that.

Calm: Your image of your toddler is captivating, as was the depiction of a marriage strengthened by the chaos she can bring. I especially liked your depiction of your husband looking at your breakfast and getting out the cereal. My Dh could relate.

mommadance: I'm not the first to say it, but 'intriguing' is the word that comes to mind when reading your 1982. You described one world, and a fall to another of contrast, that leaves the reader wondering.

Sagira: You describe something that is part of all our lives, taking our baby pictures, that is sort of taken for granted, as is the worry we probably all have, and the reality for some, that they will be lost. Between the lines, I think I hear you speak of the fleetingness of memory.

Bostommama: so you admit you are a writer. That explains the level of polish in your work! I loved your story of stopping the corporate sucking of your soul, and finding true inspiration from your baby. The yin and yang of your experience is bound to make you a very effective writer about things that really move you, since you are freed from pretending to be excited about frequent flier bonuses. Good luck on your new path.

Lavender: I was fascinated by your relating anger and fire, from your experience, since in the Chinese medical paradigm they are related...too complicated to detail or maybe I'm just too pooped...I enjoyed seeing how you related the emotion, and the element, and the interplay in your family. Family - the teachers of all.
post #64 of 74


I don't think your softest touch piece was awkward or restrained at all. It is a beautiful, yet tragically sad story. The love, the betrayal, I felt it all. My heart wept for your pain. I hope your writing helps to heal the pain. Thank you for sharing.
post #65 of 74
Wrensmom: I second the person who liked "between love and restraint." It takes me right to the moments where I see snuggling with Dad turning into roughousing, how he's walking that line as he bursts with love.

zenfulmama: about your feedback to me. I've never seen Sex and the City, no television here. But I know it's really popular, so I'm encouraged. I love fluff!
post #66 of 74
I am posting this with Tanya's permission -- I hope some of you are interested.

The wording in an earlier version of this CFP caused some consternation on the activism board (see http://www.mothering.com/discussion...ad.php?t=187788).
In response to these and other concerns, my co-editor and I worked to clarify our intent. Below is our second official call for submissions, which has been modified from
the earlier versions. For those of you who are seeing it for the first time, if you have questions about our intent or focus, my comments in that earlier thread might address them, as might the paragraph below. I am an AP, extended BF, WOHM, in case my mothering "credentials" are of interest. Of course, you can also contact me directly (my email is at the bottom of the call). Hope to hear from you!

Second Call for Submissions: Mother Knows Best

(Please note our new title. We have had several queries from people who have misread our original CFP to be an attack on Dr. Sears and on Attachment Parenting. Therefore, we have modified our call to make more clear our critique of the way in which writers of pregnancy, childbirth, and baby books, rather than mothers (and fathers), are understood to be the experts. As mothers and academics, we as editors envision this collection as a way for mothers (and fathers) to reflect on the meaning
of "expert" advice. Ultimately, we want to deconstruct and analyze the good mothering (and fathering) practices that are defined for us by these "experts," in order to evaluate what good parenting means from a feminist perspective.)

We are seeking papers for a proposed edited collection, Mother Knows Best: Talking Back to Baby "Experts" (new working title). We are looking for a wide breadth of writing for this collection and encourage submissions that "talk back" to childbirth advice (Lamaze, Bradley, etc.), pregnancy advice (for example, the "What to Expect" series, the Sears' books, and Iovine's "Girlfriend's Guide" series), and breastfeeding advice (Kitzinger, La Leche League, etc.) as well as baby trainers (Ezzo, Ferber, Weissbluth, etc.) and other "experts." We are interested in work from a variety of
(inter)disciplines that:
*addresses the white, middle-class, and heterosexist bias of pregnancy, childbirth, and childrearing advice books;
*challenges the way that Sears and others have placed most of the burden of childrearing on mothers and essentialized the role of mothers;
*explores the cultural, class, and racial implications of importing "attachment parenting" for use among primarily white, middle-class, nuclear families;
*debates the pros (for babies/toddlers and mothers) and cons (for mothers) of breastfeeding - and extended breastfeeding - in a feminist context;
*defends certain aspects of baby "experts," or of attachment parenting more generally, again within a feminist context;
*examines the tensions between extremes that set the stage for many of these conflicts: the current state of medicalization of pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding, and the just as insistent promotion of "natural" mothering;
*analyzes any other issues raised by baby "experts," including but not limited to mother's (and fathers') roles in the family, working out of the home mothers, stay at home mothers, daycare, babywearing, cloth diapering, the family bed, crying it out and other forms of sleep training, etc.

