Writing Like A Renegade

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.

From there we moved onto another class of Janelle’s called the Renegade Writers’ Group. The purpose of the six-week challenge was accountability. We each chose a word count goal, identified a project we wanted to work on, and wrote for 30 days, then revised for two weeks. Throughout those six weeks, we had weekly conference calls to discuss our progress, share our challenges, and celebrate breakthroughs. 

When the six-week period ended, a funny thing happened: we wanted to keep writing together. Now we have written thousands of words since 2015. We still have monthly conference calls. We’ve met for two different writing retreats.

We’re still here and we’re working our asses off because we made the decision to write anyway. Write because we had shit to say and because we had stories inside of us that needed to get out.

We are women, mothers, wives, blue-collar workers, doctors, lawyers, and teachers. We are sisters in this writing life and it can be hard and overwhelming and we write through it and about it and within it.

We started this blog to share our stories about how we write around the puke and blood and loss and heartache and love and bliss.

a laptop computer surrounded by hundreds of Lego pieces.
Where I usually write—writing around the Legos

We all know that if we stop, we will lose a part of ourselves. Every single one of us is different. We all have a voice and we all have something to say. We hope that our voices will be a part of the chatter in the world today and that our readers will find connection in the things we have to share.

For some of us writing is therapy.

For some it is speaking the truth on the page that we don’t speak out loud.

For some it is waking up a silence.

For some it is being part of the resistance.

The power of this group of women lies in our ability to light the fire for one another and consequently, for ourselves. We have found a space in the midst of our busy lives in which to write because we have learned to do so with fists balled up against everything that tells us we shouldn’t or that we can’t. We have learned to fight for this time and that it is a priority, no matter what else we have going on. Most of us are mothers; all of us struggle some days with getting up in the morning. All of us have anger and demons and angels on our shoulders. The walls are down and the egos are gone here and we are able to say it like it is and break through to the other side of our own silences.

It is hard work finding this Bohemia, this artist’s retreat among the piles of dirty laundry and dishes and permission slips. And honestly, I don’t think I would have realized how important it is to me unless I found like-minded women to help me through.

I am writing a novel. Others are writing memoir. One of us has just published her first book and another of us will next year. All of us have worked hard and fast at times to get the words on the page. We support one another in the writer’s life. We have all come to realize, through literal blood, sweat and tears, that we don’t have to be the ideal image of a writer in order to write. We have learned that all we need to be writers is to write, to do the damn work. Sell cheese and write. Teach and write. Fix people’s brains and write. Fix people’s bodies and write. Write and write and write. And that’s why we are still here and why we won’t ever stop.

We can’t live in a writer’s retreat, although all of us wish we could. But we can find our own little slice of Bohemia, if we try hard enough, in the every day of our lives. I can find it in my kitchen when my kids are eating dinner and my husband is playing his guitar on the couch and I have my laptop open and the words are fluid. I can find it in a coffee shop in fifteen spare minutes before work. I can find it in the car, silent, on the side of the ocean on the way home from work. We have to want it and we have to do our best to find it and stay in it awhile. Every day. That is when the magic happens.

Outside of Pescadero retreat house
Our actual writer’s retreat in the hills of California, nestled in the fog line.

2 thoughts on “Writing Like A Renegade”

  1. Yaaaay, good to read the Bohemian Renegades are off to a divine start. Well done. Keep this shit up, cuz I’ll be fixin’ to read it!
    fellow Renegade.

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