Monday, February 06, 2006

It is my great pleasure today to welcome my friend Andi Buchanan back to the blog. Andi is currently sprinting through cyberspace to promote her fabulous new anthology, Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined. The anthology, culled from the website of the same name, is a gorgeous compendium of mama-centric poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. My story Eyes in the Back of Her Head is included in the book; it's an honor to be pressed between the covers with so many brave and talented women.

Last month, I traveled up to Oakland to participate in a Literary Mama reading. What a delight to meet other Literary Mamas, to soak up their words and their wonderfulness. And, as I mentioned, it was a joy to finally meet Andi in person after years of cyber-friendship. She is a beautiful force of nature. Andi has given mothers an important voice and forum, not only through her websites and series of anthologies, but through her book Mother Shock, which has given so many women permission to tell the full truth about motherhood, the bliss and bother of it. Her own voice is a shining light.

Andi and I sat down for a brief cyber-conversation about Literary Mama and life:

> --How did the idea for first come about, and how were you able to bring it into being?

The site grew out of Amy Hudock's real-time support group for new mothers exploring motherhood through writing. The women in the "Writing About Motherhood" group had put together a collection of the essays, poetry, and fiction that had come about through their writing sessions and discussion, and they were looking for a way to share that work. I met Amy shortly after Mother Shock came out, and when I went to the Bay Area for part of my book tour, I met with her and her group of writers. I read their collection and even talked to my editor about the possibility of publishing it, but she felt like there needed to be more there than just a local group of women whose lives were changed by writing about motherhood.

So Amy and I brainstormed, and suddenly there it was: we would start a literary magazine, featuring the kinds of writing these women were doing, and we would publish writing about motherhood. We'd publish mothers who were famous writers and new writers, fiction writers and nonfiction writers, poets and essayists. We would do this to emphasize the importance of writing about motherhood, and eventually, Amy theorized, we would have enough content on the site to merit an anthology. Within a month or two of coming up with the idea of Literary Mama, we had a site, and we had a roster of editors -- the women who had worked with Amy in the Writing About Motherhood group. Other women came on board, and we worked over the internet, with Amy as editor-in-chief and myself as managing editor, and a network of over 20 editors -- all of us mothers, working around our children, regular jobs, and real lives. Within a year, we'd been named one of's "Best of the Web" picks. In January of 2005, after the site had been live for just over a year, I pitched my editor the idea of a Literary Mama anthology, and she jumped at it.

> --Can you talk a bit about your experiences juggling writing, editing/managing, and mothering?

Well, some days I don't feel so much as though I'm juggling as much as I'm dropping all the balls! But although I feel more scattered than ever before in my life -- probably because I am forced to work now on many things in small spurts, since I have young kids and limited time -- motherhood has actually made me more focused and productive. Since I'm working from home, and my kids are there with me most of the day, I have to make the most of the time I have. (Which isn't to say I don't loaf around or surf the web or procrastinate!) I don't have any organized system for keeping everything together, as my schedule is very fluid and dependent on the health of my kids at any given time; the randomness of school holidays, performances, and parent conferences; and ever-shifting deadlines. I just try to attack the moment when I can, and rest in the moment when that's possible, and hopefully -- eventually -- make progress.

> --What are you working on now?

I'm working on completing a short story, writing a novel, and finishing up a handful of nonfiction book proposals. You know, a little at a time!

> --That little at a time adds up to a lot--I am in awe of all you've been able to accomplish in the last few years. Thanks for being such a wonderful advocate for mothers, and such a wonderful person in general, Andi! Enjoy the rest of your book blog tour...

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