We are interested in research/theoretical articles, personal narrative essays, and any combinations of the two. Submissions should be approximately 2,500-6,500 words, and should be sent via email to janathanson@yahoo.com or tuley@mindspring.com by January 1, 2005. Please include the subject line, "book submission," and send your submission as an MS Word or RTF attachment. Please also include full contact information, institutional affiliation (if any), and brief biographical information.
post #67 of 74
I have been amazed by the work I've read. I'm proud to be a part of this group; I'm feeling a little awkward, but I am satisfied to be putting forth an effort.

Writing in the "raw" is really difficult for me. Perhaps I just need to find a topic that hits the right nerve? Otherwise, I tend to write slowly, carefully, deliberately. I try to speak in tiny bursts.
I'm always trying to get rid of fluff. I think I should add this to my list of goals: "Remove more fluff from my writing." My dad, the writer, always used to criticize and mark-up my papers till they bled, for the fluff they contained.


When fifth grade began in the Fall of 1982, our new home room teacher, Mrs. Steele, introduced herself. Her defensive eyebrows and generally attractive set of features were eclipsed by Southern starch and the stale smell of old cigarette smoke, which cast a gray translucence over her perception; once she began speaking, in a sharp, raspy Texan drawl, immediately we knew she was perhaps the most bitter person we had ever met.
post #68 of 74

There’s no face to fire but the ghost of life left behind. It has work to do; there is no thought or conscience attached to fire but a vigor and determination, swift and silent in its occupation, like a manic, detatched agent doing his job, good or bad. Fire appears restless and agitated, but its motive is direct and intentional. It waits for wind to carry it away like a careful opportunist, otherwise crawling and searching, hungry to consume and insatiable in its plight.

I learned how to use a blow torch when I was nine. The soft muffled roar in my hands helped me bubble and scrape fifty years of kitch off the walls of our new Victorian cottage. I hated moving into that house, that old, musty, festering shack. My parents wouldn’t move us to the suburbs to be with normal kids; we had to move into the city and live with raccoons while we renovated a dilapidated Queen Ann cottage. But the blow torch was a vehicle. My mind would drift, and so would the flame’s cone, across the paint and wallpaper, killing the old smells, blistering the ugly veneer and releasing pockets of self pity into the dusty air, clouded with dissatisfaction.
post #69 of 74
The Softest Touch

The air is crisp and my eyes follow a leaf spinning downward, until it lands on my belly.
A flutter of equal loft pats me from within. And again. And then disappears,
yet I’ll wait ten more minutes as leaves fall around me to feel it again. Afterwards, I’ll sit up,
shake my clothes clean, and walk down to the garden, where I’ll cry among the dying basil, and find a rubber octopus in the dirt, the last moonflower curling up on the bean pole. We are so fortunate to have another child.
post #70 of 74
This is one of my passions: quilting. But lately it has been difficult to stay focused, and projects that once were more therapeutic are now hard to complete; they are rushed, frantic and interrupted. I felt like a simpleton writing this excerpt, but this is a slice of my obsession nonetheless:


I need to finish my baby quilt. But my eyes are sore and my back aches and there are dishes in the dishwasher wait no they’re still in the sink.

Okay now they are in the dishwasher, but there is laundry in the dryer that needs to be folded and diapers that need to be washed.

Okay so the laundry is washing and

Okay the laundry is folded. I need to get working on the baby quilt, it’s almost done.
There’s a spider. I wonder what kind of spider that is. Is it a recluse? Wait, let me look that up on the internet.

Okay, it’s not a recluse, which is good because the spider has disappeared. I really need to work on the baby quilt. It’s almost finished and I’d like the baby to enjoy it while he’s still immobile. Coffee sounds terrific right now. I think I’ll make a pot. Oh, not he baby just woke up.

Okay I really need to work on the baby quilt. It’s midnight and the house is quiet. Wait, did I check the mail today? Did the new booties arrive in our box? I need to go check the mail.

Okay, I need to work on the baby quilt. What kind of fabric should I use to bind the quilt? Where is the fleece? Oh, this other fabric looks beautiful, let’s use it. Wait, it would appear too thin. I knew the sherpa fleece would do the job, I’ll go find it.

Here it is. This feels so good. Rich pile. Scissors creep and cut lengths of soft avocado. The sun feels so warm on my back, the green glows with vitality; this color is gorgeous and pure. Tiny needle, tiny hemming, tiny pearl knot, tiny hands touching the applique. There.

