Basically Kerouac lied

by Janelle Hanchett

You know, I always thought it would be cool and romantic to be a poor Bohemian writer. You know, give up stability to follow your “Art.”

I mean Kerouac sure made it sound fun.

It’s really not that fun. Of course I’m not a Bohemian or a beatnick, also I’m not sure you could call this “Art.”


And I write. So there.

A few years ago I had a job in a law firm. It was a great job. The best part of it BY FAR was the fact that every two weeks (notwithstanding some disaster on account of my drinking habits), a check arrived in my bank account, like clock work. It was amazing. I got up and went to work every day, and in return, money appeared and I could use it just as my little heart desired.

Do you catch the yearning in my voice?

Good. Cause it’s real.

But as the years passed, this weird itch started forming in my gut somewhere. I started writing this blog thinking it would fix it, and it did for awhile, BUT THEN IT GOT WORSE.

It’s like I tasted writing, I tasted the sweet nectar of f-bombs and honesty (cause really that’s pretty much what this thing is, right?) and then all you people came into my life and I fell desperately in love and fell over one day in awe that all the sudden people were reading this blog, and they are fucking awesome people.

I thought I wanted to be an English professor. I quit my job at the law firm.

I was getting my M.A. in English and planning on pursuing a PhD. But then this post happened in February and some writing opportunities came and I started writing for Parenting magazine (they were sold to Parents and I lost my gig) and allParenting (I have a column there called “My Outside Voice” in which I get all political (cause like a good friend I mostly keep that stuff off this blog)). And Brain, Child published a couple pieces on their website, which was my dream, but mostly you people keep happening and I want to write, to you, for me, for us, not because I speak for you or because what I’m saying is important or profound or whatever, but because you seem to hear me, and me you, and there’s something fucking real there that shouldn’t be ignored.

You have to understand I didn’t anticipate any of this: I just wrote because it was in my heart and I wanted to, and I had to, so I did, to kill that incessant itch. And I’m amazed and overwhelmed at the opportunities that have arisen from that “itch.”

Ok let’s stop talking about itches. It’s starting to remind me of STDs. OMG Gross.

I graduated from the M.A. program, but I didn’t go to PhD school.

I devoted my life to writing, because of all that above.

I had two writing gigs and was a consultant for the firm and it seemed like this would all be fine. Ah, but I lost the Parenting magazine job (they were sold to Parents and the blog was discontinued) and the consultant job in the same month, which means I lost 2/3 of my income and yeah. Now we’re broke. OH COME ON I’m not going to ask you for money.


I like you people, but I sure as hell don’t need to be beholden to the interwebs. Can you imagine? One day you’d be reading this and you’d be like “You stinky whore! I just gave you $20.00 via Paypal and now you’re at a fucking BLUEGRASS SHOW IN MONTEREY?”

And then I’d have nothing to say except “Yeah, sorry, dude. We only appear to be grown-ups.”

It’s a really strange feeling to devote your life to something because you feel deep in your gut something is there, something can happen, and it takes TIME to make it happen. I can’t run out and get a full-time job because I’m working on a book proposal (shhhhhhh).

But friends I’m gonna level with you: Sometimes this is totally not fun. It’s not glamorous or sexy or cool at all. It’s not even really interesting.

You know what this is?

A FUCKING DUCT-TAPED SIDE-VIEW MIRROR (that’s kind of falling off anyway)

No really, this is my car.


Hot, right?

Ah, I’m not complaining. Well actually yes of course I am.

But we’re eating (CLEARLY). We’re paying a mortgage (sometimes barely, and 10 minutes before it’s due) and thankfully have a small life. We’re learning to have a smaller one, but there are days when I wake up and all I want is the security of a bi-monthly paycheck, that softness in my gut that knows when the next check will come: the way clear, the path carved. I spend my time looking for part-time work or holing myself up, removed from my family – one more afternoon alone at a damn coffee house, wondering what the fuck and why and for what  – pushing my terror aside for a few minutes to write the proposal, submit more writing, build a platform to prove myself.

And it all hinges on unknowns anyway. It’s weird to work your ass off and devote your life to something that may or may not happen. It’s really quite stupid when I think about it.

If I were smart I’d get a full-time job, right? I’d do what it takes to buy more things for my kids and get them in better schools and pay for more lessons and sports. Right? I mean I’m a mother of three kids and I need to PUT MY FAMILY FIRST.

But I’m not smart, and I’m not stopping until I’ve at least tried.

My kids are just fine. Money never made for a happy childhood anyway, and you know what’s crazy? They’ve never once noticed the fucking duct-taped mirror.

I’m writing this so we can go through it together, and laugh one day, looking back, when this is just the storm before the glorious clearing. (Or I’m back at the trusty cubicle, enjoying the bi- monthly paychecks and general malaise, planning my next exit strategy, looking back with nostalgia on my days as a crazy poor aspiring writer.)

