Mama’s Writing is Raising Mothers’ monthly interview series, curated by Starr Davis.
What recent writing accomplishment(s) are you most proud of? Was this accomplishment shared and supported by your children?
I’m grateful when any of my work gets published whether it’s a novel, short story, essay, or a poem and my children are always my best cheerleaders which is fantastic. My novel, Choosing Grace, was a long process from birth to being out in the world and I’m proud of my determination to stick with it, but I’m also proud when I find homes for my poetry too.
Tell about a time mom-guilt emerged (or emerges) in the midst of your writing process.
I’m not sure if I have ever experienced “mom guilt”. When my kids were younger I wrote the first draft of my novel at night while they slept, but I got it done because my goal was simple – write one page a day. That mindset helped me a lot. It relieved the pressure in terms of production – one page is definitely doable, right and it sparked my creativity because of course most nights I’d write like 10 pages but I had reached my goal and if I didn’t write the next night, well I had already written a page for that night since I had written ten pages previously. That was my logic! If I felt guilt, it was more inward like I was given this ability with words and I wasn’t utilizing what I was given, but that was on me. I never felt like my kids were hindering my writing because I enjoyed spending time with them learning and relearning things. It was as if I was a child again.
If you could go back and give yourself advice before becoming a mom, what would it be?
I would probably advise myself to be more focused – I’m a Pisces and we can be dreamers and procrastinators. Ha! I would also advise younger me to be more financially savvy. Don’t waste money. Save it and buy a house. Nothing wrong with buying a home in your late twenties/ early thirties. It would be a good investment to have in your side pocket.
What topics, artistic channels, or forms have become present that were not there before in your writing since becoming a parent?
My oldest is a great and published writer of fan fiction, poetry, and short stories. Fan fiction is a form that didn’t exist when I began writing and if it was, I wasn’t aware of it. Also, now there are online journals that cater to various individuals and genres which was not the case when I began writing. It’s a good thing. More diversity. More opportunities. More insight.
Do you ever find yourself dealing with censorship as a mom-writer? Explain your thoughts on your children eventually becoming acquainted with your work.
My children are in their early twenties and I tend to read many of my poems to them for their opinions, but that doesn’t mean I share all my writing with them! My novel and my erotica stories have several provocative scenes and although I gave each of them an autographed copy of my novel, it was mainly for posterity and to let them know that they are able to follow and fulfill their dreams. I think moms, whether they write or not, tend to censor some things in their lives from their kids because, really, they don’t need to know EVERYTHING mama done did!
How has parenting bolstered or inhibited your creativity?
Parenting takes a lot of energy. Moreso when my kids were younger and needed more time, attention, and guidance. Most of my energy was spent doing those things because I was essentially a single parent. But parenting allows me to see the world through other’s eyes. To think about different viewpoints and concerns that might not necessarily be my own.
Was there a noticeable shift in your writing before and after parenthood? If yes, how so?
I’ve always written about a variety of concerns and topics, but becoming a parent made me think more about family, environment, and social injustice. As a parent in general there’s a lot to worry about, but as a parent of children who are Black and living in a racist society, things can get very real very fast. Even before they made it into the world I questioned whether having a child in a country that hates children, especially little brown children, was a kind thing to do. That question weighed on me. But I homeschooled my children for several years, taught them my values, taught them their history, and now they are well informed and adjusted young adults.
How has the internet influenced you as both a writer and parent?
The internet has provided me with writing opportunities that I probably would not have known about otherwise. It has allowed me to become part of various creative spaces via readings, workshops, residencies. It has allowed me to share information and opportunities with others. It keeps me up to date re: the creative accomplishments and endeavors of others. And as such, it can serve as a motivator and reminder for me to continue to get my work out there. I don’t, however, let it lord over me. I definitely tune out when needed.
How have other mother figures you have encountered in your community influenced your parenting? Your writing?
I find other mothers, especially Black Queer mothers like myself, very inspiring. Even if I don’t know them personally. Their presence on social media provides glimpses into how they nurture their families and their craft, and serves as proof that we are out there doing and conquering.
How do you balance motherhood/parenting and finding the space to write?
Finding a balance between mothering/ parenting, working, writing, and me time can be tough. For me, there is no steady or consistent formula. Sometimes I need to engage in more mothering time, at other times it’s more writing time, and sometimes I just need to sit back, kick my feet up, and relax. So what takes precedence is always shifting because change is constant.
Who are your writer-mama heroes?
One of my writer mama heroes is J. P. Howard. She is an inspiration because she’s seems to always, always be moving on to that next thing. She reminds me to keep striving. Another writer mama hero of mine is Radhiya Ayobani because her poetry is the bomb- diggity! And the energy she exudes is rainbows and light.
Regina Jamison is a Lambda Literary 2014 Fellow. She received her MFA from the City College of New York. Her poetry has appeared in several literary journals among them are, Switchgrass Review, Sinister Wisdom: Black Lesbians We Are the Revolution, Five Two One Magazine, Magma Literary Journal: Deaf Issue, The Americas Poetry Festival of New York Anthology 2016, Promethean Literary Journal, Off the Rocks: An Anthology of GLBT Writing Vols. 14 & 15, and Poetry in Performance Journal Vol. 43. Online, her poetry has appeared in La Libreta Journal Issue 5, Cloud Women Quarterly Journal Vol. 18, Castle of Our Skin: Black Poet Miniature Challenge, Gnashing Teeth Journal, Silver Birch Press – Me as a Child Series, The Lake Literary Journal, and Mom Egg Review. Her poems will also appear in the upcoming issue of the Black Joy Unbound Anthology and BAM 42 Stories. You can read her essays in the Bronx Memoir Project Vol. 5 Anthology and on the Bella Media Channel. Her short stories have appeared in In This Together: Stories of Romance & Survival During the Pandemic, Girls Who Bite: Vampire Lesbian Anthology, Zane’s Purple Panties, and the Lambda Literary Anthology: Gaslight. She was a Guest Editor for Gnashing Teeth Publishing’s anthology, SHE: Seen. Heard. Engaged. Her first novel, Choosing Grace, was published with Bella Books.