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Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway: Day Four Book By Kerry Cohen

I first encountered Kerry Cohen from the audience at a panel I attended at AWP a couple of years ago. She was talking about her book, Loose Girl, and I found her honesty and gutsiness refreshing. Please help me welcome Kerry Cohen to the book giveaway!

Introducing Kerry Cohen

Kerry Cohen is the author of six books, including the internationally bestselling Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity and Seeing Ezra, A Mother’s Story of Autism, Unconditional Love, and The Meaning of Normal. She has appeared on Good Morning America and Dr Phil, and her work has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and many journals and anthologies. She lives in Portland, Oregon with the author James Bernard Frost and their four children. Learn more at Kerry-Cohen.com.

Learn about Seeing Ezra: A Mother’s Story of Autism, Unconditional Love, and The Meaning of Normal, Seal Press, 2011

Seeing Ezra is the soulful, beautifully written memoir of a mother’s fierce love for her autistic son, and a poignant examination of what it means to be “normal.” When Kerry Cohen’s son Ezra turns one, a babysitter suggests he may be “different,” setting her family on a path in which autism dominates their world.

As he becomes a toddler and they navigate the often rigid and prescriptive world of therapy, Cohen is unsettled by the evaluations they undergo: At home, Ezra is playfully expressive, sharing profound, touching moments of connection and intimacy with his mother and other family members, but in therapy he is pathologized, prodded to behave in ways that undermine his unique expression of autism.

It soon becomes clear that more is at stake than just Ezra’s well-being; Cohen and her marriage are suffering as well. Ezra’s differentness, and the strain of pursuing varied therapies, takes a toll on the family—Cohen’s husband grows depressed and she pursues an affair—all as she tries to help others recognize and embrace Ezra’s uniqueness rather than force him to behave outside his comfort level. It isn’t until they abandon the expected, prescriptive notions about love, marriage, and individuality that they are able to come back together as two parents who fiercely love their little boy.

Powerful and eye-opening, Seeing Ezra is an inspirational chronicle of a mother’s struggle to protect her son from a system that seeks to compartmentalize and “fix” him, and of her journey toward accepting and valuing him for who he is—just as he is.

I asked Kerry three questions about our giveaway’s theme topic, self-expression:

1. Is self-expression an important part of your life today, why or why not?

I think that my memoirs prove that it is!

2. What does self-expression mean to you and how do you do it in the world?

Self-expression means honesty in communication. I do it largely as a memoirist, but also with my children, partner, and close friends. I believe that who I am as a “writer” and persona closely matches who I am inside, and I’m proud of that. My goal is authenticity in just about everything I do. It’s when I feel most whole and connected to the world and other people.

3. How does your self-expression impact the world—your family, your friends, your readers, and everyone else?

Many people feel intimately connected to my work. Others hate me with such vitriol you’d think I killed their dogs or something. My sense is that what happens when you reveal yourself as I do is that people then project what they need to on you. It’s like they I’ve made myself available for their use, to work out their own stuff. I don’t always love it, but I accept it.

And Now, Your Turn…

You remember how this works right?

Please read the complete rules at least once!

I ask you a question.

You answer in the comments for your chance to win a book each day.

Please just respond once, even if you make a typo. ;)

Answer in the comments in 50-200 words (no less and no more to qualify to win one of today’s books).

When was the most creative period in your life thus far? What were you doing and why do you think the juices were flowing so well then?

Ready, set, comment! I will hold the drawing tomorrow and post the results here in my blog.

Thanks for participating in the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway!

And thanks for spreading the word. We will be giving away great books by wonderful women authors all month.

View the complete list of authors and books.

View the giveaway Pinterest board.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ellen Hall Saunders May 4, 2013, 5:56 am

    This is a trick question! My first response would be that the past few months have been the most creative period because as an empty nester I have finally been writing a lot. The creative juices have been flowing and it is incredibly satisfying to finally be doing what I had dreamed of. But when I look back I see that in each phase of my life I have depended on creativity to get me through: creativity in cooking, creativity in parenting, creativity with my children when they were small – I loved doing art projects with them! Quilting was a creativity outlet during those years too. Creativity is what has enriched whatever phase of life I am living.

  • Sara May 4, 2013, 6:41 am

    I was creative as a kid, in projects and imaginary worlds, but since last fall, I’ve found a lot of energy around creativity, especially writing. I always hated when people said you needed to make something a priority, but in part my creative work is because I made it a priority. I also recognize that my kids, while still very little, are at a stage where I have a little more time and sleep (though it still doesn’t feel like enough). Having health insurance from my husband’s job is factor too. Being able to scale back my paying work not not cover that every month has freed up time and energy for more creative projects. The great thing I’ve found is that creative work brings new energy to lots of parts of my life.

  • Lara Krupicka May 4, 2013, 6:44 am

    Ellen, I was thinking the same thing. There have been periods of my life where I put writing aside because it seemed too overwhelming and I was getting nowhere (like when my children were babies). During those times I was intensely creative using my hands – crafting, sewing, painting and decorating our house. So the creativity for me seems to always flow, just in different mediums.

