Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mamma Friendships

It isn't easy to make friends as an adult. We're busy with careers and families; we aren't in class or clubs together with self-selected folks with similar interests. Attending events with our son, the new common denominator is being a parent, but caring for a baby necessarily mean that we have too much in common.

I find myself talking to a lot of new people at events for the bambino, like library programs. The first question is always, "Do you work or are you home with your baby?" I'm somewhere in between: I work, teaching online and privately, but I'm also primarily home. And I'm a poet, which is harder for some people to understand. One mother recently said snarkily to me, "Oh, a poet? Must be nice to have time to just do whatever you want."

In fact it is nice to pursue my art and career, when there's time. And it isn't a hobby. It is part of who I am and what I do. Everything could be a hobby, I suppose, but if someone says she's a poet, then that's what she is. It isn't code for unemployed, although we don't necessarily make money from poetry. (Yes, I'm sometimes a bit defensive about this since I often need to, well, defend myself.)

I teach writing because it is something I love, I'm good at and yes, because it is a job that pays the bills. I write because I am a writer. And I encourage everyone who writes to own that definition for herself.

Being a Woman Mother Writer isn't the same as being a woman, mother or writer. At least while my son is small, my lifestyle is radically different from other writers without a baby. And my lifestyle as a writing mom isn't the same as mothers who don't write or immerse themselves in an art.

Woman Mother Writers: Let's connect here and undo some of that loneliness and misunderstanding. Email me if you'd like to share your thoughts on the subject (ChloeMiller(at)gmail(dot)com) and perhaps guest blog, too.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Submission Organization

Have you ever put together a submission for a literary magazine and then discover that it is temporarily closed to submissions? I'm often missing opportunities: I learn about them after the deadline, hope I'll remember when they reopen and then I inevitably forget. If I can remember to update and follow my new list of opportunities organized by month, I might have solved this problem.

I've started keeping an electronic document that lists when magazine submissions open, residency applications are due and other deadlines for myself (including particular writing, editing and revising goals.) Organized by month, I can look ahead to next year's residency, conference and workshop deadlines (which are often far in advance of the start dates.) You can start your own list by looking at Poets and Writers Magazine, which has a search option to  organize their Writing Contests, Grants & Awards by date due.

This is essentially, what my dad calls a "tickler" system. And yes, that phrase has always made me giggle.

Since Woman Mother Writers are particularly busy, this system also helps to make better use of free moments. If I know that I'd like to submit to a particular magazine in the near future and I have a little free time now, I can start the submission and put it aside. And with this document, that I've named, "Writing Plan," I won't forget about it.

Or at least, I probably won't.

For more on submission organization, see my writing coach post on a submission spreadsheet to keep track of your outgoing work. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Residency & Funding Resources for Parent Writers

Time is money and time for writing can be particularly expensive at a formal residency, especially considering daycare costs back home. I blogged for Minerva Rising about a Do-It-Yourself Residency with a fiction writer at her home in Indianapolis. As two parents who write, the quiet time was incredibly helpful to our writing. If you are thinking about setting up your own, inexpensive writing residency, I hope you'll read through the post and the links.

Here are some more parent-writer-friendly-resources for residencies. What else would you recommend?

Island Hill House (accepts children/caregivers)

Caldera Residency (accepts children/caregivers)

Vermont Studio Center (residency and grant for childcare)