by Dawn Yun
Friday, as it consistently does every week, has arrived. Finally -- tonight it's The Writing Mamas Mother's Night Out! Mama Monologues at Book Passage from 7-9 p.m.!
Our guest Writing Mama is Joyce Maynard. All profits will go to the charity Family Services of Marin, We suggest a donation of $10 so others less fortunate might be helped. We ourselves are incredibly fortunate to live in this area and to have such a wonderful resource as Book Passage as our creative home away from home.
For some -- it is our home.
You wouldn't believe what a mess my home is right now. My trick is that I don't wear my glasses around the house; that way I can't see those "things" on the floor. And I only clean when my family is around, especially my husband, so he can see how I "toil."
"I'm Jewish," I explain to him. "We DON'T clean."
I'm trying to instill this philosophy in my daughter. But looking at her room -- I think it's already in her genes.
The kitchen table is filled with papers for tonight's Mama's Monologues.
I did manage to put in an hour of writing on my novel, which was novel given that so much needs to happen before 6:30 tonight. This morning, my character, Emily, who I adore for her empathy and consideration, has taken a part-time job as a cashier. She is the first in the mothers' group to get pregnant with a second child, but unlike the others, money is tight. She is afraid the mommies will find out about her job. Especially her mothers' club leader who is a militant stay-at-home mom. She does.
A friend has taken my daughter to camp and my husband will pick her up later after her play date. I'm feeling mommy guilty about not spending enough time with Mimi. I've promised her we will go to Doodlebugs in San Anselmo and she can paint something in the $20 range -- I usually aim for the $10 one, and then, yes, she can buy a small toy, for about $12, to make up for my mother missing in action persona this week. Mimi should work on a farm because she excels at milking this. But, if she's not going to clean, no way will she EVER work on a farm.
Then at 3 my stepson, Jay, and his friend, Max, will come home and everything will get very LOUD and they will be STARVING and they will also inform me several times that they are BORED. I will ask for quiet and not get it because they don't know the definition because they're yelling at each other so much. It's all in playful, pushing "hey dude" good humor, but annoying nonetheless. I will encourage them to jump on the trampoline outside. Best investment ever.
Well, the lineup is set for tonight. Nearly everyone's bio is in. And I've just finished my own Mama Monologue. It's called, Oh, Mammary. I've already practiced my electric guitar for 45 minutes and I'll need to row with weights for half an hour to burn off nervous energy.
Then I'll need to practice my monologue and everyone's introductions. I'm a rehearsal hound. I love repetition. When I was in plays as a kid, I would barricade myself against the door of my room and force my little sisters to listen over and over until they screamed to be let out. But they remained imprisoned until my words were memorized, or I bribed them in some way -- much like I do with my children today. Habits formed yesterday are hard habits to break today.
Thus far this year has been a busy one for The Writing Mamas Salon.
First-time mom-to-be Li Miao Lovett, is working on a novel, In the Lap of the Gods, which is a tale of love and loss set in the shadows of China's Three Gorges dam. It begins with a widower who rescues an abandoned baby girl on the eve of flooding, and decides to keep her. A Chinese Mr. Mom! Li's literary agent is now sending it out to publishers. Last spring, Earth Island Journal published her true account of one of the Yangtze towns succumbing to a dam -- all that remained of this once vibrant city was a few crumbling buildings, a couple dozen workers on the demolition crew, and a woman and her adopted child (who had been abandoned) living in a shack.
Ariana Amini Lamorte, was unpublished before joining The Writing Mamas Salon, but has since seen her work appear in the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, an essay in Mothering Magazine, she contributed an essay for her sister's book, Before the Mortgage: Real Stories of Brazen Loves, Broken Leases & the Perplexing Pursuit of Adulthood, and wrote the book, You Owe Me: 30 Favors for the Mom-to-Be, a gift coupon book from Chronicle Books.
