Good Mom On Paper: Writers on Creativity and Motherhood, Edited by Stacey May Fowles and Jen Sookfong Lee

“This is a book born of frustration,” starts Good Mom On Paper: Writers on Creativity and Motherhood. In this collection of twenty essays, edited by Stacey May Fowles and Jen Sookfong Lee, some of Canada’s most revered writers share their intimate experiences with mothering and creativity. Heather O’Neill, Jael Richardson, Alison Pick, and Teresa Wong are a few of the contributing writers who pull back the curtain to give us a glimpse of the hard work of mothering while also devoting oneself to writing.

“This collection denounces the commonly held belief that motherhood and writing are in contradiction to one another– its existence alone is proof enough.”

In their introduction, Fowles and Lee explain how, “when you become a mother who makes creative work, it becomes clear whom our systems are built for, and whom they are built to exclude.” Good Mom On Paper is a thoughtfully curated collection that provides comfort and solidarity in what is described as an industry that doesn’t always value the very real– and vital– experiences of being a mother. It shows the messy, complex, and often fraught experiences of those who are carving out minutes in their day to hope. To hope that the moments they spend writing, revising, and editing will someday turn into the story or poem they know it can be.

This collection denounces the commonly held belief that motherhood and writing are in contradiction to one another– its existence alone is proof enough. In the essay titled Binaries, author Harriet Alida Lye, when pregnant with her first child, asks, “Can I have a book and a baby?” This tightly wound belief that to have one you cannot have the other is something Fowles and Lee unspool completely. Motherhood can make it difficult to write, and concentrate, and nearly impossible to have a room of one’s own, but it can also bring forth creative energy, a need to better understand the world around you. It can sometimes light a fire in your belly that demands attention like a wailing infant.

As I finish the final edits of this review, I am fielding questions from my five-year-old about when I can play, about what he can have for a snack, and showing me how he can drink water through his newly gap-toothed smile. It feels like an act of solidarity with this collection to know that as I attempt to carve out time in my day to write, so many other mothers are doing the same. Good Mom On Paper is a generous book that acknowledges the complexities of what motherhood means to those who create and it deserves to be celebrated for bringing these stories to light.

Stacey May Fowles is an award-winning journalist, essayist, and author of four books. Her bylines include the Globe and MailThe National PostReader’s DigestElle CanadaToronto LifeThe WalrusBuzzFeedViceHazlittQuill and Quire, and others. Her most recent book, Baseball Life Advice, was published in spring 2017, was a national bestseller, and was selected by the Globe and Mail and Maisonneuve as a best book of the year. A former columnist at the Globe and Mail, she currently writes the Book Therapy column for Open Book Ontario. Fowles lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter, where she is working on a children’s book and her fourth novel.

Jen Sookfong Lee was born and raised in Vancouver’s East Side, and she now lives with her son in North Burnaby. Her books include The Conjoined, nominated for International Dublin Literary Award and a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, The Better Mother, a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award, The End of EastThe Shadow List, and Finding Home. Jen acquires and edits for ECW Press and co-hosts the literary podcast, Can’t Lit.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Book*hug Press (May 3 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 226 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1771667478
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1771667470

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Joanne Gallant is a pediatric nurse and writer. She has a biology degree from Mount Allison University and a nursing degree from the University of Alberta. Her debut book, A Womb in the Shape of a Heart, was published by Nimbus Publishing in September 2021. She lives in Halifax with her husband and son.