Writing the Mother Wound Online Class with Vanessa Martir


This class is intended for writers. You do not have to be published, but you do have to have some knowledge of the writing process, what goes into writing, etc.

Class Schedule:

Week 1: October 21 (Videoconference 1 on Wednesday, 10/23, 7pm-8:30pm EST)

Week 2: October 28 

Week 3: November 4 (Videoconference 2 on Wednesday, 11/6, 7pm-8:30pm EST)

Week 4: November 11 

Week 5: November 18 (Videoconference 3 on Wednesday, 11/20, 7pm-8:30pm EST) 

The dates above are the days when the materials (video lesson with accompanying slideshow, readings, etc.) will be posted on the shared google folder.

Note on Videoconferences: Attendance on the video-conferences is recommended but not required. They will be recorded and shared with participants. Platform: zoom.us


Tuition: $600 (payment plan and need-based scholarship information below)

Registration: a nonrefundable $75 deposit is required to register. This $75 is deducted from the $600 tuition. The balance of $525 is due by October 13, unless otherwise arranged.  

To register, ask questions, etc., send an email to  writingourlivesworkshop@gmail.com. 

Class Synopsis:

If you grew up like me, you were taught that mother is the holiest of holy. She is a saint. She is the altar you are to sacrifice yourself at, again and again and again.

But what about those of us who have had fraught relationships with our mothers? 

What about those of us for whom mother wasn’t encouraging or supportive?

What about those of us for whom mother was (and still is) neglectful and abusive?

Have you wanted to write about your antagonistic relationship with your mother but don’t know how? Have you found it difficult to dig into these memories? Do you not know how to even begin?

Have you dealt with backlash when you dared to talk or write about your relationship with your mother? Were you told: solo hay una madre (there is only one mother), called ungrateful, treasonous, a traitor? Or have you imagined the scenario and been paralyzed by it? Have you internalized this shame?

I created this class for you.

In the Writing the Mother Wound class, we will:

  • look at how writers have written about the mother wound in various genres– fiction, nonfiction, poetry and plays;
  • read essays and poems, novel and memoir excerpts, and even a play;
  • read excerpts of books by therapists and psychologists who’ve studied the longstanding effects of the mother wound and being the child of a narcissistic parent.

To be clear, this isn’t therapy. I am not a therapist. I am a writer who writes a great deal about her own mother wound, and has read obsessively about it in my own healing journey. I know firsthand how difficult it is to broach this topic, and have found that reading the work of others who have dared to do so, has helped me write my own. 

That said, this class is intended for people who have experience writing and understand what goes into the process, etc. This class is not intended for first time writers.

I created this class using everything I’ve learned in my obsessive study of the mother wound. The research I found was focused on white people who were cisgendered and in heterosexual relationships. I wondered: How have legacies of slavery, colonialism, immigration, genocide, and racism shaped and exacerbated the mother wound for people of color and indigenous folks? I turned to literature and found answers in stories by writers of color. As a result, this class privileges the work of writers of color. 

The goals of the class are:

  • to read and examine how writers navigate and approach the mother wound through their writing;
  • to use these writings as inspiration to write about our mother wounds;
  • to work on freeing ourselves of the shame we carry over daring to want/need to write about our mothers and our relationships with them in a realistic light;
  • to find community in our work and understand that despite how isolating this journey can be (as writers, as folks who navigate “not ideal” relationships with their mothers), we are not alone in it… 

Why did I create the Writing the Mother Wound Class? 

When my beloved brother, Juan Carlos, died in 2013, I reeled into the darkest place of my life. We’re told that when someone dies, the greatest grief is the loss. We aren’t told about the griefs that loss will uncover. For me, that grief was my antagonizing relationship with my mother, whose house I left when I was 13, never to return. My mother, who still punishes me by denying me her love whenever she doesn’t approve of a decision I make about my life, which is often. My mother, who told me when I left an abusive relationship, “Tu no pensaras vivir conmigo.” The thought of moving back in with her hadn’t crossed my mind. Still, it was devastating to learn she wouldn’t take me in; I was a newly single mom of a 1-year-old. That kind of rejection leaves you unanchored in the world. It was a longing for an anchor, a foundation, that fed my obsessive research on strained mother-daughter relationships. 

In the journey, I found there is a name for women like me — unmothered — and there is a name for the pain I carry: the mother wound. 

So much of what I encountered in my research resonated. It helped me see my mother as a woman, not just a mother. I saw a woman who had encountered and endured countless obstacles and traumas, and I began to understand that while my mother did the best she could with what she had, it was also true that the little girl I was didn’t get what she needed. The woman I am today still carries that cross. 

Still, there were questions that remained unanswered. My mother was a brown, immigrant woman who endured the kind of extreme poverty I only saw in the Save the Children commercials of my childhood. Yes, we were poor, but I never went hungry, and I didn’t watch my little sister succumb to a curable childhood illness like my mother did. How did this shape the young woman my mother was into the mother she became? The research I found was focused on white people who were cisgender and in heterosexual relationships. I wondered: How have legacies of slavery, colonialism, immigration, genocide, and racism shaped and exacerbated the mother wound for people of color and indigenous folks? I turned to literature and found answers in stories by writers of color.  

Ultimately, I was searching for stories that could help me understand my mother and why she couldn’t and still can’t nurture me. I needed to know I wasn’t alone in my suffering and that I could survive being unmothered. I found that I can make something beautiful out of my suffering: I can create spaces like the Writing the Mother Wound movement and establish relationships like the one with Longreads where I can help stories like these get published. 

I can create the Writing the Mother Wound Class where I help writers open up and pen stories about their mother wounds; and where I can share:

  • how it was in literature that I found answers to so many of the questions I had about having an antagonistic relationship with my mother.
  • And how researching and devouring stories about strained mother-daughter relationships helped me believe that I could write my story too.

I have amassed so much information and knowledge in my journey that I knew (and still know) it is my duty to share what I’ve learned in reading these countless books and poems and essays and short stories and studies.

I know now that I have been working towards creating this class for a long time. It is my honor to bring it to you.  

Financial Aid:

Tuition for the class is $600. There is a $75 nonrefundable registration fee to reserve your seat. The $525 balance is due no later than October 13th, 2019, unless otherwise arranged. 

Payment plans are available. If one is required, please send an email to writingourlivesworkshop@gmail.com. Payment plans must be arranged before class begins. Payment plan does not include the registration fee.  

Need-based, partial scholarships are also available:

  1. A scholarship of $300 for a writer who is not traditionally educated. This means the writer may not have nor is pursuing an MFA, and/or does not have a high school diploma and/or an undergraduate degree, and not published a book with a major publisher.
  2. A scholarship of $300 for a single parent who would otherwise be unable to participate in the class. 
  3. A scholarship of $300 for a single parent of color who would otherwise be unable to participate in this class.
  4. A scholarship of $300 for an unmothered person.
  5. A scholarship of $300 for a writer who does not fit the criteria for any of the other scholarships, but is financially unable to afford the class because they are unemployed, underemployed, etc.

Details on how to apply can be found here.

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