Tag Archives: mom writer

New Podcast Episode With Megan Dolan

In this episode Expressing Motherhood speaks to Long Beach mom/writer/actress Megan Dolon.

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I recently watched Megan in her one-woman show, “Snack.” She performed it as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

It can’t get any more real than this. Megan Dolan is a powerhouse storyteller, a veritable “Desperate Housewife” coming to terms with own fears and anxieties in the most practical and careful ways, through vivid, lively writing that strikes a beautiful, emotional balance between past and present. Highly Recommended. —Tracey Paleo (Gia on the Move)

Sunday, July 12th at The Asylum Lab you can grab her show one more time as it has been extended.

We talked about how she would write for 10 minutes each night after her two young kids went to bed and that’s how she wrote her show. We covered a lot more and you can listen to the episode here. It’s also on iTunes. Please subscribe! You can also listen to it by clicking below.

Check Out Moms and Family Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Expressing Motherhood on BlogTalkRadio

Megan will be in the upcoming Expressing Motherhood cast in DTLA in September.

Two Time Performer, Sarah Maizes, Has My Children Obsessed

Sarah and her children
Sarah and her children

Sarah Maizes is a two time performer in Expressing Motherhood. She’s the mother of three, a writer, performer and now children’s book author. Last year, Sarah offered to give us a copy of one of her recently published books for giveaway in Expressing Motherhood.

She sent me two copies….so, naturally, I kept one for myself. That’s natural, right?

On My Way To The Bath is a very fun book indeed. I would venture to say that the hilarious antics of the child in the book can hit close to home for most of us when attempting to give a child a bath or anything else, really.

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Sarah has had great success with this book, and I can see why. My children have been obsessed with it for weeks. We read it over and over and over, in the same night.

 

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What has been saving us (Or me) from the redundancy of reading the same book over and over again is my 5 year old son. First of all, he can read, so we take turns being the child and the mom in the book…and we get animated…we don’t just read the book, we perform the book for each other. It’s a lot of fun!

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My son’s obsession is performing this book for us.

 

 

 

Last night, however, my son read the entire book to us on his own before bed.

Those are truly spectacular moments.

Wordless Wednesday

With 1 1/2 hours to myself today…I headed to a local Starbucks to make several lists…and cross things off. Thinking of you and your last performance Susanna Morgan! What you dont see in this picture is several notebooks and a latte with enough espresso to power a car. Happy Wednesday 🙂

Elizabeth Aquino

Elizabeth Aquino is an LA mom who will be performing in our show this month for the second time. She blogs over here. And just created a beautiful video that she collaborated with other parents of children with disabilities.

How were you creative pre-kid?
My daughter Sophie is going to be eighteen next year, so it’s been a long time since I was “pre-kid,” but my creativity was always expressed through writing. As a young child, I wrote poetry and short stories and made efforts at novels, and reading books was my great passion. Before I had Sophie I was a pastry chef, and creating beautiful cakes and pastries was another way to express myself, although the work was far more grueling than writing!
 
How have you been creative post-kid?
My daughter was diagnosed, out of the blue, with a terrible seizure disorder when she was three months old, and I can honestly say that my creativity — at least as far as writing was concerned — stopped. I didn’t write for probably ten years — for various reasons, but mainly because I was utterly immersed in our survival. The world I was thrust into — the world of disability — took every ounce of my concentration, and I remember noting things that happened in my head, saying to myself that “it will go into my book one day.” When Sophie was ten years old and I lived in Los Angeles, I took a writing workshop at UCLA Extension under a wonderful teacher named Barbara Abercrombie and began writing again. Before I knew it, I had a series of essays that I began submitting for publication. By then, I had two MORE children, my sons Henry and Oliver, so I found plenty to talk about — and write about — and write about. Once I started, I never stopped. I now have a blog that has taken on a life of its own with a community of writers and parents and artists that sustain and inspire me.
 