  • MLTCG May 4, 2013, 8:27 am

    I began writing three years ago, these are my best years of writing. I knew what I wanted to write about. My life and family are
    wonderful, but when it comes to my birth father I’ve always felt my rights were ignored. How could I help others like me?

    I mapped out a story board and knew what my message was, but I wasn’t sure where to go from there. How do I accomplish my goal without hurting others feelings?

    This is why I love the Month in May and 21 Moments. The questions are great, they make me take a different perspective and at times Christina responds, especially when she thinks you should just get on with it, as she did with me. Her advice was to write a novel not a memoir. Fiction! A much more complicated project but worth the effort. I had never considered writing fiction, however this short but pointed message got me moving. I’ve
    developed new writing skills, started a blog, and began researching authors I admire. Thanks to Christina this year I feel good about my book.

  • barbaramcdowellwhitt May 4, 2013, 8:47 am

    In the days of carbon paper, onion skin, typewriter erasers, correction fluid and the manual portable typewriter I received as a high school graduation gift in 1961, I knew there had to be something more. I had the feeling that if I waited, that something more would happen. It did – with the advent of the Internet. Each day I spend online I know my creative juices are flowing.

  • Renee Roberson May 4, 2013, 9:01 am

    The past year has been very creative for me as I’ve pursued writing fiction more and more. Oddly enough, it all stemmed from being rejected from two different low-residency MFA programs last fall. I thought to myself, “You know what? I really don’t need to put myself in debt for a three-year program in order to write fiction!” Since then I’ve completed a middle-grade novel, received a runner up award in a flash fiction contest and am making revisions to a YA book. For me, I guess you could say that rejection fueled the
    ultimate inspiration.

  • Tiffany Doerr Guerzon May 4, 2013, 9:49 am

    Right now! I think it is because I left my left-brain job and became a professional creative. I’m finally doing what I was put on earth to do.

  • Sue LeBreton May 4, 2013, 10:41 am

    I feel I am just entering the most creative tim in my life. At age 50 I feel like I can focus more on myself and my wants and desires than I have allowed in the past. Like the profile author I have a son with autism and managing the therapy and other medical issues sapped all my creativity.

  • Mar Junge May 4, 2013, 11:50 am

    I’ve been my most creative at different periods in my life
    depending on the type of writing required. My most intense, introspective writing occurred during the years I was trying to get pregnant, with three conceptions ending in miscarriages. Desperation and despair fuel creativity.

    When I gave birth to my beautiful daughter, I wrote joyous
    personal essays for four years before running out of time to write when my second and third children were born. (This was long before Christina began inspiring mamas to keep writing.)

    I produced my most creative fiction during the five years I
    studied under Novelist Floyd Salas. In our weekly classes, we competed to be the most creative of the old dog writers and raise the creativity bar for the young pups.

    Being a professional writer teaches you to be creative on demand. Ghostwriting Suhaila’s autobiography inspired many of the fiction stories that eventually became a Young Adult novel.

    These days I crank up the creative juices when I need to develop ad concepts and headlines. And every year I’m creative in the month of November as I struggle to write 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo.

  • Mar Junge May 4, 2013, 11:58 am

    Barbara, I recently showed my son, a creative writing major, my old manual Smith Corona typewriter. He typed out a few pages and said it helped him understand why one of his professors says that computers have made us editors instead of writers.

  • nathashaalvarez May 4, 2013, 12:52 pm

    When I first started http://www.audacitymagazine.com I was so excited and passionate and focused that I think that’s when I was the most creative. As I get older, I want to do more and more. I become overwhelmed and it squashes my creativity. I realize that I can have everything not just all at the same time.

  • Judy May 4, 2013, 2:12 pm

    I just finished a
    deeply satisfying and creative period—bringing Listen to Your Mother to my local community. I find my creativity ebbs and flows, and like many who have
    commented here, the project or medium varies. What makes my creativity flow so
    well is passion, focus, and commitment. Of course, relying on tools like
    benchmarks, punch lists and support from my husband, kids, and colleagues, and
    the space to make it happen, is necessary as well.

  • Kristin Graham Wesel May 4, 2013, 2:56 pm

    The most
    creative time in my life was recently when I started taking crochet classes, knitting Christmas gifts obsessively and taking the “21 Moments” writing challenge. I was spending more and more time on the creative and less and less time on cleaning the house. In the past, I never wanted the creative to completely takeover, this time I did. I started knitting, crocheting and writing with a vengeance, so much so that I came up with debilitating pain in my arms and
    shoulders. I went to the chiropractor and she diagnosed me with Left Brain Hemisphericity; a condition where the sides of the brain are firing at different rates and my creative right-brain had finally tipped the balance in its favor and caused the pain in my left arm. She told me to do things that would activate my structured left-brain, like organizing closets. At first I was in disbelief. I organized one closet and then another and my arm has been healing and my left-brain is feeling less neglected. I found a bunch of my old writing, under my bed. Now that my left-brain has had a turn, I think it is time to get creative again!