Monday, June 18, 2007

The Writing Mamas Salon

by Dawn Yun

For the last two weeks my mantra has been -- "Let it be over!" It being school. Finally, it has come to pass. Thursday was the last day for my stepson who graduated from junior high and my daughter who moved up to first grade. At least 50,000 school trips were planned during those uber weeks. Then, there was Jay's junior high graduation that took place at his new high school. Fortunately, it was near to Mimi's gymnastics class so we could walk over. It was East Coast humid inside. I could feel my makeup melt into brownish goo. My daughter fell asleep across my body, my purse disappeared and her toy fish, which her gym teacher referred to as a "trophy," was lost -- a fate far worse than losing my bag. I tried to remain Zen -- this being Marin County -- about both. I spotted the fish. No purse. I listened to 14-year olds orate about what the future holds for them and for us. Got to love that young, yet to be jaded wisdom. My stepson, with a name that ends with Y, was third to last to graduate -- and it was a large class. I made a mental To-Do list, a mother's second best friend beside a good pedicure on an ugly foot day. The credit cards to be cancelled, and my phone! I always feel timeless without it, as it doubles as my watch. And the thought of cancelling my ATM card, coming up with a new PIN number and waiting for a new card, this on top of the will it ever end two school weeks -- was a lot for a stressed out mommy to handle. The "ceremony" finally ended. My husband miraculously found my purse. "Why do you always wear black?" he asked. "Because I can't find anything darker," I said.

Then came yesterday, Sunday, my niece was graduating from Stanford. Our family shlepped down to Palo Alto in two cars and in the blazing heat watched Tiffany receive her undergraduate and masters degrees in electrical engineering. She's 21. Apple, Disney, Google, snap her up! (I promised my niece's parents I would write that.)

But I had to miss their party so I could race back to Book Passage to hear Jane Ganahl, author, Naked on the Page, former columnist, co-founder of Litquake, and all-around great girl, speak to my writing group, The Writing Mamas Salon. This being Father's Day, I wasn't sure how many people would show given a mother's guilt for doing something for herself on her husband's Hallmark Card made-up holiday. But 15 mothers did, along with a man, perhaps the biggest mother of all -- and I say that with kindness.

Jane read from her book and was warm, honest and LOL! She announced that Naked on the Page, a title that is beyond true for any writer, has been optioned by TBS for a TV series!!! Go Jane! See, you don't need Dick, or even Spot. While television is a notoriously fickle and frustrating industry for authors, the stars seem to be aligning as major players have said they want to be involved, including actresses Edie Falco (Carmelo, give us a hint. We're STILL trying to figure out The Sopranos ending) and Allison Janney, formerly of The West Wing. The director Betty Thomas is interested and so is a former Seinfeld writer. So, Jane, here's hoping that soon Jimmy Choo and Prada are your best, or as my daughter would say, bestest fwends.

Additionally, Jane announced that Litquake, San Francisco's largest and most beloved literary festival, will begin on Oct. 6. It will run eight days and involve some 350 writers speaking in about 50 venues. This year will be extra special because on opening night, Armistead Maupin, Tales of the City, will be bestowed Litquake's first Barbary Award.

Well, The Writing Mamas and The Writing Papa who attended Jane Ganahl's speech had a blast, learned a lot about writing, literary agents, publishers, and TV deals. A Father's Day well spent. No tie required.

Raced home to my husband, stepson, and daughter who jumped into my arms at 9:15, still not in her pajamas and with her Hello Kitty! sticker still attached to her cheek as it had been since 7 that morning, and wanted to play catch with her stuffed animal chicken, who she calls Ella. She has a stuffed animal collection that numbers 200, and each is named Ella. When I look at them I see not toys, but individual moments of giving in to her "need" to have them. And my need not to hear her whine. I finally got Mimi in her jammies, read a book about a boy who grows a plant in his belly button, we hugged it out, and she fell asleep.

Then I edited a blog for our Writing Mamas Website, We post a new one by a different mother daily. And one mom, Julie Richter, wrote a beautiful post about being a single mother to her three sons on Father's Day, as well as everyday. She is a true hero.

Lorrie Goldin, another Writing Mama, sent an e-mail that a blog she wrote for The Writing Mamas Website will appear on NPR's KQED's Perspectives on June 22 at 6:07 a.m., 7:37 a.m., and 11:33 p.m., as well as Saturday and Sunday at 7:37 and 8:37 a.m. It's called She's Back. Originally, Lorrie feared her daughter leaving for college would make her lonely. Now that her daughter's home for the summer, Lorrie's trying to recall what she originally feared.

Coincidentally, on Friday, June 22, The Writing Mamas Salon will hold its Mothers' Night Out! Mama Monologues Spoken Word Event from 7-9 pm at Book Passage. The Writing Mamas will read their original esssays and blogs about the hysterical, touching and truthful moments of motherhood. There will be wine. Mothers need lots of wine. Our guest Writing Mama will be Joyce Maynard, At Home in the World, To Die For, Internal Combusion. This is also a fundraiser for Family Services of Marin (, a fee of $10 is suggested, which offers counseling and other aid for families in need. A Writing Mamas chapter will soon start in the Canal area of Marin for Spanish-speaking mothers. And young, single mothers, many of whom suffering from post-partum depression, will be given journals so they might voice what is in their hearts.

At home I found e-mails from women, in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Vermont who want to start Writing Mamas Salons in their own areas. Writing Mamas Salons are beginning across the country, including New York City, Tampa, York, Penn., and Las Vegas.

If you're interested in starting your own Writing Mamas Salon, you can e-mail me at Check out our Website, You can be published or not. All that is required is that you're a mother (and the four-legged variety counts, too) and you have a need to write. Many of the mothers who began at our original salon at Book Passage, which is now three years old, have gone on to be published in newspapers and magazines, the Internet, NPR, and in books. Our motto is: When you become a mother -- you've got a lot to write about. You'll find the salons to be warm, encouraging and supportive places for women to talk about motherhood and writinghood and to have a neighborhood in which to do both. And like the best of neighbors and the best of friends, there is much laughter and a real sense of community.

Right now something of a miracle has occurred. Mimi is at camp, a friend has offered to take her for a play date afterward, and this will allow me several precious hours to finally work on my own writing. It's a novel about the first year of motherhood for five very different women. It takes place in Marin and is a satire. I have 30 pages to go (the last ones are always the hardest) as I hear my stepson and his friend, Max, screaming at the videogame I told them not to play that they are playing anyway). It's background music. But then, kids always are.


Dawn Yun

Founder, The Writing Mamas Salon

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