Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and if you’re anything like me, you’re wracking your brain for a special way to honor your mom. Traditional gifts like flowers and jewelry seem a bit cliché, and there are some really unique moms out there. Today, Niagara Families brings you a Mother’s Day gift to last a lifetime, plus a chance to win this amazing experience for one lucky reader!
Firefly Creative Writing is a magical company based in Toronto. Chris Kay Fraser and her team of brave and brilliant writing coaches have created a whole host of remarkable ways for writers of all levels of experience to express themselves. You can witness the magic over in their little corner of the internet, but this year, Chris and the Firefly team are launching a brand new online writing experience that is just for moms.
MOMoir is an eight week, self-guided online course “for women at all stages and shades of motherhood who want to reflect on their journeys, soak up some inspiration, carve out a little ‘me’ time and write, write, write.” The course begins on Mother’s Day, and full disclosure, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing a Firefly writing workshop myself – it was empowering, inspiring, and fun. We were lucky enough to sit down with Chris Kay Fraser to talk about MOMoir and writing.
NF: What inspired you to create a memoir course just for mothers?
I noticed a long time ago that it’s really hard for women to tell real and honest stories about being a mom. I’ve been running writing workshops for nine years and I see it as my job to make a space where people feel safe to write whatever they need to write — whatever is true, whatever is raw, whatever is trying to get out of their hearts. When this works it’s the most breathtaking kind of magic I know. I’ve seen all kinds of stunning moments of openness and vulnerability in my little workshop room.
But, very few of those have been around the experience of mothering.
I’m curious about this. I think it has a lot to do with the stories we’re told about what being a mother will be like — it’ll feel like this, you’ll look like that, you’ll always regret this, you’ll never get over that — our culture is FULL of these “motherhood pictures” that can’t possibly capture the diversity of experiences out there. When we don’t fit into the stories, we often try to hide it.
And yet, oh my god, these stories are amazing. I remember the mother who wrote about her traumatic first birth experience, her belly round against the table with her second child. She left that workshop feeling ready to give birth again. I remember the mother writing about the moment she knew in her heart that her newborn had Down’s Syndrome, the beauty of meeting him and the fear of what would come next, and what this would do to her relationship to her partner and her first child. These moments are inexpressibly beautiful. I want more of these stories in the world.
So, I made a class especially to celebrate and nurture and capture those moments.
NF: Can you tell us about what is unique about the Firefly Creative Writing approach?
Oh, thank you for asking that. There are a lot of ideas out there about what a writing class is, and does, and feels like. Actually (a lot like mothers) there are all kinds of writing workshops out there.
At Firefly we work on creating the environment where great writing can just happen. This means a lot of focus on support, inspiration and joy. There’s no critique on writing for this class, there’s no hierarchy of “good” and “bad” writing. We want to nourish and believe in our students, helping them to feel the glow of their own creativity, and then putting one word after another so that their stories can find their way out.
We’ll be doing that in this workshop through a lot of fun, short, dynamic exercises that lure the stories out. We’ll also be doing that through lots of support and feedback for the women who choose to share their stories.
We’ll also be mailing a lush care package to every participant with dark chocolate, bath salts and some writerly goodies to support them on their paths.
NF:Who is the ideal mom for this course?
Any mother with a desire to write about her experiences and at least 10 free minutes a week will be a perfect candidate for this class. We broke the class down into tiny parts to work around busy schedules and short attention spans.
NF:Should participants have any writing experience?
Not at all! This workshop is for the whole spectrum of writers, from complete beginner to very seasoned. Most women who participate will be beginners.
NF:Are there advantages to an online workshop vs. in-person?
Pyjamas! I love in-person sessions, but they’re very demanding. There’s the scheduling, the commuting, the wearing of appropriate clothes… We wanted this class to be accessible to mothers anywhere, regardless of location or lifestyle or ability to change out of flannel pants.
There’s something else though. I think that “meeting” online can actually open up a level of intimacy and connection that takes a bit longer in person. This was a big surprise to me when I first started experimenting with teaching online, because I thought that there would be way LESS connection, with the screen between us, but I’ve been blown away at how connected, honest, trusting and vulnerable people are able to be with that little bit of privacy and anonymity. I’m excited to see how this affects stories of motherhood. I think it’s going to be incredible.
NF:Moms are busy people! How much time per week does a mom have to budget for this course? How long is the workshop in total?
The workshop is 8 weeks, and we’ve designed it to that you can do it in 10 minutes a week if that’s all you have. Each week there are three assignments (all are audio, so no one has to spend much time staring at a screen). The first will be finished in 10 minutes, the second in 15 and the third in 25. Participants can do all three, or just one, the rest will happily wait for a rainy day down the road.
No one ever has to share their work in this class. To acknowledge the introverts and the extroverts in the workshop, participants will be given two choices at the start — they can work through the material on their own, or they can share each week on a secret Facebook group moderated by a Firefly writing coach. Even those who are part of the Facebook group though never have to share, it’s important to us that it’s always optional.
NF: How can someone gift MOMoir to the mom(s) in their life?
We made the cutest little gift certificate forms. If anyone wants to give this away (or ask for it to be given to them) they can order a gift certificate on our website — www.fireflycreativewriting.com, or drop our amazing office manager a line, firstname.lastname@example.org.