Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers – Review by Carol Smallwood

Motherhood for adoptive and birth mothers is a life-changing experience. Writing helps the confusion that new mothers flounder through as they fight post-partum depression, exhaustion, and finding new coping skills. This experience, as Kate Hopper’s Introduction  notes, “… was the stuff of which real literature was made.”

The 14 chapters on creative nonfiction cover such topics as voice, character development, using concrete details, and publishing. The exercises in each chapter will help writers block and launch new creative threads.

In her foreword, Hope Edelman, the author of The Possibility of Everything, observes: “Turning personal experience into readable prose is a daunting process for anyone, and carving out the time to do so isn’t easy with a house full of short people in need of constant attention.” I can personally relate to this and also agree with her comment that “…we mothers are pros at multitasking.”

Women writers do have an uphill battle to get published as well researched on the Vida: Women in Literary Arts website, The percentage of women getting into print compared with men is indeed an eye opener.

The eighteen contributor bio’s, reading questions, list of resources, acknowledgments, writing prompts, index, author picture and bio, finding an agent tips and resources, and other aids, are in the back of the book. Fulbright Scholarship recipient, Kate Hopper puts her expertise as a writer with a MFA in creative writing, Literary Mama editor, blogger, Loft Literary Center instructor, and mother to good use in a guide meant to be underlined, highlighted, reread, bookmarked, carried around, shared, by countless mothers.

Reviewer Carol Smallwood co-edited (Molly Peacock, foreword) Women on Poetry: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing by Successful Women Poets (McFarland, 2012) and Women Writing on Family: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing (Key Publishing House, 2012).

One comment

  1. OK, I know there are gaps in male/female issues, but what dumbfounds me the most is that in the circles I float between, this is *not* what I’m seeing. Most writers I know…are flat out women. Most of the writers I hear about getting book gigs are flat out: women. Most of the editors and agents I see are: women. In the writing magazines I read, the books and authors I see reviewed are: women. So, yes, the numbers are alarming, but not exactly in the way *I’ve* personally experienced them. So, no, I’m not looking to start a fight with anyone (really I’m not, and I will not participate in one), I’m just stating *my* experience–and I don’t consider myself any KIND of “well read.” But it is something I’ve noticed, especially when I discovered a writer friend had a degree in Women’s Studies. It piqued my intereset, so I became a bit more open to the issue (yes, have even *counted* PW reviews boy/girl/girl/boy…).


    This is an issue that does require more investigation than my admittedly anecdotal comments. Though I’ve always mantained that women have recently held quite the advantage in getting published for various reasons (one of which is mainly women buy books, so why not bring on women authors, right?), this does throw a monkey wrench into my theory and force me to reconsider–depending upon where the numbers actually come from and how they’re analyzed/combined….all due respect given to the author(s) of these numbers (and I’m not just giving lip service here, I mean it; I used to work in the “field” of numbers and in the creation of work-related stats, so I know how everything and ANYthing [however well-meaning] can be manipulated to prove virtually ANY point one has to make). So, PLEASE…don’t take my words as an affront and start yelling at me. I just question anything that has numbers associated with it…yet do agree that there is a male/female disparity in life, in general. But I also see that gap closing.


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