“Do you like it?”
post #71 of 74
I am racing to post something before my son awakes and I head up to nurse him down (and go to sleep for the night myself)... So here is freewrite on 1982...

I am sorry if I don't have time to comment on others' writing. I did read everything this evening and wanted to thank you all for your powerful words. I am looking forward to seeing how this community takes shape and where we venture!

Oh, and feedback would be okay. I'm much more interested and passionate about developing some of the earlier things I've posted, so hopefully we'll have time for that, too.

Blessings --

There has always been a hallway of pictures. First there was one in the Ketchikan house, in the hallway to the bathroom. It was a place for school portraits and Halloween costumes and grandmas and grandpas and the fish we caught, the trips we took, the special times we had, birthday cakes, and most mysterious of all: my parents, before we were born. They are young and skinny, facing straight into the future. They are standing in front of a cabin, my dad is sporting Levis and a full head of hair, his arm around my mom. My mom is in a bright yellow coat (she was always cold) and a bandana tied on her hair. Before us.

When my parents retired – in essence, After Us – the hall of fame (and shame – all those bad 80s haircuts!) moved with them to the Lummi Island house. So each time I visit my folks, I visit my past – or my past visits me, wraiths of our former selves echoing the hall. And our not so former selves. Sometimes our present is right there in our past.

1982. Two pictures. Two families. Dueling portraits. Not formal ones, but the kind taken when you’re all dressed up with someplace special to go, and you’re all together, at the same time looking your very best. There are two pictures because it’s 1982, before self-timers. At least in our family’s technological landscape. One picture is taken by my dad, the other is taken by my mom.

We’re all dressed up and standing in the living room, in front of the big oil painting of a snow blue mountain – Denali, I think. Though Denali is nowhere near the Alaska we live in: Southeast. We’ve always had this painting – my dad bought it when he and my mother moved to Alaska from California, in 1966. The artist was going to “make it big,” then. I don’t think he ever did make it big, but I grew up seeing his work every day.

We’re standing in the living room, in front of the mountain painting. In one picture, taken by my dad, it is us three kids and my mom. In the other, it’s us three and my dad.

The first family portrait: My mom in the middle, her daughters on either side of her, and her son (the baby) in front. We’re all dressed up and we’re laughing our asses off. My dad, undoubtedly, has said something terrifically funny, and we’re laughing. My brother’s mouth is wide open, his gum in mid-chew. He’s nine. He chews gum. I am laughing, too, my face and shoulders all squeezed up, my cheeks pink and eyes smiled shut. It’s an uncontrollable sort of sneak-up-on-you laugh. I am twelve. I am right there, on the cusp of teenhood… my hair permed but unstyled, my dress borrowed from my mom (or my sister?), my body free of makeup and carrying the tiniest bumps of beginning breasts. Niki, my older sister, firmly located in the land of teendom, is practically too cool to laugh, to even be in this family at all, but she’s laughing too. She can’t help it. My mom. I can’t see my mom. When I conjure this photo in my mind’s eye, I can’t see her, not clearly. I see her, but I see her in the dress I am pretty sure I am wearing in this photo, which maybe was hers in the first place.

The second family portrait: My dad is now in the middle, in a tan corduroy blazer, his arms around each of his daughters, pulling us in. We’re both angled almost sideways, he’s squeezing us so tight. I am grimacing and pulling away, caught in the middle of a “Daaaaaaad.” My sister is limp, smiling blandly. My brother is straight and rigid, his hands so far down his pockets his arms are locked straight, his face pulled back in a hesitant, small worried smile. Like when you’re about to witness an accident or a wipe-out, nothing life-threatening but something bound to be painful and unpleasant.


I’ve walked by these photos over and over. They are up there, in the Wall of Fame and Shame at my parents’ house, amid all the other stories…. The hallway of family pictures that somehow stops ten or so years ago. Where are the latest incarnations of ourselves? Is it not history enough? Or really, it’s just a practical thing: there is no more room…

I’ve seen these two pictures so many times and each time it like seeing them new: There! It’s right there! This is the whole story.

If only I could tell it. This is the third time in as many months I’ve written about these photos. Each time, I describe them. Each time, I finish describing them. And that’s it.

What more can be said? We’re a family.
post #72 of 74

Fire: A Defining Moment

It was a balmy summer night in the hills outside of town. We were gathered there, perched amongst the boulders, a diverse group of teens who were little more than strangers. A scruffy haired boy, about fifteen, was building a fire while the others looked on. Parked nearby was a battered pickup with the stereo playing. Jim Morrison's voice wafted through the air, hypnotic. "Strange days have found us..."

