Suzi: What Was I Thinking? The Birth of an Anthology of Motherhood
I’m thrilled and honored to be the first blog to publish this piece! Suzi Banks Baum, writer, artist, and blogger, recently released a book that belongs in the hands of every creative mother: An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice. (Suzi’s wisdom also appears in my e-book The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years, so you may have already met her in those pages — or here at Studio Mothers.) In the piece below, Suzi shares the journey that resulted in her book, addressing the doubts, obstacles, and beauty that accompany the creation of anything worthwhile. Savor Suzi’s words, and please consider supporting her work by acquiring a copy of the book.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. To put our art, our writing, our photographs, our ideas out into the world with no assurance of acceptance or appreciation — that’s also vulnerability.”
—Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
Vulnerable is exactly how I felt when I invited 35 women to jump into the freezing-cold waters of public opinion and share themselves and their perspectives on living lives pumped full with creativity in Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice. At that point I knew wanted to put my words and images out in to the world, but publishing a book? Being that public terrified me. So, I figured I’d rather have some co-conspirators.
Years before, I had started writing my own stories about how I spent my days as a mother, what caught my attention internally, and how I righted the boat of my serenity over and over again with small creative acts. I wrote never thinking anyone but a few close friends would read these stories. I was just writing. But in April 2009, I dared to title the writing Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers. At a writing conference, I spoke to a literary agent about the work, wondering if there was interest in the world beyond my sphere for a book about how I raised myself as I raised my children. (Please note elevator pitch in the last sentence. “Can I describe my book in 10 words or fewer?”)
Standing before a literary agent is much like any other moment in life when you are Dorothy at the feet of the Wizard. “Is there anything in your bag for me?” “Could there be another human aside from my best friends who might be interested in my writing?” Standing there, knees clattering (and go ahead, tell me I was supposed to own my brilliance, stand for all mothers, flirt with the agent, shine shine shine), palms slick with sweat, lips dry, eyes blurring, I learned I was to go home and build my author platform. “Come back when you’ve built that,” said the agent.
An author platform is not something you need wood for. For an author platform you need a website and something to say. Then, just like the newsboys out on the corner hawking the latest headlines, hopefully someone will stop and read your words. Perhaps they will follow your blog and become part of what I have come to understand is my “tribe.”
With help, I built the website. I studied social media, which until that point I barely knew. Read more