Sunday, May 14, 2017

Listen to Your Mother, the Writer

After LTYM performance, with most of the fam!
I can go for ages without stretching myself (and I don’t just mean yoga). Life can seem challenging enough just treading water, doing my job at church, writing on Thursdays (my day off from work). But then I will have spurts where I’m stretching all over the place. That describes this past month, when I found myself sharing a stage in Bethlehem, PA one weekend, and attending a large writer’s conference in New York City the next.

When I first heard about the “Listen to Your Mother” shows, I was intrigued. LTYM began in 2010. The idea was to “give motherhood a microphone” and produce shows featuring 12 mothers reading their stories. Stories? About being a mom? Sign me up! was my initial reaction. But when I checked their website, I noticed that, while these shows were occurring all over the country, the nearest location to me was way up in the Lehigh Valley, a hilly hour and a half from home. Now, I enjoy a long solo drive to an unfamiliar area. Not. Add to that the crazy weather we’ve been having (snow/ice was part of the forecast the day of the first rehearsal)—they were real “white knuckle” trips. But I made it, and am glad I did.

The other 11 readers represented a wide variety of motherhood experiences. One had been a surrogate, carrying a baby for a stranger. Another had lost her mother as a baby, and told of being raised, haphazardly, by her father. There were adoption stories, miscarriage stories, a story of a mom whose own mother had been abusive. One brave participant was nine months pregnant (she thankfully waited to deliver until AFTER the performance). Most of the tales were intense; many were touching. I was the oldest mom, with the oldest kids, so they put me last on the program. To a woman, everyone was lovely, and the show went very well.  

Lunch with fellow writers! Yay!

Then last Saturday, I went to the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) conference in Manhattan. You have to qualify to join ASJA, with enough articles published in national newspapers and magazines. My resume isn’t there yet, but the day inspired me to reach for the next level as a writer. There were agents, publishers and editors there, offering wisdom. I found out what it takes to be published in the Washington Post and some top online sites. A highlight was my lunch with three writers, including the creator of “Beyond Your Blog.” Susan offers weekly tips, podcasts, and an exhaustive list of writing opportunities (I got my highest-paid writing gig through a Beyond Your Blog listing). By the end of the day, I was starting to feel at home in the company of big-time writers, and dared to hope I can join their ranks someday.

Stretching is a good thing, I reminded myself. I plan to keep exploring challenging activities and see where they lead me. And who knows? I may even go back to yoga class. Maybe.

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