Hello, nice to meet you all.
Contributor

I’m Elizabeth Isadora Gold. I’m a writer, a teacher, a mother, and a wife, in no particular order. About two months ago, after over a decade of “being a writer,” I sold my first book. The Mommy Group: Freaking Out, F**king Up, and the First Two Years will be published by Atria Books in early 2016.

The Mommy Group is a true story.  When I was pregnant with my daughter, Clara, I joined a "pregnancy support group" in my Brooklyn neighborhood.  Anna, Keiko, Antonia, Ellie, Margaret, Heidi, and I were all in our mid- to late thirties, with established professional lives and settled marriages (names have been changed). From our first meeting, we shared a sensibility that was equal parts supportive, sardonic, and terrified. Then we had our babies, and the real drama began.

Strangers when we met, we were soon a community of women helping one another through the greatest and most difficult change of our lives. As time passed and our babies grew into people, we became integrated, whole, human beings with beautiful, powerful families—and each other.

I’ve written and revised the above two paragraphs approximately eight million times (or at least as many times as I’ve told my daughter that no, she cannot cover her entire body with Muppets Band-Aids). What those well-honed graphs don’t say: how the women of the mommy group saved me when I was suffering from terrible postpartum anxiety. That I love them and their children so much.  That writing a book about such close friends is extremely tricky. And that writing at all, with my five tutoring clients, two part-time teaching jobs, and a freelancer composer husband (he’s brilliant, but neither of us is getting rich here), is going to be the real challenge.

I’m going to be blogging here at She Writes while I’m working on The Mommy Group, as well as through the pre-release and publication process. What I hope to offer to this amazing community is the opportunity to look over my shoulder. We all have questions about the process. What is it really like to write and publish a contracted book, while also maintaining a complex work and home life? Will I make that February 2015 deadline, meet my students’ needs, and find someone to pick up Clara at preschool tomorrow? Who knows! It’s the working parent shuffle, a few steps forward, a few (hopefully fewer) back.

In many ways, I can’t believe my current good fortune (ptu-ptu-ptu—that’s the sound of me spitting over my shoulder to keep the evil spirits at bay for even writing such a sentiment). Ten years ago this month, I’d only started dating my wonderful husband-to-be, didn’t have my beautiful daughter, and my first book was in the process of being roundly rejected by every publisher in the known world (it seemed). It was heartbreaking—I cried, a lot, for months—but also frustrating. I’d gone to a great MFA program, found a fabulous agent, and written a bang-up book proposal. My friends were selling books, and we’d assumed I’d be next. What was wrong with me and my writing?

A decade later, I can smile a bit at my youthful confusion.  I didn’t know then how random this process is, and how much rejection is really involved in the artist’s life. I thought I did, but no. I’ve also weathered quite a few major life events since then: death, marriage, miscarriage, childbirth. But that original rejection of my beloved first book—it still hurts like a mother. Still, you know what hurt more? The last ten years of not knowing if I would ever achieve write a book, my heart’s desire since my father first read me Huckleberry Finn when I was eight years old, and I thought, I want to write that.

But enough about such lofty dreams . . .  It’s 2:50, and I gotta pick up Clara by 3:30, amuse her until 6, go to a school Coop board meeting, and find some time to write an essay for my student anthology before, oh, midnight tonight. Sound familiar, She Writers? Let’s go!

Let's be friends

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Comments
  • Calliope Lappas

    Congratulations on your book!  What a wonderful feeling it must be!  Thank you for sharing!

  • Barbara Weddle

    Congrats on your book; however, "F**king Up" as part of the title for a mommy book? I know I'll get a lot of flack on this, but, I just have to say it. I'm 72, so . . . 

  • I can so relate to having to fit writing around work and family life...and co-housing community life, and blogging, etc. My daughter is 9 1/2 and taking 1 day at a time has helped me. A supportive husband helped me finish writing a book to have it ready for publication (it was a contracted book on growing fruits and berries, which I insisted on focusing on organic methods) also kept me going. Now I have several MS's that are closer to my heart that I work on around promoting the first book...as well as journaling, around seasonal jobs and our involvement in co-housing community life and home-schooling co-ops...and dancing...and girl scouts...and our UU church community. :0). Would love to read your book. Best of luck with sales!

  • Elizabeth, I don't know which I look forward to more -- "looking over your shoulder" during your publication process, or reading the final product. I published an anthology (20 women writers, on motherhood) motivated by the same sentiment you beautifully capture in your PERFECT two paragraphs: without sharing stories with other mothers -- stories of the everyday agonies and triumphs -- I would have been utterly lost. Those Mommy Group friends can save you, if you're lucky to get the right chemistry. I cherish the women who helped save me. My boys are 9 and 13 now, and I can't write about them nearly as much as I could when they were 1 and 5. (Serves me right for letting them learn to read.) My solutions? Write fiction. And read your book!