The mood was tranquil amongst the group. There were some huddled near the fire, passing around a poorly rolled joint. Two were in the pickup having a quiet discussion. I was off to the side, alone on a big flat boulder, dancing to The Doors. I spun in lazy circles, entranced by the trails flowing from the fringe on my coat sleeves and the tips of my fingers. I was contemplating the bright perfection of the moon.

My moment of clarity was interrupted by a call from the truck, a cry touched with panic. I slid from the rock and approached with trepidation. I had not been prepared to see what I saw there. Two of the oldest boys, about eighteen or so, were holding the scruffy haired boy by his feet. One grabbed the tap from the keg and stuffed it into the boy's mouth as he gagged and tried to yell and gagged some more. They dragged him to the fire and proceeded to beat him until he could not stand. One would hold him up while the other, with a flying leap, would drop-kick him in the face. He hit the ground. In an instant, the other pulled him back upright to repeat the process.

I had never witnessed anything like this in my life. When I had left with these people, they were merely good-natured strangers who knew the scruffy haired boy I was with. The same boy who had told me to stick out my tounge, placing a small square of paper on it. The paper had an acrid taste, but I soon forgot about it. I was enchanted by the sky, the trees and the colors. Now, the colors were forgotten. I felt an overwhelming sense of injustice and rage. The fire blazed brighter and hotter and before I knew what I was doing, I flew shrieking at those horrible cruel young men.

I landed on the back of the tallest of the two. He had long black hair and looked to be of Native American descent. I clung to his back like a rabid animal, screaming unintelligably as I tried in vain to tear at his eyes. He must have thrown me, for the next thing I knew, I was falling, falling through the air. The landing knocked the wind out of me, but the rage inside me was a fire growing hotter and hotter. I stood slowly, brushing off bits of gravel embedded in my knees and the palms of my hands.

This time, I did not make a sound. Within a second, I was standing in the fire with a blazing piece of wood in my hand. I must have looked a sight! I raised the fiery staff and letting out a yell, came running out of the fire. They turned and ran, like they had seen the devil himself. The fire, the moment and the night consumed me and I remember no more.

I recovered remarkably unphased by the incident. It had little impact on me until, years later, I ran into the two offending young men at a party. I did not even recognize them at first. One spotted me and went quickly into another room. The other, his brother it turns out, came out and looked at me. His face went pale. He rushed from the room, muttering jibberish under his breath. Later a friend came over and asked me what that was all about. He said the guy was talking some kind of crazy talk about a girl coming out of the fire. I realized then who it was.

I laugh now to think of it. I was so young then, not the type who could intimidate anyone. But the fury at the injustice raged from within and took over. I was more than just a lost girl amongst a group of strangers. I became that fury, that fire. I was in the moment. Thinking back now, as a woman recalling girlhood, I realize what a defining moment that was for me. There was something very essential, some essence of me born of that moment...the girl who came out of the fire.
post #73 of 74

Color as Passion, Passion as Color

What is the color of passion? Red, red is the color. And what is the color of blue? It is ice, it is cold. Where the fire and the ice meet it is a clear icy blue calm in the sea of swirling everything else. I think in color. I feel in colors. The paint that flows through my life is a rich brown-black fading into a ribbon of translucent gray. I have been void of color recently, my colors and feelings suspended. Where is the passion. Where do the colors flow?
post #74 of 74
Thanks for feedback on my wiritng. I have fedback for some, but I didn't get to everybody. I'll keep trying. I have throroughly enjoyed reading the postings here. What a terrific forum for women.

Calm – I loved your “Morning in the Life of Fire.” I do not usually see pictures in my head when I am reading, but I could definitely see the breakfast scene in your piece. All the little details and expressions give the piece reality and clarity.

Zenfulmama – Your poem does a good job creating a rapport with the reader in the first few lines. I especially liked the lying to the teacher about siblings and pets. It gives the reader a flavor for the persona of the little girl. This sense of attachment creates a stronger message in the second half.

Sagira – I liked the juxtaposition of what was once a hobby becoming something that your son has made into a necessity. The passion for your son and your photography shines through in the last paragraph.

Charmarty – I agree with Curious. Your piece on fire had intensity and a sense of urgency that makes one hold one’s breath.

Insomniamama – “1982” - What a character sketch you create in just a few sentences! I want to know more about this lady and how she is going to torture her students. “Fire” – I reread your first line three times I liked it so much. It is one of those lines that has the essence of truth in it. I thought the personification or fire added life to the piece.
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