Either way, this whole thing is your fault. YOUR existence is the reason I feel all compelled to keep on writing. YOU and your damn encouragement and support and brilliant fucking comments that lead me to believe we’ve got something going here.

I’m really grateful for you. This really isn’t your fault, and we’ll just keep on keepin’ on, you and me.

Because really, at this point, is there any other option?

I know I’m lucky as hell. I know I’m living a dream. But everybody’s gotta whine sometimes.

There’s this Rumi poem that says “Let the beauty you love be what you do.”

This is the beauty I love.

So fuck it, I’m doing it.




  • Lulu James

    Yes! You are saying all the things in my heart right now. Your bitching and moaning and KEEPING THE FAITH speaks encouragement to me. To this post I say HELL YEAH. Fuck the man. Live the life you love, love the life you live.
    With Gratitude —

  • angela

    Some days I need to hear this, on a loop, in my head. But I hear in your words that this is going to work for you.

  • Jessica

    There is never enough money. I can’t afford to go to work full time because my little BSW can’t land me a job to cover childcare. Tomorrow I will go back to the part time preschool I have been working at for a few years and start getting my classroom ready. I am so over teaching 2 yr olds. My husband works hard and we have been incredibly blessed, but it’s always paycheck to paycheck.
    You’ll get published. Your book will be wildly successful. Take a deep breath and sigh. I’m so happy you are following your gut. Your blog is great and I needed to meet a friend like you at this point in my trip through the craziness.

  • Suzie

    I love your stories and if it makes you feel any better, my husbands mirror is held on with 2-part apoxy purchased at the dollar store… When it’s too hot or too cold it falls off lol but whatever, it’s just a mirror on a car

  • Jenna

    i have read, “i became a mother…” so many times and each time it brings me to tears. you are an amazing writer. and, don’t worry about monies. we’re all fucking broke.

  • S

    I have a 9-5 job (that I love) but all of my money goes to daycare. I don’t think there is a right decision here. You lose and gain something no matter what you do, but I think you make a difference in people’s lives with your writing. A lot more than you would in most 9-5 job. Keep on keepin’ on. I think you’ll be glad you did.

  • Lacey

    You are awesome and amazing and inspiring. <3

  • Shelley

    You’re living your dream, I applaud you for that. My job is like a golden handcuff, yes it’s reliable and safe, but damn I hate it and want to quit so bad to do what I love. You are so brave and awesome! Keep on keeping on…

  • Julia

    I had a duct tape mirror for a while too. My friend closed the door one time and it fell off. Lovely. Could be a convenient way to identify fellow poor writers. Remuneration is a word writers only know because we know a lot of words.

  • Lisa

    Cheers right back at ya. . . . You got this, Janelle. You can and will do it, I know this because you are not a quitter.

    And I’m sorry that my existence, and that of all the others out here, makes you keep writing. I was gonna say “Oh no never mind I’m not” but in some small very teeny tiny way I am. But not sorry enough to go away. Something tells me you can handle that part, too.

  • GG

    Thank god for that itch (yech), b/c I need you to keep writing!!!

  • Nicole

    Janelle, I only discovered your blog a couple of months ago when I was searching for soulemama and your post soule-crushing mama came up. It couldn’t have been a more more beautiful introduction. I read your post and EVERYTHING rang true. It was like finding a surprise gift – a connection to someone across the world I’ve never met. You are brave and true and smart and funny. It will work out for you. Ps Have you tried any Australian publishing companies or parenting magazines? There is nothing like your work here.

  • Jessica

    I’m so glad your doing it!

    This is the kind of stuff I like hearing about. Why don’t more people do what they love?

  • Stephanie

    Yes to all of it. But you know that already.

  • Ansley

    You have duct tape, I have no A/C…and I live in Alabama! But, one learns to live with things, you know? And then that moment hits when you see a friend who has just lost a child to a terminal illness or a family torn apart by sexual abuse or a man shuffling down the street in search of his next meal….and then I think of my wonderful husband, my soft bed, my meals in the freezer and the clothes on my (sticky and sweaty) back and I remember that through it all, I am grateful. All the stuff I get frustrated with WILL PASS (who knew our grandmothers were right?) and I get to go home to this beautiful family who stick with me no matter how sweaty I get. And besides, “winter is coming”….

    Keep on, my grammarly friend 🙂

  • Jojo

    Thank you! Keep writing! You inspire me. One day soon ill break out of my golden handcuff job. I hate it and need your inspiration to blaze a trail that I will soon follow. Thank you!

  • Jesi

    You always seem to know what’s rotting in my gut. I’m sitting here eating pickles and pounding my laptop in agreement. I don’t have the balls to drop the f-bombs, but you make it sound so fun. Keep at it. Your edginess and rawness is awesome.

