The parenting books don’t detail things that can’t be explained. Like the emotions you go through with a premature delivery and hour after hour in the NICU and then hours pacing around the dining room table with a crying infant.
“…I passed the weeks in an exhausted daze, unable to get my mind around the ways my life had changed. And for the first time in my life, I felt desperate for words, for some way to express the changes I was undergoing as an isolated new mother.” ~Kate Hopper
“Through my blog and teaching I discovered exactly what I expected: women–mothers–crafting memoirs and essays dealing with issues of identity, loss and longing, neurosis and fear, ambivalence and joy. I found stories about transformation and how the authors see themselves in relation to the world in which they live. Last time I checked, this was the stuff of which real literature was made.” ~Kate Hopper
Kate Hopper is a seasoned mother, writer and teacher at the highly recommended and respected Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. Her book, Use Your Words is a unique instruction manual for the mother-writer that wants to write about life and herself through the lens of motherhood. Maybe that’s through a blog or for magazines or a memoir, but whatever the case, I want you to know, this book will help you become the writer you dream of being. It will take you from the beginning to the end of your process with grace and humor. I don’t know about you, but I need direction, a coaxing of sorts, to stay focused on a project. That is exactly what Use Your Words will do for me, and for you.
“Part writing workshop, part anthology, part mothers’ group between two covers, Use Your Words is a readable, powerful call to the page for every woman in the process of giving birth to herself as a writer.” -Katrina Kenison
I share that quote because Kenison gives words to my head and heart feelings about Kate Hopper’s Use Your Words. I expect a bent cover and tattered pages for this book’s future in my hands. And it is an extra special attachment for me because Kate Hopper has played a role in my journey ever since motherhood reminded me how very much I need to tell my stories through the written word. I first met Kate in person at the Minnesota blogging conference. I came home to write a blog post in which I called her my mentor, even though she didn’t know it. I had sat in her session at the conference and learned from her and felt a new fire for writing about my life, for telling my stories. She is someone who steered me in the direction of Just Write and inspired me to keep following my writing dreams. We touched base here and there online in the following couple of years and I made daydream plans in my head to
become Kate’s very best friend attend Kate’s classes should we ever move back to the Twin Cities.
Then, I went into labor with Elsie at 31 weeks and spent a few days hospitalized while my contractions were being monitored and preparations were being made for the almost sure early arrival of our baby. It turned out that Elsie made it all the way to week 37, but in those fearful and unsure days, a friendly, kind and reassuring face appeared in my hospital room to encourage me. Kate Hopper! She told me her story, of giving birth to daughter Stella at 31 weeks and reassured me that should our baby come early, she’d be there for me.
I share that because it’s an example of why Kate is so good at what she does. Her heart is the kind that spills forth creativity and wisdom born out of love. She isn’t afraid to write from a place of emotion, to tell her stories through the details. So in her book, she teaches us how to do the same in a way that will resonate with any human spirit–fighting, overcoming, hurting and making it and experiencing joy, through our children–the ways motherhood changes our lives and our very selves.
To celebrate the release of Use Your Words, Kate is doing something that I’m seriously excited about. She’s asking YOU to write an essay that’s inspired by one of the prompts in her book. I will be reading each and every submission and choosing one winner who will then receive Use Your Words and move on to be considered by Kate herself for the grand prize.
(Please send your essay (600 words or less) to heather of the eo at gmail dot com
by one week from today – May 14, 2012)
The prompt from Use Your Words that I’ve chosen for you r essay will come as no surprise if you’ve been around The Extraordinary Ordinary and Just Write for very long…
Sensory Details as a Way to Begin:
Think about the time when your child (or one of your children) was born, when she first arrived home, or even before she was born. If you adopted your child, maybe you want to focus on the first time you saw her photo. Is there a certain smell, sound, taste, texture, or picture that comes to mind? Start with that. Write it down. What other concrete details do you remember? Let your mind wander. Jump from image to image. Try to use as many sensory, concrete details as you can. Don’t pick up your pen—just keep moving it across the paper—and don’t worry about grammar or spelling.
If those early days and months feel too far removed, choose another period in your child’s life that seemed particularly vivid to you, and begin writing details from that time.
You don’t have to be a blogger or consider yourself a writer to participate. Gather up your courage and write the details of remarkable moments and watch yourself begin to unfold!
“Use Your Words is the first book to focus on the craft of writing using motherhood as the lens, but it doesn’t just focus on how to fit writing into a busy life. Instead, Use Your Words focuses on the craft of creative nonfiction, and how a blogger can take her stories and experiences as a mother up to the next level and become part of the Motherhood Literati.” – Literary Mama Magazine
(It would be lovely of you to pin this awesome book or share this post on Facebook.)