When and how do you find the time?
I write for a few hours after my kids go to school and late into the night. I’m a night owl, so that’s no problem! I also carry around a little notebook that I use to jot down random thoughts and ideas. I use those as a sort of springboard for what I write. Posting daily in my blog also helps me to be more disciplined — often what I write there inspires my writing offline.
 
How has your creativity changed?
Being a mother, particularly to a child with severe disabilities, has given me a lot of confidence. I also know that given the amount of stress I’m under daily, as well as how it’s ongoing, I have to take time for myself and nurture the part of me that is creative. Otherwise, I would truly go insane. At the same time, I think my creativity was expressed quite differently before I had Sophie and my sons. It’s a constant challenge to unwrap my identity from them.
 

Expressing Motherhood in LA next month

Just in case you didn’t know, our stage show will be up and running next month, here in Los Angeles.

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We will be at The Banshee in Burbank this time and like totally don’t let the 818 factor get in your way. It’s just a hop over the Hollywood Hills and a stones throw from Studio City.

We will have convenient parking, Porto’s Bakery across the street and Eat Well right next door to us. As always, wine will be served inside.

If you see one of our postcards around time, snap a photo and hashtag it with #expressingmotherhood

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We will give you a free glass of wine or bottled water at the show. This show proves to be fun, titillating and of course make you sigh, but just a bit this time.

Holly Hughes

Holly Hughes is a mom who left LA for a quieter life in NC. The day she was packing up to move I emailed her and said we’d like to have you be in our show. So she flew back to LA for two weeks after she moved to perform in our show, here in LA. She is a producer who left film and television production behind to pursue her own dream. She is currently working on my first Young Adult novel. She has one daughter and you can read more of Holly’s thoughts here. 

I’ve hit that point in the process of writing my first YA book where I’ve fallen out of love. Like any long term relationships it has ups and downs. This is normal. I checked in with Samantha Dunn to make sure. I didn’t trust myself. I would have asked Kimberely Griffiths Little to hold my hand through my neurotic moment, but she is very busy with her own revisions to her books that I didn’t want to bog her down with my shit.

I’ve had a disappointing week. I didn’t win the Pen Parentis Fellowship. I haven’t heard back from two different magazines about essays I submitted, I sent a short story out to Cricket and I check my mailbox every day for my SASE, and I ventured into WriteOncon and my stuff didn’t get the attention of any ninja agents, or much feedback in general and my ego is screaming HEY YOU! PAY ATTENTION TO ME! WHY AREN’T YOU NOTICING ME? PLEASE LOVE ME, I NEED YOU TO FALL IN LOVE WITH LIFE-LIKE!

Instead of accolades I’ve had to deal with the reality that writing is brutally hard often isolating work. This stack of paper represents the last four months of work. The pile depicts two binders containing drafts of LIFE-LIKE.As you can see, it’s four inches thick. And that doesn’t include all the paper I’ve recycled. At first this amount of writing felt like an accomplishment, however after putting my manuscript down for two weeks and letting an editor correct my grammatical errors I picked it up and read it through, as a book on the printed page, and the feelings of achievement were replaced with doubts. I looked at all those pages and the years of work they represent and thought, this stinks.

All I saw was a flaw. I always felt a lull in the writing at a certain point, I felt myself run out of steam, and as a reader with fresh eyes the lull screams at me, “Hey Holly, this sentence isn’t as good as the rest. It has to be. Get back to it.” Or in the ever brilliant words of Tod Goldberg, “This part of your story doesn’t suck. You must write it all on that level.” (he said that to me way back when in 2004 when I was working on a short story) I think it’s good that I can recognize weakness in my work but now I had to figure out how to make it better.

I paced, watched sad movies, then I watched action movies, did errands and even folded the laundry but nothing came to me. I read and reread the offending chapters. And I pinpointed where the changes would have to come in the book. I understood I must up the ante, increase tension and drama and that is difficult to write. I do know enough about my process to accept that I layer one thing(character development, plot, setting) in at a time per draft. I was happy to see the changes I made previously are consistent throughout the book. But they are too consistent. Who wants to read that?

