May is motherhood memoir month

Ekphrastic Mama

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The Ekphrastic Letter

Dear Mother,
I should’ve cleaned your fingernails before you died. I know dirty fingernails never bothered you, but in that last photo I took of you where your hands wrap around the ceramic mug of fresh coffee I brought with real cream, instead of the styrofoam cup of instant with powder packets you’d been getting—-in that picture the gleam is back in your eyes, feisty again, but a dark, dirty rim lines each fingernail. I regret not offering to clean your nails, but at the time it didn’t occur to me. You had lots of life left in you. You could’ve cleaned your own fingernails….

The Jesus Chicken

The other day our middle daughter came over to celebrate our youngest daughter’s 15th birthday. Arielle asked what we were having for her birthday dinner. Chicken Alfredo? I said, knowing it’s her favorite. Where is the chicken from? Arielle asked. She’s taking AP Environmental Science in her freshman year at Camas High School. We try to buy mostly free-range, usually organic chickens, but this class has raised the bar on what she finds acceptable. She’s nice about it, but she won’t eat it if she thinks it might not be responsibly sourced and humanely treated. Or if it contains palm oil. From the kitchen, her father called out some details–it was a heritage chicken, woodland bred, fed a diet of sheep’s milk, soy and hazelnuts, local and organic with at least 4 acres to graze upon with lots of friends… (Portlandia episode–ordering chicken) I added that it was a happy…

Can Drawing help Writing?

Do you ever draw as a warm-up to write? It can relax your reticular activating system (RAS) that makes writing seem like a risky activity, creating resistance and procrastination. Try drawing and breathing for just three minutes before you start writing. You might find it is the ticket in to that white hot creative space of flow. Here’s a short post with some resources and inspiration to get started.

May (MaMoMeMo) is Here

Are you ready to write, even just 5-10 minutes exploring your story in May? If so, bookmark this site and subscribe to my newsletter… which I admit I’ve never actually sent out. I write my blog posts (here and more regularly on Ekphrastic Mama but I don’t bother with emails. Some of you have asked me about this… I’m working up to it, is my best answer. I’m still figuring out the public side of writing. Mostly, writing is private, something I do when I’m alone, although I do write in groups and with partners, which I find drives my writing forward in surprising ways, but more about that later… I find memoir a bit unwieldy- it tends to run off in directions I didn’t think I was going. Sometimes I have to stop and ask, what is the story that wants to be written? However, during May…


May is Motherhood Memoir Month, a time to celebrate motherhood by writing about it. Or maybe you don’t feel like celebrating- write about that. Maybe you’d just like to read some tall but true tales until you get inspired, or yarns for commiseration. You’re welcome to read mine. With six kids, I’ve got some tales to tell. Writing is cathartic- it helps us figure out what we think, making abstract thoughts into black and white words on the page. Words are editable. When you move them around and change them, or even erase them, you may find you’ve changed or defined how you feel. Writing helps create new paths, or new ways to walk down old ones. Writing is a gift- one you can give yourself and another person. During this Mother’s Day month, consider writing out stories from your past, present, or future even, then share them with your mother or…

Can Memoir Kill You?

“…It almost killed me.” -Harry Crews, author of A Childhood: The Biography of a Place Both shocking and understandable if you write memoir, right? Have you ever felt gutted when writing your stories? The natural reaction to pain is avoidance. Quite often we flinch and move away from that hot center of a story, afraid we’ll get burned or at least singed by it. But that red hot spot is where the heart of story lies. I’ve taken a break from the red hot center that memoir is, but recently I got back on the horse, to severely mangle some metaphors… though I like this image now of riding a flaming Arabian for all I’m worth. I will not go down in flames. I will rise from the ashes. These are the affirmations I think of as I free flow write… on this hobby horse… Free flow write with me.…

A New Thought for Today

I have lots of old thoughts that circulate regularly so when a new thought flits by I notice it and see if it’s one I want to keep. Today’s thought, early on this Sunday morning Mother’s Day, was about privilege, a hot topic and one I’ve been entertaining in new ways. This new thought took me by surprise, as new thoughts often do, being new. It was a privilege to be my mother’s daughter. Many of you might think things like this quite often; I haven’t had a lot of thoughts like this, but the thought seemed beautiful to me. I decided it could stay, that I would like to think this way more. It is a thought that serves me well. After it came another I liked equally well, maybe even better: It’s a privilege to be a mother of my three daughters (three sons too, but today, as…

Ending May: 31 Days of Writing

Today is the last day of May- what a month. I focused on words, writing a lot of words, a redemptive story. I got distracted and sometimes felt disheartened, probably a lot like you. But we press on. We realize it is a privilege to be able to press on, to breathe clean air (at least where I live), to write in peace. I spoke with my middle son today. He’s a reporter for the Seattle Times and was downtown last evening doing his job. He got sprayed with tear gas and said he feels “shaken.” He’s never seen anything like this. Who has? None of us have lived through riots in the face of a pandemic. Meanwhile, I’m still writing, still believing the story I’m working on matters. Some days it’s difficult to believe, especially when I look around. But art elevates us all out of the mire, dusting…