Stephanie and I began thinking about the topic for our next anthology as soon as we began working on My Other Ex. We had a lot of ideas, but nothing felt like a topic that we urgently wanted to tackle.
That is, until one of our contributors, Alexandra Rosas, describing her experience with Postpartum Progress and its Climb Out of the Darkness, suggested postpartum depression. Alexandra had been inspired by the stories of the survivors that she met and thought that so many women could benefit from hearing more of them. As someone who went through my own postpartum struggles, I was immediately drawn to this idea, as was Stephanie.
Today we’re thrilled to tell you about our next anthology, a call for submissions, and our first writing contest.
MOTHERING THROUGH THE DARKNESS: Stories of Postpartum Struggle
Approximately 1 in 7 women suffer from postpartum depression after having a baby. Many more may experience depression during pregnancy, anxiety, OCD, and other postpartum mood disorders. Postpartum depression is in fact the most common pregnancy-related complication, more widespread than gestational diabetes, preterm labor, or pre-eclampsia. Yet confusion and misinformation about postpartum depression and anxiety — from their symptoms to timelines to prevalence to treatment — are still widespread. Myths surrounding mothers’ mental health challenges can have devastating effects on women’s well-being as well as their identities as mothers, too often leading to shame and inadequate treatment. Although postpartum and antepartum depression and anxiety are temporary when treated, untreated mood disorders can lead to long-term consequences for both a mother and her child. A mother can feel very alone, ashamed, and hopeless. And keep silent.
Mothering Through the Darkness: Stories of Postpartum Struggle will be a unique anthology with the goal is of breaking that silence.
With this collection of essays, we will try to dispel these myths and focus on the diversity of women’s experiences, through the voices of mothers themselves.
Call for Submissions: Mothering Through the Darkness
The best way out is always through.” — Robert Frost
The HerStories Project is seeking unpublished, first-person essays from mothers about their experiences with postpartum depression, anxiety, or other mental health struggles during or after pregnancy. We’re looking for well-crafted, true accounts that explore and examine aspects of this experience.
Submissions must feature a strong and compelling narrative. We’re looking for well-written prose, rich detail, and a strong, distinctive voice. (For more about what we’re looking for, here is an article that I wrote about personal essay writing with a few more suggestions.)
Guidelines: Previously unpublished essays between 1,500 and 4,000 words. Please also submit a short bio of 50-100 words, including previously publications. To submit, see the link at the bottom of this page.
Deadline: December 1, 2014
The Writing Contest
Your submission to Mothering Through the Darkness can be, if you choose, simultaneously entered into the first HerStories Project Writing Contest. The HerStories Project will award $500 to one submission for Best Essay and $100 to two runners-up. All three winners will receive a paperback copy of the book and will be published in Mothering Through the Darkness.
To cover the costs of sponsoring the contest, we are asking for a $10 reading fee. If this fee presents a financial hardship that would otherwise prevent you from submitting an essay, we will waive this fee and this will not affect the status of your entry.
To submit, see link below at the bottom of the page.
Judges: The essays will be judged by the editors of the HerStories Project, as well as several talented writers whose lives as mothers or as clinicians have been affected by postpartum depression and anxiety. These judges will include Lisa Belkin, Kate Hopper, Katrina Alcorn, Julia Fierro, Dr. Jessica Zucker, and Lindsey Mead. Essays will be judged on their emotional power, originality, and quality of their prose.
Katrina Alcorn is the author of Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink. She is a writer and a design consultant. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and documentary filmmaking from UC Berkeley and blogs at WorkingMomsBreak.com.
Lisa Belkin is the Senior National Correspondent for Yahoo News. Previously she has held staff positions at the New York Times and The Huffington Post. She is the author of three books and the editor of two anthologies.
Julia Fierro is the founder of The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she recently published her first novel, Cutting Teeth, an Oprah Pick of the Week.
Kate Hopper is the author of Ready for Air: A Journey through Premature Motherhood and Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers. Kate holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota and has been the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, and a Sustainable Arts Grant. She teaches classes and holds retreats for mother writers.
Lindsey Mead is a corporate headhunter with an MBA from Harvard who also writes for her popular blog, A Design So Vast. Her work has been featured in numerous anthologies.
Jessica Zucker, PhD is a psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive and maternal mental health. A consultant to PBS’ This Emotional Life and the Every Mother Counts campaign with Christy Turlington, she has been a contributor to NPR and is currently writing her first book for Routledge on maternal attachment.
To submit your essay to the editors of The HerStories Project, please visit here:
(Note: If you are submitting only to be considered for publication in the book — not to the contest — after you click the “Submit” button above, please select “Mothering Through the Darkness: Stories of Postpartum Struggle.” If you are submitting to the contest — as well as the to the book — please select the “HerStories Project Writing Contest.”)