About Parenting About Publishing Loving But Human

“Should I publish this poem?”

A reader down the coast asked a touching question. She wrote a poem about her son’s addiction. She had obtained his permission to start submitting, and was interested in my take. After reading her piece, I asked her to consider several things:

  • When did you ask for permission?
  • How old was he when you asked?
  • Was it during an in-patient treatment stay?
  • Was he new to recovery?
  • Was he emotionally and financially dependent?
  • Is he emotionally and financially dependent now?

If the answer to any of these is yes, to publish before her child had the maturity to understand, really understand, the emotional impact of being published about would be taking advantage of a minor or dependent adult.


About Parenting Human

Kids, weight, and eating disorders.

Needs sandwich.

I’ve been reading posts from moms who are worried that their kids might gain weight. The links are too numerous to list. Just Google “Alle needs to save everyone.” A telling example comes from a parent who posted that she worries more about her child getting fat than having an eating disorder.

To which I say sadly, your child already has an eating disorder.

As concerned parents have most likely discovered, lecturing children about food groups and healthy fats, putting them on diets has no power. According to Dr. Donna Bevan-Lee of The Legacy Center, neither will saving your own treats after they have gone to bed. Instead, she suggests:

Eat this, my child. E-he-he-he-he!
  • Sit down with your child and a plentiful bowl of whatever you have discovered hidden away in their room.
  • Ask them to help themselves.
  • Sit with them and chat while they eat.
  • Do your level best not to make judgmental faces nor to eyeball what they consume. (Side note: I was once on a binge at party. Stationed by the seven-layer dip, I scooped chip after loaded chip, stopping only when a friend literally grabbed my hand with a “Stop!” Try not to do that to your child.)
  • Repeat process, day after day, until your child says, “No thanks,” and happily trots off to play.
  • Join in the snack.

And there’s the rub. Most people argue with me about the health and viability of the process, but only at the final bullet point do they flat out balk or glaze over and change the subject. I find it so much easier to worry about my children’s food and fat than about my own eating, not eating, carb counting and burning off of each extra bite. Such might the case with another blogger, who posted that she tenses up every time her children ask for ice cream.

This is a healthy weight. Why do I think she needs to drop ten around the gut?

Some conventional wisdom:

  • Most bulimics are average weight or ten to 15 pounds heavier than they feel is ideal.
  • Unless you are also bingeing and purging, being ten to 15 pounds over your self-imposed ideal weight presents no real health risk.
  • Most women who “look great” over-exercise, vomit, use laxatives, and/or undereat.
  • A person need not be technically anorexic to be undereating.
  • Your body doesn’t know the difference between purposeful starvation and regular ol’ starving to death.
  • Starving people aren’t generally kind to their children.
  • Addiction is not necessarily linear.
Unless she is 22, she is too thin. Why do I think she looks great?

Think of the number of people you know with alcoholic parents who never touch a drink. Funny, though; they seem overly wrapped up in work. They also might spend way more than they earn, they might always end up with “the wrong guy,” or wonder aloud, “Why are all the good guys taken?” This is called addiction.

They might be fat, yet their partner is in excellent shape, and possibly always yammering about every carb that goes into everybody else’s mouths. They might be thin- to normal-weighted, but their parents are fat. Their kids are fat.

This is called passing it on to your kids.

About Parenting How I Got That Story

How I Got That Story: Corbin Lewars, memoir

In this special issue, How I Got That Story presents, un-edited and unstoppable, the ‘zinster, blogger, writing mentor, and now memoirist, Seattle’s own … Corbin Lewars!!!

Ms. Lewars reads Tuesday, May 5, 7:00pm at Richard Hugo House as part of  David Schamder’s She Said: Women’s Lives in Poetry and Prose. And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. Corbin:

  • Authored Creating a Life: The Memoir of a Writer and Mom in the Making;
  • Blogs at Reality Mom;
  • Four times a year, publishes a ‘zine of the same name.
  • Other work published in Hip Mama, Midwifery Today, and Mamaphonic

What did you learn most, in the process of building toward then publishing your first book?

Writing books and/or articles is usually the easy part for me. I rarely suffer from writer’s block, so the main barrier to writing has always been time. So once I have something complete, it is agonizing for me to have to wait to hear from other people. And becoming published has been years of me waiting to feel validated as a writer by finding an agent and having articles published. And even once I had an agent and an editor for my book and several pieces published, I thought I could relax and finally stop waiting because I had “made it.” But then I started another memoir and the waiting process started all over again. Becoming a writer has taught me more about patience than years of meditation ever could.

The other big lesson occurred when I agreed to publish my book with a small press rather than hold out for a larger press. Again, this probably has a lot to do with I was tired of waiting, but Ariel Gore, my mentor at the time, told me that her experiences with small presses were usually far better and less riddled with bullshit that with larger presses. She also said that as a new author, the hand-holding and attention I would receive with a small press would be more worthwhile than the advance a larger press could offer. So I let go of the dream of the 6 figure advance and signed a contract with Catalyst Book Press.


Given your current success, what would you say was your tipping point?

Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed about being a writer. But dreaming about writing is relatively easy compared to taking the leap of faith to actually being one. Several tipping points occurred along the way. In 2001, I quit my steady, benefits and vacations paid, yet extremely boring job and started freelancing as an editor and writer. I taught writing, was the editor of Verve (folded a year later, but was fabulous while it lasted), and basically took any paying job that involved writing so I could have the time and energy for my own writing. Two years later, I hired Waverly Fitzgerald as my coach to help me complete a book proposal. Every time I met Waverly at Victrola she called me a writer and I started to believe it myself.