My self-pity and the realization of how much work I have to do led me to self loathing.

And then I figured out one idea that can be turned into a scene that will change everything. Now I have to write it. And I have to write at least three to five chapters that carry that momentum forward before the emotional end. And I’m begging my imagination and my guides and God to help me do it now. I want all the ideas to flood in and I want my fingers to have difficulty keeping up with the story, but that isn’t happening.

That’s when doubt came along and sat next to my computer screen and stared at me. See him? He’s a crabby little bugger. Doubt is trying to convince me I can’t do it. I can’t fix the story or sell it. I think I’m going to have to show that crafty bugger he’s wrong. I’ve got to go. LIFE-LIKE is calling to me. We have unfinished business.

 

JJ Keith

JJ Keith is a Los Angeles based mom of two who will be performing in our upcoming show next month here in LA. She originally posted this on her own blog, it’s about the frustration of trying to write with two young kids.

Death Knells of Double Tall Caramel Macchiato.

Doing anything with two toddlers is like walking in ten feet of snow, barefoot, underwater, in 125 degree heat while it’s hailing. Did I mention uphill? And it’s a really steep hill. So running errands with my three-year-old daughter and my one-and-a-half-year-old son is not my favorite thing to do. Every bump in the sidewalk is a potential calamity and every shop door a terrifying barrier. While out and about I struggle to not accost passers by and demand, “DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THIS IS? STOP LOOKING SO CAREFREE AND RUBBING IT IN MY FACE!”

But because I had no choice I took my kids with me to do a string of errands, all of which were on one street so at least we were able to walk from store to store. After navigating four shops with two kids and one false-alarm-potty-emergency, we schlepped to Starbucks to pick up a double tall caramel macchiato, a treat for me to sip when I put the kids down for their naps and could finally get to my writing. As we entered Starbucks my daughter cut in front of my son’s stroller, blocking me from entering the store. “No coffee. I don’t like coffee,” she asserted. Not content to let the point rest there, she continued in her meandering but utterly charming three-year-old style: “You’re not being nice. It isn’t fair. Swiper no swiping. No coffee. I like coffee cake. We have a coffee table. I hit my head and they you say, ‘oh no’ to me and I say, ‘watch out, there’s a bear!’ I’m a princess and you’re a kingdom and he’s a jaguar. Rwar rwar!”

But I wanted that double tall caramel macchiato so I picked my kid up with one arm and pushed the stroller through the doorway with the other. Once my daughter was placated with promises of chocolate milk and coffee cake, I had a moment in line to scope out the store for writers, a dangerous thing to do if you’re a stay-at-home mother hustling to write every moment her children are sleeping. The problem is that I don’t make enough money writing to pay for childcare and thus don’t have the time to write enough to make the money to pay for childcare. I hate that this is how the world works, but despite the inherent frustrations, I love being a stay-at-home mother, or at least I do when I’m not running errands.

As I waited to order, I set my eyes on a man by the condiment bar working in MS Word. I pinned him as a creative type who had time to waste before getting down to working on his assignments, all of which were surely well-renumerated. I glared at him as my children squirmed and whined, and felt such a flood of envy that if I had been pricked with a pin at that moment I would not have bled, but oozed vitriol. As the man gazed out the window and let his document evaporate into a screensaver, I fantasized about grabbing him by the lapels of his finely hewn natural fiber jacket and demanding the business card of his agent. Or better, just pushing him out of the way and filling his screen with words, good ones, probably better than his. I wanted that man to offer to watch my kids while I wrote something huge and spiraling, something that would hurt to read. Then I wanted him to apologize for taking my job, as if there’s some finite amount of work for writers and everyone who has an assignment screwed me over to get it.

