Carol Smallwood

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, http://www.vidaweb.org/the-2011-count. 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).