Motherlode: The Tripwire of Writing Real Family

Rooms 328-329, Summit Building, Seattle Convention Center, Level 3
Friday, March 10, 2023
3:20 pm to 4:35 pm


Family is often seen as the domain of mothers, but writing the domestic as a woman is fraught with a multitude of landmines—emotional, legal, psychological, and more. When writing as mothers or about mothers, are there ways to shield ourselves and our children, without sacrificing truth? Is it possible for a family to negotiate the way their shared story is told? What happens when our job of exposure clashes with our familial duty to protect? Where are the boundaries and where do they blur?

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: Motherlode_AWP_Outline_2023.pdf



Kelly McMasters is the author of The Leaving Season: A Memoir and Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town. She coedited Wanting: Women Writing on Desire and This Is the Place: Women Writing on Home. Her essays are in New York Times, Lit Hub, River Teeth, and more. She teaches at Hofstra University.

Joanna Rakoff is the author of the bestsellers, My Salinger Year—recently adapted into a feature film starring Sigourney Weaver—and A Fortunate Age, winner of the Goldberg Prize for Fiction. Her family memoir, The Fifth Passenger, will be out in 2022. She writes for the New York Times and Vogue.

Sonora Jha is the author of the novels The Laughter (Harper Via, 2023) and Foreign (Random House, 2013) and the memoir-in-essays How to Raise a Feminist Son (Sasquatch/PRH, 2021). Her essays are in the New York Times, Seattle Times, DAME, and others. She is a professor of journalism at Seattle University.

Rebecca Woolf is a writer, columnist, and the author of two books: Rockabye: From Wild to Child (Seal Press) and the forthcoming All of This: A Memoir of Death and Desire (Harper One). Formerly, she authored the popular parenting blog, Girl's Gone Child. She lives in Los Angeles with her four children.

Jane Wong is the author of How to Not Be Afraid of Everything (Alice James, 2021) and Overpour (Action Books, 2016). She is an associate professor of creative writing at Western Washington University.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center