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Alana: 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 losing 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 (now pregnant with my third) 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 stressed and bored and isolated from marriage and motherhood. In those days you gave up your job when you 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.

It’s 5.30 a.m. and I’m writing. And it feels wonderful. Thank you Creative Construction – a little modern CCC.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Community is powerful, isn’t it? Staying connected is a huge motivator for many. The book sounds intriguing–adding it to my “buy me” list! (Not yet published in the US, but does sell it.)

    July 10, 2008
  2. cathy #

    alana, i was fascinated by your discovery of these depression era women doing what we’re doing here! i would love to read more on them. i’ll have to get that book, too.

    July 10, 2008
  3. Amazing. I would love to read some of these CCC magazines. Sounds fascinating. My grandmother was (is) a depression-era farmwife. She did not write, but she truly benefited from something similar – the one creative outlet that she had – her quilting circle. Another collaborative project, a chance to share and connect, a release from the harshness of life and never-ending work. Thanks for sharing this.

    July 10, 2008
  4. happyshackdesigns #

    Sisterhood, whether blood or not, is an amazing thing, isn’t it? I just finished reading The Secret Life of Bees and was entranced by it. This sounds like another one I need to add to my reading list.

    July 12, 2008

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