the original women writers

I’ve been feeling a little daunted of late. Giving up my high flying career to look after my girls seems to have morphed into a full-time child-rearing job, combined with a (very) part-time writing career, swamped by the domestic drudgery of housekeeper, cook, cleaner and general slave to everyone else’s wishes.

As I fight a loosing battle for some time to call my own (having long given up on a room of my own, a desk of my own, a moment of my own), I’m afraid writing has taken the biggest hit. As I lie under the duvet desperately grasping another ten minutes of rest, I console myself that I’m not leaping out of bed earlier than my sleeping angels to write, by the fact that I’m a hectic mother of two under three and exhaustion has won the day. I pat myself on the back for getting through the day without causing anyone any actual physical harm, and meeting my magazine deadlines. I shrug my shoulders at the long list of writing I should / could / would be doing if only I had the time / childcare / energy – my blog (once daily, then weekly, now sporadic), other blogs, my diary, my novel.

But now I must confess to being shamed. I’m reading a book called Can Any Mother Help Me?, about a group of women in the 1930’s who were isolated and bored and stressed from marriage and motherhood. In those days women gave up their jobs when they married and raising a handful of kids by yourself was the norm. One day a lonely woman wrote an ad in The Nursery Times asking if any other mother could help her. She was desperately lonely and isolated, and needed creative interaction. She got so many replies from so many women around the country they decided to set up their own secret magazine. They all took anonymous names and wrote articles about their lives. Taking them through their child-rearing years, through the second world war, through marriage breakdowns and life’s highs and lows, these women found solace in their writing and their friendships. The magazine – called CCC (Co-Operative Correspondence Club) – lasted for over 55 years.

Their lives where often harsh, and many had been educated but forced to become nothing more than domestic drudges after marriage. They endured bringing up their children alone and in austere circumstances during the war and they fought their own battles to find identity, creativity, and achievement. They were brave, funny, witty, enduring, strong and smart. They worked much longer and much harder than I do, and they still found time to write. For 55 years these women literally wrote the story of their lives, weaving a weapon against boredom, domestic drudgery, marriage and motherhood. Life gave them something to write about, and their writing gave their life meaning.

So, it’s 5.30am. I’m writing. And it feels wonderful.

(c) AKG 2008

About Grin & Tonic by Alana Kirk

Bouncing into middle age armed with courage, ambition and a pair of tweezers (chin hairs for anyone over the age of 45 reading this) I am a writer with a mission: to redefine this midway point in my life when the last thing I want to do is hang up my high heels and become invisible. This is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. A single mum to 3 fabulous girls, an author, and a fundraising consultant, both ends of my candle are on fire. As I enter this new stage of my life, I want to explore what it means for 'mid-aged' women today, who were promised they could have it all, ended up doing it all, and just do not identify with the traditional image of middle age.
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