2017 was the year I became a freelance writer – yes, people actually pay me to write for them!
It turns out I only write for places with a capital S in the title. Like these ones:
I’ve felt really lucky to start writing for The Spinoff this year, for both the Parents and Books sections.
Here’s one I’m particularly proud of, first up, a satirical press release on MPs being mothers: A future with mothers in the house
My first piece for the Books section was a round-up of the Storylines Notable Picture Books, which became a lament about underrepresentation:
Why do so few of the best books feature girls, Māori or Pasifika characters?
Then it was my job to find some:
22 picture books that feature Pasifika or Māori children
I’ve done quite a range of things for the Parents section, edited by the marvellous Emily Writes. She’s very kindly commissioned a few specific things that I wouldn’t necessarily have thought to write about, and also published some pitches from me on various topics:
There’s a God in our Christmas (to complement an article from another mother called ‘There’s no god in our Christmas’)
A kind of sprawly piece, but also one of my favourites: Think Big for Kids: 5 big ideas (and dozens of smaller ones) to protect children and support families
I’m all about saving pregnant people’s brainpower: ‘I’m going to stop you there’ and other conversational comebacks to protect your pregnant soul
In the category of golly-I-wish-we-weren’t-still-having-this-conversation-but-I-made-the-mistake-of-reading-the-comments-and-clearly-we-have-to: What’s wrong with having boys’ and girls’ toys?
I had a riot writing this feminist satire on a book that’s actually a favourite in our house: The Tiger Who Came to Tea: A true story
And an interview/book review with a creative team of mums: Little Gems.
Do you use Storypark? It’s a web platform for Early Childhood Education Centres to communicate with families – and among teachers, for planning and so on. Invented by a mother-son team from Gore, and now used around the world!
They have a blog attached, with articles for parents and teachers, and I’ve started writing regularly for them.
First up, the lovely editor, Sonya, asked for a piece on communicating with religious families:
And that led to a series on communicating about values with small children:
I’ve done some ‘seasonal’ articles, on Halloween and Christmas:
Putting the love into Christmas
Stop the cobwebs and ghouls (at ECE centres)
And I’ve been delighted to be able to do a bunch of book lists (I DO LOVE A GOOD BOOK LIST!):
12 fabulous books featuring great dads
Six great dinosaur books for young scientists
Better Books: Do your books have characters that look like the children in your neighbourhood?
Better Books: Does your book collection encourage gender equality?
One of the highlights of my year has been becoming an editor (EDITOR!) for an amazing new website, The Sapling.
I was a regular reader and had written one piece for the site (on picture books featuring different kinds of families) when founding editor Jane Arthur had a baby, and now I’m filling in for her while she cuddles Baby Pete. It’s been a delight!
Some of my work highlights: casually emailing several of my literary and political heroes to see if they’ll write for us, and then working with them on their articles, like, say, THE PRIME MINISTER, Zak Waipara, Jenny Bornholdt, Nick Bollinger, Ned Barraud, and Sacha Cotter and Josh Morgan.
I’ve also written a few more pieces myself, like this fun list of kiwi books (kiwi birds, that is), which my children helped with.
Two other big projects I loved working on:
Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, where I worked with guest editor Nadine Millar, one of my favourite essayists, to curate a fabulous week of five features.
And Sarah Forster, the other founding editor, and I put together a list of the best books of 2017 – lots of work, and very satisfying.
I am Brilliant and Amazing, and so are you
A surprising amount of my time and energy has gone into – and come from – a set of new Facebook groups I’ve been part of setting up, named for a mantra I’ve been hoping will catch on for some time now.
A year or so ago, when my friend Miriam asked if I knew of any groups for people who were juggling writing and motherhood, and I couldn’t find one, we started our own.
BRILLIANT+AMAZING+WRITERS+MOTHERS is now an incandescent ball of love and hilarity, and the kindest place on the internet.
It spawned a fantastic four-day mothers-and-children writing retreat, and even its own website, where you can see links to our members’ writing, and a series of astonishing anonymous essays from our members.
Once the Brilliants grew to 500 members we capped it and have just started another couple of groups for any women who want a safe, supportive place to get encouragement, motivation and tips. BRILLIANT+AMAZING+CREATIVES and BRILLIANT+AMAZING+ACTIVISTS are open to new members. I also admin a group called Christian and Feminist – feel free to join us!
Did you know there’s a dedicated financial institution for churches and charities in Aotearoa?
Christian Savings (formerly Baptist Savings) lends to organisations like churches, understanding that even when they have fluctuating, donation-based income, they’re still good bets.
Lucky me, I got to work with them this year on their new website, their magazine, and a few other bits and pieces. Check them out, and feel free to hire me to write for you, too! Email me at sacraparental [at] gmail [dot] com.
And, um, Sacraparental
When I first started this website, I posted about five times a week. Whoa!
That was back in the days of blog comments – remember when people used to come and chat and even make friends in our lovely comments section?
Browsing habits have changed a lot, and comments happen in social media instead, and don’t tend to generate the chat and relationship-forming that used to happen here, but that’s just the way of the online world, as connectivity and devices change and patterns shift.
Now I’m down to about once a month. There are lots of reasons, of course, but the two main ones are that a) I’m writing elsewhere too and b) I now write much more work-intensive, aiming-to-be-super-helpful-resources kind of posts, rather than shorter musings.
Such as these (click on the images to see the posts):
One more enormous writing project: the 8000-word application for a schooling exemption for my now six-year-old son, SBJ, so he can educate himself without being in a school.
More on that another time, but this post on his self-starting environmental activism sums up a bit of who he is and why I think it’s gonna be great.