None of us would be writing this blog or much of anything else if we hadn’t found Janelle Hanchett’s blog, Renegade Mothering, and then taken her online writing class together. And we couldn’t be more excited to tell you how her new book, I’m Just Happy To Be Here: A Memoir of Renegade Mothering, is changing our lives once again. If you don’t run out and buy this book after reading these reviews, you are clearly a heartless robot. Janelle, we love you, you jerk face.
My first book came out two months ago.
I’d always imagined I would write a book one day, but in that way you do when you’re not actually writing. As long as I wasn’t trying, I could cling to the fantasy that at some unspecified future date, when the stars and planets aligned, I would sit down and bust out the Great New Zealand Novel.
I never examined this ambition too closely, because I knew when I did it would shrivel under the harsh glare of scrutiny. For one thing, you have to actually write, preferably every day, to produce a novel. I never did that. For another, you have to have an idea. Any kernel of an idea for a book or even a short story that I could conjure up always seemed staggeringly unoriginal. Very occasionally I might take one of these anaemic ideas and play with it for a while, but before long I would abandon it in frustration, bored and disgusted with my cheesy, derivate prose. My computer is full of these abandoned files – a thousand words there, a thousand words there – which I refuse to open, yet still can’t quite delete. Cringe.
I have written more in the past year than at any other time in my life. I’ve published book reviews. I’ve entered writing contests. I’ve offered feedback to friends on their writing. And I have written a 50,000+ word manuscript. Sure, it’s messy, and it needs some deep revision, but I wrote those 50,000+ words and I’m proud of it.
This writing has been squeezed in around parenting a three year-old, maintaining our family’s schedule, dealing with quite a bit of change in my original family, and working a full-time job. I know what you’re thinking. I’m Superwoman, right? You’re thinking, like the book turned movie title, “I don’t know how she does it.”
Here are some things I’ve let go in order to write in the past year. I am not proud, but when people want to know how I get it all done, this is the real answer.
In an interview with Terri Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air, Toni Morrison spoke frankly about writing in the midst of life, not in grand moments apart from it:
And I remember very clearly I was writing with a pencil. I was sitting on a couch, writing with a pencil, trying to think up something and remembering what I just described. And I was – the tablet was that legal pad, you know, yellow with the lines, and I had a baby. My older son was barely walking, and he spit up on the tablet. And I was doing something really interesting, I think, with a sentence because I wrote around the puke because I figured I could always wipe that away, but I might not get that sentence again.
We are ten women who all signed up for Renegade Mothering blogger, Janelle Hanchett’s Write Anyway class in 2015. It was an online course designed to break down barriers we all face when deciding to write. We hailed from all corners of the globe. We learned about how to give less of a shit about our fears in writing. We learned about how to write through it all even when it was hard and we wanted to give up.