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Georgia: Those Literary Mamas Know How to Inspire

georgiaSomething wonderful happened last Friday night.

It was one of those nights that stands out and can inspire for days, months, who knows…even years. I had put the event on my Facebook calendar at least a month in advance.

In conjunction with the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference being held in Chicago, Literary Mama editors and columnists were having a reading at an independent bookstore. I even put it on my computer calendar, I was determined to go and nothing was going to stop me from going.

Well nothing was going to stop me, but me. I was feeling down last Friday and after weeks of eying the event on the computer, I decided I didn’t want to make the 20-mile trek to the bookstore. I had a dozen excellent excuses, like staying home and getting some things done (not sure what things and they never get done). Like many times before I was talking myself out of getting out there and meeting people. It’s just so much easier to just slip on some pajamas and fall into someone else’s reality on TV. Yet, at the last minute I forced myself to get dressed and told my husband, after changing my mind a dozen times, that I was in fact going out.

My mom, who now lives with us, suggested I invite my husband to go with. My four-year-old son miraculously agreed that he would be fine with Grandma, and he would let her put him to bed. In shock, I invited my husband to join me, he agreed, and we set off across Chicago to the quaint neighborhood of Andersonville.

My husband was relieved that there was another man in the audience, and the “mamas” were a friendly bunch. It was an intimate gathering of about 20 people. One by one different “literary mamas” took the stage and read their work.

It was truly amazing to hear these women, these mothers, talk about their struggles and triumphs with children, parents, partners, the world, and even themselves. I was already captivated by their written words, and now hearing their powerful words in their own voices, was all the more moving. The essay read by Susan Ito especially encouraged me. She writes a regular column at Literary Mama called “Life in the Sandwich,” which she explained follows the adventure of her family since her elderly mother moved in. Personally, my dad who is 90 and my mom who is 82 recently moved in with us in our “cozy” house. Ito’s experiences in her piece entitled “McMemories” were mirrors to my own.

After the reading, I bought a book I couldn’t afford (unfortunately I couldn’t buy all of the books by the group), and my husband and I went to find a place to eat. We got a delicious pizza and calamari at a charming restaurant on the corner, where we discussed the readings and my own writing projects. It was a real adult date, something that has been rare in the past four plus years.

You must check out the website of Literary Mama (“the magazine for the maternally inclined”) if you haven’t already. And the many books that members of this group has generated such as The Maternal Is Political: Women Writers at the Intersection of Motherhood and Social Change, Literary Mama: Writing for the Maternally Inclined, A Ghost at Heart’s Edge: Stories and Poems of Adoption, Real Life & Liars (forthcoming novel by Kristina Riggle) and Mama, PhD: Women Write about Motherhood and Academic Life.

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. cathy #

    wow. big post day today on cc!

    i really appreciated this blog, georgia! i hear you on the mama evening doldrums. there’s a new meetup group in my area i’ve been thinking of joining for my next project: a screenplaywright’s group. i know what i want to write, have written a play, but i’m not too steeped in the movie end of it….thought the group would be a good jumping point for it and me after i finish my novel. what? get out of the house? drive 20miles? talk with other writers face to face who are working on a similar medium? i don’t think i’ve done that since well, the boys were pretty young…

    February 19, 2009
  2. Yes, it sound like a great night out all around. Thanks for sharing this, it brightened my day and is something I will have to check out…

    Makes me wonder too, how long is it going to be until we publish our own anthology? :-O

    February 19, 2009
  3. Liz #

    Thx for sharing!

    There is something to be said for getting your butt out the door. You are always happier if you do.

    February 19, 2009
  4. Kristine #

    Great post, Georgia! I’m so glad you decided to go. I’m jealous. I wish I could have gone, too. Writerly conversation, books, and pizza. That’s my kind of night.

    I used to belong to a critique group but after I had my little one, I unfortunately had to quit because it was too far to drive (at least 45 minutes each way without traffic or bad weather conditions). I really miss those evenings out, though.

    I try to make an effort to get out once a week for my “Artist’s Date,” whether it’s power writing at the coffee shop or browsing at the bookstore. It really recharges my batteries.

    February 19, 2009
  5. agreed! great post, georgia. i hadn’t heard of the “literary mamas” but i’m off to check them out…

    it is hard to make yourself go out and do something new sometimes, isn’t it? i get so much overstimulation at work with my students that typically once i’m home, i just want to wrap myself up in my little family cocoon and be done with it, evenings and weekends both. but on the rare occasion, i do make it out for some little event or other, i’m always glad i did.

    February 19, 2009
  6. Thanks, Georgia — important reminders, and it’s great to introduce Literary Mama to those who are unfamiliar.

    Did someone say “anthology”???

    Hmmm………….

    February 19, 2009
  7. Georgia, thanks so much for the Literary Mama shout out! It was so lovely to meet you and your husband at the reading. It’s such a pleasure to get to meet other literary mamas who are in the trenches, too. There’s nothing I love more. Thanks again for your support and for spreading the word. Don’t forget, you said you’re going to submit something to LM! 🙂

    February 20, 2009
  8. Thanks so much for coming out to the reading! I’m so glad you did, and that you enjoyed it, because we all (speaking for the Literary Mamas) had a wonderful time.

    February 20, 2009
  9. Amy #

    We had as much fun reading as you did joining us. Thanks so much for coming. Your blog is equally inspiring!

    February 20, 2009
  10. So glad you enjoyed the evening and thanks for writing about us! It was nice meeting you guys. Your blog is lovely.

    February 20, 2009
  11. Georgia, I think you were sitting right behind me! But I didn’t realize you were this, the CC, Georgia! I wish I had known and we could have had some kind of creative construction hug!

    It was such a wonderful evening, wasn’t it? Don’t those literary mamas rock?

    February 21, 2009
  12. georgiageis #

    Kate, I know I realized you were there when I read your blog. Sounds like you had a great time at the conference.

    February 21, 2009

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