Two Fridays ago, I got an email that mamazine was closing up shop. The editors at mamazine have run the zine for 3.5 years, and are off to see what else life has in store for them.
I was surprisingly depressed for the rest of the weekend. Not so much because my column no longer had a home, but because I have read every single edition of mamazine since the first one. In hindsight, I see that the community Sheri and Amy created for those lucky enough to join in has been a sort of parental lifeline for me. Every piece of poetry and prose tugged at my heart strings. There are some wonderful zines out there about parenting, but I think mamazine was up there in the top echelon.
And now a story.
When you’re trying to establish yourself as a writer, rejections can get a bit overwhelming. It doesn’t help that many rejection letters don’t give you any sort of clue as to why they don’t like what you’ve submitted. Once or twice I’ve written an editor back asking what I could have done to improve on a piece, and never heard anything.
Early in mamazine’s existence, I sent a very brief essay in. Sheri emailed me back with a list of questions about the piece, and encouraged me to keep working on it. It’s really the first and only time an editor has said to me — It’s not there yet, but it could be — what if you explored this, or this, or this? Usually, I just get a standard-form rejection. I spent the next two days glued to my computer desk, reworking the entire piece. It was accepted.
Sheri’s feedback on my essay was a defining moment in my career as a writer of creative nonfiction. Before mamazine, most of my essays had been published in regional parenting magazines. And now when I go back and re-read them, I see they are a bunch of sentimental crap. Sheri’s feedback showed me how to go deeper and encouraged me to be fearless when exploring how I really felt about motherhood.
I wish Sheri and Amy all the success they deserve, for whatever life has in store for them.