I just finished a “momoir” writing class: a class dedicated to helping moms write their stories. It was a fantastic class (put on by SheWrites) and I learned more than I had hoped for.
I learned technique (write in scenes, write in the present tense, etc) and I got wonderful feedback on my work. I met an awesome group of moms who are all struggling with motherhood and living to write about it. And most importantly, I had the chance to reflect on why we write.
We write to tell the truth. There are other reasons, of course. But when you brush away the vanity of seeing your thoughts in print, the exhilaration of finding the perfect word, the ability to take the time to craft a thought, what you’re left with is this: you write because you know a truth so important that you’re compelled to share it.
Since coming to motherhood I’ve discovered that, while I don’t know what the hell I’m doing most of the time, I also know more about the truth. And I want to share it. The truth that parenting is really hard and sometimes involves a lot of anger, that being a stay-at-home mom can be incredibly boring, that girls should never be forced to play with only certain kinds of toys, that sometimes you have to do what’s right for your baby, even if it isn’t what’s right for you.
The truth is powerful. And often uncomfortable. Sometimes too uncomfortable. But you have to face those uncomfortable truths and you have to write them, both for your own sake and because you owe it to your reader. And you have to tell the whole truth. Because only half a truth isn’t really the truth at all.
If I tell you that being a mother sometimes makes me angry, but I don’t tell you that once at 3:00 a.m. I slammed the door so hard I broke the door jamb, or that one morning when she wouldn’t go back to sleep after 5:00 a.m. for weeks in a row, I ripped the curtain off the curtain rod, or that sometimes I have to dig my nails into my palm so hard it leaves marks, just to stop myself from doing something worse – if I don’t tell you those things I haven’t told you the truth. And you might think: “ok, she gets angry, but I’m sure she doesn’t get as angry as I do. I must be the only mom who ever feels this way.” And then my attempt to connect with you might just leave you feeling more lonely than ever.
These uncomfortable truths are what draw people in, what make them want to hear more. It’s what makes us feel like we’re not alone, in parenthood or in life. As writers we need to tell those truths, more than anything else. So I will, always, strive to tell the truth here. It is, after all, why I write.