  • Erica dee

    So I finally figured out something that I thought I could do for much of the rest of my life, and I followed my heart and uprooted my family and took us all on a wild leap off the edge, and now it’s turning out quite a lot differently than I thought it would. But I have still that fire of knowing that this is The Thing, that I would and have given up a whole lot of security, community, grandparent connection, left my natural born habitat for…and I’m truly grateful for the reminder that these kinds of knowings are just going to continue like a tiny LED in the middle of a rainy night, that if I kept on keeping on where I was I couldn’t stand knowing that at last I was not living up to my potential. That I do have something to offer and if I don’t honor it I’ll die a slow soul death of unfulfilled dreams and bad role modeling. So thank you so much for the shine, it’s those little clues along the way which validate this upheaval and unknowing and plain old hope. And please, for the love of all things good, go on a speaking tour.

  • freya

    Never call yourself an ‘aspiring’ anything. Very rich arseholes never do that.

  • megan

    Keep on rockin in the free world. <3

  • Kateri Von Steal

    🙂 This place makes me feel okay to be the kind of mother I am.

  • Josey

    Posts like this remind me of how much I need to frickin START following my dreams. BOO on you for reminding me of how much I’ve settled. 🙂 Thanks for being my inspiration today.

  • Kate

    The bit where you pointed out: “And it all hinges on unknowns anyway. It’s weird to work your ass off and devote your life to something that may or may not happen. It’s really quite stupid when I think about it.” made me sigh loudly. Even after going all the way through my Phd school, there are still so many unknowns. Can I get another postdoc? Will there be a faculty position? Will I get funding? Will I end up fired and walking home disgraced 10 years from now after pouring my heart into trying to get tenure and not succeeding? Is it even worth it? Can’t I just stay home with my kiddo and enjoy life and let the husband do all the earning?

    There are uncertainties in every part of life. Even with the cubical you can still find yourself downsized or outsourced. And the grass is always greener…

  • Sara

    Ooooh I so needed to read that post!!! I’m actually rethinking my options after almost 9 years in the same company (two positions, but still)!!!! 9 years!!! I still can’t believe it! I feel like I wasted so many years that I could’ve used to build something for myself… But hey, better late than completely sorry! And you know what keeps on pushing me to change jobs? The thought that my daughter might have to live with a mommy that isn’t satisfied with her life. I’m trying to learn from my own mommy’s mistake… And this post gives me so much (much needed) encouragement! THANK YOU!

    I often think that if I had a little motivator like you in my day-to-day life, I’d be so much further along! So pleeeeease continue to write! I beg of you! BTW, do you have a Kickstarter project I could participate to for your book publication??? I’d love to do that! I’d buy a copy for me and every one of my friends, for sure! I’m always sending your posts here and there anyways… Keep up the good work! You’ve got something special here, that I haven’t seen anywhere else! 🙂

  • Miya Goodrich

    I recently started reading your blog and love it! Broke or not, you have an amazing voice and you should always keep at it. I’ve been writing (TV) for many years with no pay, hoping to sell each project I write. I do it because I love it. Or I’m just lazy and don’t want to find something else to do. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading! Cheers!

  • Meredith

    I never comment on blogs because ain’t no one got time for that…but I just had to because I’m basically convinced you are my blogging lady crush. You make me feel normal in this world of Pinterest perfect children activities and mother’s who post photos on Facebook of their children pooping in the potty for the first time. I live for these blogs especially when I have a 7-month-old screaming in my ear. Just wanted to say thank you.

  • Pam @ Whatevs...

    Thanks for reminding me to stop commenting on blogs and start doing the shit I’m scared of.

  • Rebecca Slaughter

    Ahh…your blog is so refreshing after these other homeschooling ones. Plus homeschooling facebookers. I come to your blog because it’s like getting into a hot tub on a freezing night. Please blog more. And put more pictures out there. And please bitch about homeschooling. It makes me feel better.

  • Marta

    I recently decided to take a career leap into the unknown as well. And as my last day at the office job approached, I came across a video from these guys (they are subtitled after the third, I think) –
    It’s now totally on my list of “Things to do when everything sucks”.

    I believe in you so very much, and I’m so thrilled to hear the news!

  • Sal

    um, my mirror looks EXACTLY like yours…I think you’ll understand how happy that makes me. I just found your blog today and I love your writing.

  • Heather Fattah

    Somewhere between posts and shares and likes on the inter-webs your voice will reach the person or company that changes the world for you. Your voice reached me when I needed it most so I know it will unfold for you. All that you are seeking is also seeking you. Passion requires faith. Your writing is all I read when I am pumping/nursing, rocking, bouncing my latest glorious catastrophe. With much love from Ohio. -HLF