In this month’s installment of the Passionate Moms series, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Sherri Woosley. Sherri is a phenomenal writer, and also happens to be a dear friend and neighbor of mine.
So, who are you?
I’m an associate editor at The Potomac Review, a fitness instructor, a writer, and a mother of four brilliant and exasperating children.
What are you passionate about?
Stories. I understand the world and myself through stories. I earned a Master’s degree in English literature and centered on seeing written and oral works within their cultures. I love literary classics such as Pride and Prejudice and Twelfth Night, but my real passion is mythology. I had the opportunity to teach World Mythology to undergraduates at University of Maryland after I defended my Master’s Thesis exploring the role of women leaders and their supernatural roots in Irish and Welsh medieval texts. You have to have students sitting in their desks for that conversation – anyone else will run away.
Have you always known you would be a writer, or was there a moment of discovery for you?
Oh no, I did not know. Although the complicated and diverse scenarios I enacted with My Little Ponies should have been a clue. I wanted to be Indiana Jones. Teaching at a university and chasing esoteric artifacts all over the globe. I also wanted to be an actress and imagined myself in several leading roles. And a psychologist. To help patients understand their own past in terms of changing the present. Finally I realized, while hooking Bio lab to read Madame Bovary, that I should switch majors from pre-med to English. After I finished my degree, I began writing and publishing short stories. Now I’m shopping a novel to agents.
What is the hardest part about juggling parenting and writing?
As an introvert and an artist, I live in my head a great deal of the time. It was a challenge for me to balance the needs of these little people – their hunger and thirst and even their bowel movements – with my own needs. The day I planned to write one thousand words during naptime was the day – GUARANTEE – that there would be no nap. If I got up early to work, somehow, someone would wake up early right along with me.
There is also a lot of pressure to PRODUCE. That is, my husband works and pays our bills. My children are all in school now. I felt like people whispered ‘what does she do all day’ wherever I went. Now, the rational part of me knows that no one even thinks about me, but I took those feelings and wrote a story called “Very Happy and Very Productive.” It just won 2nd place in the BSFS contest and is currently on submission to a literary magazine. Cross your fingers for me!
What is your favorite part of motherhood?
The runner up is that I nursed my twins and I could eat whatever I wanted, lost weight, AND had big boobs. That’s hard to beat.
My very favorite thing, though, is sharing my own interests with my kids. I introduced my daughter Diana to horseback riding four years ago. She’s a better rider than me now. My son loves books. He’s a know-it-all, but he still asks me for suggestions and we’ll read the new ones like Percy Jackson and Steelheart and then talk about them. Our own book club. My daughter Evelyn loves ice skating and gymnastics. I did roller skating and gymnastics, but pretty close. And my darling Sylvia, youngest by two minutes, is a burgeoning voiceover actor. She does amazing voices while reading books out loud. She’s also really into my graphic novels and we’ll snuggle together and read ElfQuest when the older kids aren’t home.
What have you learned about yourself since becoming a mother? How has your perception of yourself changed?
Being a writer is not about instant gratification. Unless you wrote the Twilight Saga. Most authors work for years to study their craft, edit, re-write. I became frustrated and understood the roles of mother and artist to be separate and remote. When I was sketching a plot, I felt guilty about not being with my kids. When I was volunteering at the preschool, I was seething inside because I wanted to be home working.
I wrote a story entitled “Fusion.” It’s about a mother who goes to a writing conference, but can’t concentrate because she keeps seeing her children. She works toward this denouement in which she is the force that brings the worlds together. It was published by Apeiron Review a few weeks ago and can be read here.
My perception of myself. HA! If I can keep turning all my insecurities and imperfections into published stories then maybe it’s a good thing I have so many flaws.
I also struggle with episodes of depression. These crises are almost always brought on by my comparing myself to friends/authors/total strangers and sulking because I don’t have enough literary talent, have wrinkles when I squinch my eyes and smile too big, haven’t scrapbooked my kids’ years, don’t recycle enough. Jealousy doesn’t help. It doesn’t. But writing has helped me. It helped me to journal when my then 2 ½ year old was diagnosed with leukemia. A gratitude journal to my husband helped when my marriage was floundering. Writing my stories helps get out my fears to a place where I can see and understand them. Sometimes I despair of ever getting my novels published, but I can see that crafting my art has already grounded me. Pie in the sky is to share my work with readers.
Do you know a local Passionate Mom who is following her heart while equally devoted to motherhood? Nominate her today with this simple form!