Use Your Words: A Book Review

One good thing always leads to the next.  At least, if we dare to take the bait.

Addie Zierman’s When We Were On Fire led me to Kate Hopper’s Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers.  (Which in turn led me to Sarah M. Well’s Pruning Burning Bushes. and now I have Kate’s Ready for Air waiting to be read.)

For a busy mom who loves to write and already is spending too much money, taking a writing class in the form of a $13, go-go-at-your-own-pace book was perfect.  My copy’s curled cover and scared pages have not only fueled my need to write, but brought me closer to my kids.

One of the back cover’s recommendations says this book is “part writing workshop, part anthology, part mothers’ group…”  I agree.

Kate has a gift for teaching.  Even in printed form her encouragement and honesty presents teacher you can trust and relate to.  She has been there…and knows being a mother and writer is not easy.

Here are a few of the many things I cherish from Use Your Words:

1) No, we can’t rely on blocks of writing time each day.  But yes, we can write in the carpool line, during gymnastics class (me!), or in the sweet moments of the day when the thought comes and you have to write it down.

2) The act of writing about our relationships with our children, but most importantly, the roll of motherhood, slows us down to really experience this crazy and blessed time.  With all the attention our son is needing right now and trying to finally get ordained, I worry about our daughter falling in the cracks.  I wondered if I really knew her, but by looking at her through the eye of a writer, I realized that I am giving her the attention she deserves.  I do know and cherish the sly smile and the turn of her head, her sweet toes that she loves painted pink, and her amazing observation skills.  With Kate’s direction, I was able to slow time by putting words to paper.

3) The process of writing a memoir, for publication or not, is something I have to do.  While I continue to write in a journal that will capture our lives more than my grandmother’s “I did this” daily recordings, the stories that will be recorded – and the perspective I have of them – will be something potentially to cherish.  Plus, they will give my kids’ future therapists a better base to work from.

4) The short stories written by other mothers that Kate includes in this book gave me hope…their voices, while talking of other situations, mimics the yearning and struggles that we talk about at my mothers’ group.  We all have the same basic fears and worries.

5) Knowing the craft of writing is extremely important.  From my own experience, just writing was helpful for my life, but only after taking writing classes did I feel freer to write.  Kate covers all the areas one needs to know to get started.  She is easy to understand, and the writing prompts provide hours of writing inspiration.

By taking our mothering and writing seriously, we can take ourselves more seriously.  This is our life.  Things are definitely not always as expected or wanted, but they are to be cherished.  Writing somehow makes the time slow down and adds depth to the experience.  So if you are a mother and want to write (or are writing), read this book.

I was hoping to follow Use Your Words with Ready for Air, but found I needed to put that idea on hold in order to fully cherish that experience.  So for now, I’m working on Writing as A Way of Healing, by Louise DeSalvo.  It is a perfect compliment.  Now I just need the time and money to take one of Kate’s online classes or attend her week-long writing retreat!

God of Writers, help us to slow down and really see the world, those around us, and ourselves through writing.  You have given us this amazing gift of expression, one that through the Word, You have raised up as a means of transformation.  Lord, help us.  Amen.

Interested in writing with others?  Join us at the Blessing House in Victoria, MN for Writing First Sundays, 2-5pm, or Writing Spiritually Evenings in Minnetonka, MN with Under The Trees Community.

About SFriant

I live to walk with others on their journeys - because everyone needs to know that they are loved, that they matter, and that they are doing amazing things. I'm a lot like our two kids: obsessed with learning, and constantly creating.
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