Writing the Mother Wound Fall 2021 Edition with Vanessa Mártir

Class Synopsis:

Week 1: November 1st-7th  
Week 2: November 8th-14th
Week 3: November 15th-21st
Week 4: November 22nd-28th
Week 5: November 29th-December 5th

Tuition: $500-$600 sliding scale (scroll down for information on payment plans and scholarships)

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

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

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

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

Have you wanted to write about your complicated 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: You only have 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:

  • define the mother wound, dig into its causes, effects, etc.
  • examine how writers have written about the mother wound in various genres—fiction, nonfiction, poetry;
  • read essays, poems, novel and memoir excerpts;
  • engage in writing exercises to help you write about and make art out of your mother wound.

To be clear, this isn’t therapy. I am not a therapist. I cannot heal you.

I am a writer who writes a great deal about her own mother wound, and has read obsessively about it in my 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.  

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, cisgendered folks in heterosexual relationships. I wondered: How have legacies of slavery, colonialism, immigration, genocide, and racism shaped and exacerbated the mother wound for BIPOC (black and indigenous people of color)? What role does homophobia, transphobia, etc play?

I turned to literature and found answers in stories by writers of color & LGBTQ writers. As a result, this class privileges the work of BIPOC writers and other marginalized people. 

Class Schedule: 

Week 1 (Nov 1-7): What is the mother wound? What do the experts say?
Week 2 (Nov 15-21): Writing the Mother Wound in Poetry
Week 3 (Nov 8-14): Writing the Mother Wound in Creative Nonfiction
Week 4 (Nov 22-28): Writing the Mother Wound in Fiction 
Week 5 (Nov 29-Dec 5): The stakes and the sacrifices in doing this work 

How does this work?

  • Participants are invited to join the class on Wet.Ink, the platform I use to host my classes. 
  • On the first day of each week (November 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd & 29th), students are given access to the week’s lesson plan, which includes readings and exercises. 
  • Lessons are interactive, meaning students can comment on readings, etc. directly on the site, as well as engage with one another and the facilitator. 
  • The class also includes a weekly one-hour videoconference. Dates and times will be decided via doodle poll. While the videoconferences aren’t required, they are highly recommended as the facilitator will elaborate on the weekly lesson, answer questions, etc. The conferences will be recorded and shared with all participants.
  • When the class ends, participants will have the opportunity to share a maximum 1500 word essay with the facilitator, for feedback, suggestions, etc.

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… 


Special Pandemic Tuition: $500-$600 sliding scale (payment plans and need-based scholarship information below)

Registration: a nonrefundable, nontransferable $75 deposit is required to register. This $75 is deducted from the $500 tuition. The balance of $425 is due by October 31st, the day before the start of class, unless otherwise arranged. Need-based scholarships and payment plans are available. 

To register, ask questions, etc., send an email to writingourlivesworkshop@gmail.com with “Writing the Mother Wound” in the subject line.

THE STORY OF WRITING THE MOTHER WOUND: Why did I create the class and start the movement? 

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 complicated relationship with my mother, whose house I left when I was 13, never to return. I’ve felt unmothered and, consequently, unanchored in the world, for much of my life. 

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 human being, not just a mother. I saw a person 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/is 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 is 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? How does homophobia, transphobia, etc. contribute to these wounds? I turned to literature and found answers in stories by writers of color and LGBTQ folks.  

This class came out of this obsessive research and inquiry. 

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 pain.
I can continue to write my own stories.
I can create spaces like the Writing the Mother Wound movement and establish partnerships to publish Mother Wound stories, like my recent partnerships with Longreads and NYU’s Latinx Project.

I can also 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 the relationship with my mother.
  • how researching and devouring stories about strained mother-child relationships helped me believe that I could write my story too.
  • help writers like me turn their mother wounds into art. 

I have amassed so much information and knowledge in my journey that I feel it is my duty and my honor to share what I’ve learned.

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.  


Tuition for the class is $500-$600 sliding scale.* There is a $75 nonrefundable registration fee to reserve your seat. The $425 balance is due no later than October 31st, 2021, 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. Two (2) $250 scholarships for writers of Haitian descent.
  2. One (1) $300 scholarship for a BIPOC writer.
  3. One (1) $200 scholarship for a BIPOC single parent.
  4. One (1) $200 scholarship for a BIPOC unmothered person.
  5. One (1) $200 scholarship for a writer who does not fit the criteria for any of the other scholarships, but is financially unable to afford the class.

How to apply for a scholarship: Send an email to writingourlivesworkshop@gmail.com detailing: 

  1. Which scholarship you’re applying for.
  2. How you are qualified for the scholarship
  3. Explain your financial need–ie. Unemployed, underemployed, etc. 
  4. Why you think you need this class, what you expect to gain from it, and why you think you are deserving of the scholarship beyond financial need.

If you would like to sponsor a full or partial scholarship, please send me an email to writingourlivesworkshop@gmail.com.

*Sliding scale pricing is a type of fee structure where people with fewer resources are responsible for paying a lower fee, in this case, $500.

If you are considering taking this class, and would like a preview, I am hosting a FREE/Donation based preview class on Friday, October 15th, 7-9pm EST.

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