Writing Mama Jessica O'Dwyer has been one busy mama. She was a writer and publicist before becoming a mother and since joining the salon has had two essays published in the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine and an essay on NPR's Perspectives. She also was selected to join the prestigious Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. In addition, Jessica took a workshop in Guatemala with Joyce Maynard. Jessica is working on a non-fiction book about her two adopted children from Guatemala and the lengths she had to go to become a mother.
Driven Laura-Lynne Powell drives in from Sacramento every month to join The Writing Mamas. She is a former newspaper reporter for the Orange County Register and currently writes for a must-read politics and public policy newsletter in the state capitol. This year she was among 38 women out of nearly 500 applicants awarded a residency at Hedgebrook, a retreat for women writers in Washington state. She is also working on a memoir about becoming a mother through open adoption. She has two children.
Marilee Stark raised two college-age daughters on her own and recently had a piece accepted for the Cup of Comfort anthology series on single parents. She is also writing a non-fiction book on single mothers.
Sveta Nikitina had a beautiful essay published in the Marin IJ and is working on a novel.
Lorrie Goldin saw her oldest daughter off to college, wrote about it for The Writing Mamas daily blog, then turned it around and sold it NPR's Perspectives.
Other Writing Mamas have had works appear in magazines, are working on novels and non-fiction books, as well as being hard at work raising their families and, often, working at jobs, too.
As for me, this will be a writing summer. I am completing my satirical novel about a group of women's first year of motherhood and soon will be sending it out to agents in the hopes of finding a good one. I never have problems finding an agent but I'm going to be picky this time, looking for just the right one who gets me and what I'm trying to write and is in it for the long-term. I've also been working for 12 years on a collection of true stories called Remarkable Moments: A Journey of Connections, Synchronicities and Premonitions. It's about the connections we have before during and after a loved one passes on.
Because of my Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and this new situation I now find myself in, I've begun writing medical articles, besides parenting ones, and I'm being asked to speak from the patient's perspective at medical conventions. As always, I've got a lot to say.
I'm also working on putting together a Writing Mamas Conference in Marin on How to Write a Bestseller (girlfriends and boyfriends, if you're going to write a book you might as well sell a zillion copies and sell the TV and film rights, too. Get rich! Be famous! Buy a hybrid!) So far Jacquelyn Mitchard, Deep End of the Ocean and Ann Hood of The Knitting Circle are coming. It will primarily be a fundraiser for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation. And if it comes together, it will happen in September. I'm looking for places to host it. I was close with a private university but it just got too complicated. It's summer. And I don't do complicated in the summer. Too sticky.
Also, Writing Mama Salons are starting around the country! If you're interested in starting one in your area, write to me at email@example.com. Or visit us at http://www.writingmamas.com.
A San Francisco branch of The Writing Mamas will start at Toads Restaurant, 1499 Valencia Street (between 25th/26th Streets) on July 10 from 6-8.The price is $75 for the year. Bring an essay on motherhood or any subject you wish to share, part of a novel, whatever you like, and bring five copies. You may e-mail me at the address above for more information and to sign-up.
If you live in the Bay Area and want to attend our signature salon at Book Passage, click here and sign up. We meet on the second Sunday of every month from 6-8 p.m. and have speakers every month, generally on the fourth Sunday, unless otherwise noted, from 6:30-8 p.m. The cost is $120 for the year.
A Peninsula chapter of The Writing Mamas will likely be starting in August, too. Write to me above if interested.
I must give a special shout-out and enormous thank-you to Elaine Petrocelli and all the wonderful people who work at Book Passage. You are our true heroes. You always make us feel warm and welcome when we come and your book knowledge is unparalleled. We are truly blessed to have such a special bookstore that is unlike any other in the country. If you love the written word, then you love Book Passage. (And a special thank you to Joe Chappell who handles the store's Website and fixes my typos and always does so with a smile!)
Hope to see a lot of you tonight at The Mama Monologues with The Writing Mamas at Mothers' Night Out! at Book Passage from 7-9 p.m. You deserve an evening of LOL fun with like-minded mothers (and fathers). Remember, when you become a mother -- you have a lot to write (and laugh) about.
The Writing Mamas Saloon