But instead I ordered my double tall caramel macchiato, picked it up from the bar, then set out for my car with the kids in tow. The whole way home I thought about the coffee I would drink, the words I would write and the way I would feel completely like myself as I did so. I convinced myself that an hour and a half is enough time to write. Since becoming a mother, I have tended to my writing like a daytime campfire — something I don’t need just yet, but when the night falls I’ll throw everything I’ve got on it until flames lick the sky. As much as I savor the buttery rolls and slippery hair of my babies, I am looking forward to the time when I can be a mother, but also something else.

When we finally got home, I parked my double tall caramel macchiato on the dining room table while I got my kids situated. As I tended to my son, my daughter peed in the bushes and — consequently — her shoes. While I was washing the pee off her feet, my son climbed on the table and sent my coffee tumbling to its death. It’s almost as if he didn’t realize that I’d conflated that cup of coffee with the writing career that I can’t seem to grasp when I already have a kid in each hand.

As my coffee bled out on the floor, I dropped to my knees and cried, at first because I wanted that coffee so badly, but then because I was crying over coffee. After a moment of hideous self-pity, I got myself together, and mopped the coffee up so I could get to work.

Susan Sheu

Below is our first creative mom that we will be featuring, the first of many we hope! Susan Sheu has performed in our show here in LA before and will be again this Fall. She’s a mother to two children.  

When my first child was two years old, I took a weekend writing workshop with a Famous Writer.  My father had died several years earlier, and trying to process the grief gave rise to the germ of a family memoir.  I’d been writing on and off since before my daughter was born, although not in a systematic way, just bursts of memories I recorded while stealing time away from my real job (as a graduate student in public health).

But ever since my daughter was born, the desire to write a book burned brighter than ever.  Having given birth to a new generation, I discovered that being a parent gave me new insight into the story I had been trying to write about my parents.  When I wasn’t too tired, I’d write in short, intense bursts in the middle of the night, inspired by something that had occurred to me during the day while schlepping my daughter around to the park and Mommy and Me classes.  It was the best I could do at the time, and what flowed from my brain through my fingertips into the computer felt true and raw and necessary.

In the writers workshop the Famous Writer held up my densely packed personal essay after my fellow writers had read it and said,

“This is what happens when you don’t allow yourself to write very often.”

I was caught off-guard, but I didn’t take offense.  I could tell by her substantive critiques that she viewed what I’d written as decent material.  She meant not only that I would need to carve out more time to write but also that there is no shortcut to a fully formed piece of writing or any piece of art.

My daughter is almost ten years old now, and I wish I could say that I’ve completed my book; it sold well; I have a killer literary agent and a contract for my next book.  That is not the case.  Nearly seven years ago, I gave birth to a baby boy, and he has proven as great a source of inspiration to write and distraction from writing as his older sister is.  As John Lennon wrote, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

But I have been working as much as I can, reading, taking part in writers groups, classes, and workshops when time permits, and I have written and performed pieces in writers’ shows in Los Angeles (including Expressing Motherhood).  Some of the best classes I’ve taken have been with the writers Samantha Dunn, Amy Friedman, and Hope Edelman at the UCLA Writers Program.  When I am a quivering shell of an LA person who’s been driving too much to write, I drive to LACMA or the Getty or go see performances by the friends I’ve made who are actors and writers.

 

 

I’m happy to report that I am writing this from my first writers’ residency (some people call it a writers colony, but that sounds too much like nudist colony for me).  I’m at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts along with a group of other writers, visual artists, and composers who are in residence for anywhere from one week to one month.  It’s beautiful, quiet, and inspiring, and someone else is doing the cooking and cleaning. My kids are with my husband and my mom back in LA, and we FaceTime once a day.  I wouldn’t have been ready for a residency a few years ago, but I am now.  And I believe that the book that’s nearing completion now is better than the one I would have written several years ago, when I was a younger mother full of piss and vinegar.