In October of 2005, on the day my daughter was born, I  signed a contract with my agent and thought, “Ahh, now I can relax because my book will be on the shelves of Barnes and Noble any day now.”

Three years later and two books later, I am still nowhere near the shelves of Barnes and Noble. Ariel, once again offered her sage advice and said, “You’ve fulfilled your side of the contract by writing the books, your agent didn’t fulfill her side by selling them, you need to find a new agent.” I followed her advice, but rather than looking for another agent, I started submitting my memoir to various small presses. Catalyst responded immediately and I signed a contract with them a couple of weeks later.

A  week later I arranged a literary event with 11 other writers at Hugo House and performed my first reading to a large audience without barfing. The following week I was interviewed on the radio and am finally able to relax into the knowledge that yes, this will continue to be difficult, but yes I will survive as a writer and no, I won’t have to ever sling cocktails again.

How many pieces do you have out for consideration at any given time?

While querying agents, I tend to do them in batches of 5 or so. Articles I only submit to one place at a time. When submitting my books to large presses, my agent would submit 5 or so at a time; but I would only query one small press at a time.

When you started writing, what were your top three DREAM PUBLICATIONS?

I always imagined that Creating a Life would be published by Seal Press. (Brooke emailed me they are out of the momoir business, so that didn’t happen)
My fiction, Swings, and current memoir, My Year of Pleasures, I want to be published by any large press because I guess I never did give up the dream of the big advance and a publicist to help with promotion. For my essays I wanted to be published in Hip Mama and Mothering (which I have been) and the ultimate, The Sun.

List your current DREAM PUBS.

Anyone who pays. :)

Tell me about your writing life, and where applicable, your life-life.

For six years, I was forced to be a naptime writer. I have two young children and I’ve written three books and many essays all during those blissful, but short moments. Or I write on Sundays, while they chase each other with scissors, or every once in a while late at night, but it’s hard to come down from that.

Last year, my daughter entered preschool and I separated from my husband, so I was able to luxuriate in weekends to myself to write (and play), and a couple of six hour intervals of uninterrupted time to work, which has helped my writing improve and be less scattered.

The biggest hurdle I hear my clients complain about is, “I don’t have time to write” Being a stay at home mom and trying to run my own editing business while also trying to publish books allows me the authority to say, “B*##$%!+.” Make the time.

About Parenting About Publishing Human

A Couple of White Moms Sitting Around Blogging

Toward the end of February, I posted my view of blogging about one’s children. Mom-blogger and photographer Camille Sheppard Dohrn commented with an opposing view so lacking in wounded anger that I contacted her with the following suggestion:

Toy sabers at dawn!

In response, Camille wrote she was happy “to throw open the conversation on both of our blogs, hoping for comments and thoughts from our loyal and faithful readers!”

With an exclamation point of my own to encourage healthy, respectful debate, we are on it. You can read my original post here, and Camille’s unedited response here. To continue:

Two years ago, I heard Philip Lopate speak. (If you ever can, do. It never hurts to sit at the feet of greatness.) He got a standard question for the personal essay set: How does your (fill-in-the-black relative; he got) mother feel about you writing about her? (It is not entirely flattering.) He said she wigs out on a continual basis, but he’s got her character “up and running.” All he need do is sit down to write, and out she pops.

Clearly, he understands the influence his publishing about her has on their relationship. He does not appear to care. One suspects he might even enjoy it. Lopate, however, is publishing about an adult. If he had the same opinion about his daughter, Lily, he would be a schmuck.

Is Camille schmucky? No. I think she, like so many parent-bloggers, has not thought it through from her children’s perspective.

Parents exist to meet the needs of their children, not the other way around. When told to take down the post, Camille did. That she is open to hearing negative feedback from a smaller, less powerful person who is dependent on her for survival says a lot about her parenting. That her teens felt they could share go her with their opinion says a lot the relationship she has fostered. I know plenty of 40- and 50-somethings who are afraid to be honest with their parents, and I would wager that their feeling of not being heard—of not counting as a full person—started early and was reinforced plenty.

On a seeming tangent: I like to wear v-necks. The cut supports the illusion that m’boobs are H-W-P. About three years ago, my son of as many years started telling me he was not comfortable seeing what we call “private parts.” Basically, I ignored him. My daughter started in on it when she was two. I began to pay attention. With a red face, I now see that the appearance of my breast size was more important to me than my children’s needs. At the same time, I was raising them to understand the difference between public and private behavior. To quote myself, “That is why they are called private parts.” All the while walking around, Cleavage Mama. As small as my children were, and as young and as powerless, they were aware of the contradiction. Lucky for me, they were comfortable saying so.

As much as I believe that mothers are sexual beings with the right to our sexuality, we can chose to support our children’s well-being over our own self-expression and vanity.

Additionally, it is my firm belief that blogging about one’s children is dangerous, but that is a different post. First, I would like to hear Camille’s response. And yours as well.

About Parenting About Writing The Glam

Is it official: Alle is a “hip and cool parent.” (Dave Ross said so.)

Dave and some blonde.

Attention all KIRO 9-noon fans (That would be The Dave Ross Show; “spreading drive-by wisdom to the masses”): I listen to Dave most mornings; big fan. He is smart, funny and so genuine, and he dislikes a certain idiot politician as much as I do.

This morning, he read us a clip about a school motivation program that ran in four cities, and asked us to guess why it worked only in one (Dallas). The answer was simpler than anybody but a Montessori teacher would guess. I called in a got it WRONG. Nevertheless, Dave engaged me about my blog, and from there, my writing. (He asked if I was I was a parenting expert. Tee hee!)