Blog post by Susan M. Lemere
In 2010, I made a decision which baffled most people who knew me. I enrolled in the Solstice MFA Program, adding it onto a plate which, with a job and a 3-year-old I was raising alone, was already pretty full.
I’m not going to say it was easy. There were times when I felt like a juggler with too many bowling pins in the air, worried I’d drop one, or, worse, that they’d all clatter to the ground at the same time. Still, at Solstice, I was doing something I loved, surrounded by others who loved the same thing, and energy and hope which came with that.
And sometimes, the seemingly disparate parts of my life came together in surprising, rewarding ways. A client from my work inspired a short story. An essay by a classmate gave me new insight into a parenting dilemma. My daughter (then age five) shouting at graduation, “That’s my mommy!”
Then, life after graduation challenged me all over again. Without the same built-in access to my writing community, I had to figure out how to make time and space for my writing, and stay connected with other writers. Some of my early worries resurfaced. Could I really do all this? Seriously? In one lifetime?
Email and Facebook became new ways to connect with my Solstice friends, as did the residencies I frequented as a “guest”. These helped me remember I was still a writer and was not alone.
Gradually, I began to again find places where the important parts of my life merged. I taught a writing class at a county jail, for instance, and wrote poetry to cope with a client’s sudden death. These things helped with my balancing act, but I still often felt stretched pretty thin.
Then, I found a Classifieds ad in Poets and Writers magazine about a new online community, scheduled to launch in May, 2015, for single mothers. It was called ESME, for Empowering Solo Moms Everywhere, and the ad called for people who could edit, write, and bring expertise about topics that might concern single mothers. I went to the ESME website to learn more and found that two of the topics were Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault and Addiction, both focuses of my clinical work. I hoped to be considered for one topic page or the other, and was thrilled when I was hired to edit both.
Since then, I have been busy researching, writing, editing, and connecting with single moms. My Solstice education in fiction writing has helped me to zero in story ideas, and my experiences as therapist and single mom inform much of what I write. And I feel I am making a difference!
So if you’re thinking about getting more serious about your writing but can’t imagine how you’d juggle it all, I urge you to take the plunge anyway. In my experience, and to paraphrase that old Captain and Tennille song: “Love, love will bring things together.”