• Author and HoPP organizer Miranda Weiss leads Saturday classes
By Naomi Klouda
Motherhood’s inspiring power can’t help but give spark to yet more creative kindle when it comes to material for the writer’s life in prose.
Yet, the writing outlet isn’t always within reach, given time and demands on mothers engaged in the day-to-day wonders and trials of raising a child.
That’s why a new course carved out by author Miranda Weiss may be particularly timely just as winter gets a foothold. The class grants mothers a space and time of their own. Weiss, author of Tide, Feather, Snow: A Life in Alaska (HarperCollins 2009), is teaching a four-week course 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays at the R.E.C that will be repeated this winter.
Weiss will be a familiar name after her work organizing the new playground building project at Karen Hornaday Park this summer with co-organizer Deb Cox, as the Homer Playground Project. She also launched another writing-parenting project through Sprout this month, called the Writing Playgroup.
Weiss’ new course, Writing Motherhood, takes its title and little else from a book by that name. Writing Motherhood by Lisa Garrigues recounts her journey as a writer living in New York City trying to balance the needs between her career and her desire to write on her maternalism. Weiss charts her own course for the writing exercises, and mainly found inspiration in the Garrigue’s title alone.
“It’s a creative writing class that uses motherhood as material and as inspiration for creative work. The way I think of it, anytime you have a contradiction, you have a good topic for writing,” Weiss said. “Motherhood can be a whole mess of contradictions for a lot of women. On the one hand, you have little time for yourself. Motherhood can be lonely and isolating for a lot of people. At the same time, you can be an adept professional before you’re a mom. Motherhood is like beginning all over again. It feels messy trying to be a mom.”
In the courses, Weiss provides writing prompts and discusses ways to record those parenting moments—lows and highs.
Another writer, Teresa Sundmark, is working with Weiss and will teach a similar course on this topic in the winter. Sundmark is a familiar face as a long-time Homer Public Library technician. She is also studying for her Master of Fine Arts degree and writing for the blog, “Lofty Minded.”
Her work has appeared in High Country News.
“Teresa and I began to talk, sort of independently and together, we decided wow, there might be an interest in teaching this in this town.”
Artists and writers attracted to settle in Homer means there are likely many women-writers-mothers who would benefit from the class, they found.
The many contradictions of motherhood supply the course with a writer’s sense of urgent importance – or the “conflict” so necessary to creative writing.
“Yet another contradiction is that this is the most important work. You’re being with these tiny people who need your help, but why do mom’s get screwed over by insurance companies. Why is it so hard to get affordable child care,” Weiss asks. “Writing your way out of a muddle is a good way to understand it.”
The lifestyle changes of a new mom surface significant fodder for writing material. Then there are the nagging questions: What is the right way to be a parent to be a mom?
Weiss, who earned her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, is structuring the courses as hands-on writing workshops.
“We spend most classes writing. My main focus in this class is nonfiction and personal narrative. It’s only 4 weeks so we can’t cover too much,” Weiss said. By the end of the course, the goal is that each writer has a few new tools in the kit for writing and revising.
Weiss and Sundmark are gaging community interest with plans for a new course launch in January.
Those enrolled in the course are not required to have any specific skill level.
“I meet everybody where they are at – that could be someone who hasn’t written anything since a middle school book report to those who have taken many writing classes before,” Weiss said. In the end, the writer may have produced an essay to give to their children or may have produced an essay for publication.
For more information, call Miranda Weiss at 299-5550 or write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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