Title: Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers
Author: Kate Hopper
Publication: Viva Editions, 2012
My Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5: I Love It
My Summary Statement: Loved It -- An Empowering Book -- A Writing Workshop for Mothering Memoir in Book Format
I loved this book and am happy to have read it as it finally addresses the topic of mothers writing about their lives. Formerly all I could find on the market about women writing was feminist or general about being a woman, and either absent of addressing motherhood or was anti-motherhood, or was more politically charged, which was not what I personally was looking for. This book is not Pollyanna or saccharine though, as it does address the challenges of motherhood and includes some emotional, gut-wrenching stories. Hopper encourages us to write of our experiences: whatever they are. Unlike other books there is NOT the impression that "if you went through X experience then you deserve to write about it but if you are leading perhaps a more ordinary life then you are not worthy". Hopper knows the ordinary can be deserving, but whatever it is you have to say , if you want to write about it, you should.
Hopper has been teaching writing workshops for over a decade. In this book she tackles one topic per chapter. After addressing the general ideas she shares samples of other people's writing (and sometimes her own) and then a discussion ensues, very similar to what happens in her workshops. She shares viewpoints of some of her students as well as writing as teacher so as a reader I felt that I was participating in a workshop rather than just reading words on a page. At the end of each chapter are a few writing exercises to get us to practice and experiment with what we just learned about.
Some of the topics are general writing topics but tailored to writing memoir (or creative nonfiction as she prefers to call it), such as chapters on voice and writing with humor. Other chapters cover topics such as writing about difficult topics. Some covers issues such as what we should think about when choosing to write about our families, spouses (“partners”), and our children. Near the end of the book she tackles blogging and the idea of moving from blogging to publishing the work as a book.
I enjoyed Hopper’s writing style and the way the book was arranged. I learned some new things about writing that would help me move my writing from where it is to become something better, since I just keep writing off the top of my head without knowing how or what or why I should try to do something different. I think I’ve hit a plateau with winging it and that it’s time that I address some of my weak spots. The book helped me realize what my weak spots are and I’ve learned about some options open to me that I should try.
I rate this book 5 stars = I Love It and recommend it to any mother who wants to write about her mothering journey who needs some help getting started as well as anyone looking to push their writing to the next level. Between the short 200 page length and Hopper’s colloquial and non-intimidating writing style I found the book enjoyable, and easy to read, and empowering.
Disclosure: I was given a review copy of this book by Amazon.com for the Vine program. See my blog’s full disclosure near the top of my blog’s sidebar.