Several years ago, I heard the writer Janelle Hanchett on the podcast Unmistakably Creative. She was fearless. In short, she said she realizes that some people are going to like her, and some people are not, but what is most important to her is that she tells the truth as she sees it. She got my attention. As a writer — and sometimes as a person navigating this world — I’ve spent a lot of energy putting harmony before truth, just to avoid the fallout. I’m not sure that’s the best use of my gifts.
Janelle writes a blog called Renegade Mothering (Her tagline: join me in the fight against helpful parenting advice). I’m not a mother, but she was so compelling, I checked it out. On her website she says the two blogs that terrified her the most to write — one about her alcoholism, one about race — are the blogs that make her the most proud.
Her blog about her alcoholism was the seed for Janelle’s new and fantastic memoir, I’m Just Happy to Be Here, which is the story of her struggle from young motherhood to addiction and now recovery. I’ve never been in her situation, but I completely related to how she felt, and that’s the measure of a great story. When Janelle recovers, we celebrate the possibility of our own recovery from whatever demons we’re fighting — and we’re all fighting something. Her candor and humor — her truth — show us that we all have a rock bottom, that we all are connected on this human journey, and that creative expression can help set us free.
I’m lucky to now call Janelle a writing mentor and a friend. Buy her book, either online, on audible.com, or at your independent bookstore. You will be all the better for it.