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  • In a World of a Million Mom Blogs, Your Story Matters: How Memoir Writing Helps Mother/Writers
In a World of a Million Mom Blogs, Your Story Matters: How Memoir Writing Helps Mother/Writers
Written by
Cori Howard
November 2011
Written by
Cori Howard
November 2011

I came to memoir writing very reluctantly. It started when I was in my 20s, working for The National Post, a big Canadian newspaper that was trying to attract younger readers. My editor at the time kept encouraging me to put myself in my stories – something that as a journalist I had never done and that I had been taught never, ever to do. But after I got over the surprise that breaking the rules was possible, inserting myself into my stories became natural and incredibly fun.

So when I had my first child and got to stay home for a year (thanks to Canadian maternity leave regulations), I started to do some freelance writing about motherhood. This was 10 years ago, before the explosion of mom blogs, even before the explosion of mom lit. Back then, memoir writing about motherhood was just starting. Salon.com had a section called “Mothers Who Think” that was incredible and there were a few anthologies and books, but nothing like what we have today. So when I proposed articles on topics like my post-baby marital crisis, my post-baby identity crisis, on the myth of having it all, my editors ate it up. And I wrote and wrote memoir after memoir about my experiences as a mother.

And what I found was that it wasn’t just natural and fun, it was extremely cathartic – and at times, very difficult. Many of my struggles as a mother had to do with my marriage and so I would write about what was happening in my life with my husband, show it to him, watch him read it and then sit down to discuss all the issues with him that the story brought up. It was amazing. I’m sure without my stories, we wouldn’t have talked about any of those issues. For him, the stories were a rare window into my soul. It has been therapeutic, transformative and so rewarding.

I have taken those experiences and now teach this kind of writing to moms through The Momoir Project, an online writing centre dedicated to moms. SheWrites has been hosting my classes for the last few months and here’s what one student has to say: “I can't begin to tell you how much I have enjoyed this class. The reading assignments are excellent, and it would be hard to find a more supportive writing community. But I think that my favorite part of the class is noticing on a weekly basis just how universal the mothering experience is. Circumstances vary, of course, but the same underlying emotions seem to weave through everyone's stories. As a mother, I find it to be both validating and liberating.”

I think what happens in a world where there are a zillion mom blogs and mom books and momoirs is that women who want to write their own story question whether they have anything original to say or whether there’s a space to publish their experiences. There is. And it’s in the power of a group that women who want to write their own stories can learn not only how to write, but how writing can help you through the difficult challenges that motherhood is always presenting, and how a supportive writing group can make all the difference.

For more information on the next session of Writing for Moms, click here.


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