Good-nervous Elation

Publisher, editor and author Ariel Gore reads at Food For Thought

Author, Hip Mama founder, publisher and editor Ariel Gore may be a lifelong Left Coaster, but that didn’t stop her from hearing about Food For Thought’s financial struggles this past fall. “I was there maybe seven years ago. So when I heard, I donated to their Kickstarter campaign,” Gore tells the Advocate. “Then I reached out to see if I could do a reading there.”

Gore will be at Food For Thought this Sunday, March 23 at 4 p.m., reading from her new memoir The End of Eve. The book chronicles Gore’s experiences taking care of her dying mother. It is her “most vulnerable book” to date.

“Part of writing for me has been about getting more comfortable in my own skin, to not censor myself,” Gore says, adding that a lot of people in her supposedly narcissistic generation face the reality of declining parents. “But what does that look like? What do we owe a difficult parent?”

Self-described teen welfare mom Gore crashed the literary scene with her parenting zine Hip Mama back in 1993. After suspending publication for the past five years, she recently began printing again, and just published its 20th year anniversary edition.

“Back then it was, ‘Oh, you’re a lady author, that’s so unusual.’ Even the radical press was male-dominated, and extremely white-dominated,” says Gore. “People take you more seriously as you get older. But some writers still have a hard time getting their voice out there. Things change slowly.

“I’m coming from various communities that have traditionally been told to shut up: feminist, queer, single mom writer,” she continues. “Authors are men of a certain class. That’s what we were trained to believe. But the fact is, I’m not an old-school traditional author. And the writing world is full of outsiders.”

Gore’s newest work The End of Eve is her favorite. As it should be. “Of course I encourage anyone who wants to write memoir to go for it, but part of me also believes that memoir belongs to us—to the quiet daughters and the caregivers, to the single moms and the runaways, to the money-poor wannabe-artists and the queers, to those of us who’ve only seen ourselves as bit characters in ‘more important’ people’s dramas,” she says.

That philosophy has constantly been reflected in her work. Anthologies edited by Gore include The Hip Mama Survival Guide: Advice from the Trenches on Pregnancy, Childbirth, Cool Names, Clueless Doctors, Potty Training, and Toddler Avengers; Breeder: Real-Life Stories from the New Generation of Mothers; and Portland Queer: Tales from the Rose City.

Throughout her career, Gore has not only championed the telling of other people’s stories, but challenged herself to continue putting her own voice forward. In her enjoyable and accessible How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead: Your Words in Print and Your Name in Lights, she urges all writers to do the same, even if they think they aren’t ready.

“As an artist, a writer, there is a process to it,” she says. “But the process has its imperfections. If you send a couple embarrassing stories out there, you take the power out of that. Not to say you shouldn’t put your best stuff out there, but give yourself deadlines,” continues Gore. “It’s easy to talk ourselves out of publishing.”

It is far more difficult to create the kind of DIY literary career Gore has created.

“I’m proud I managed to get this book out, that I keep learning to stop shutting up,” Gore adds. “And I’m happy that it’s making people laugh in that elated and good-nervous kind of way.”

(Originally appeared in the Valley Advocate.)

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