This article refers to suicide.
A map of tattoos depicts the life and career Emily Writes (mother, activist, feminist and author), who has returned with another book about parenthood’s tricky work, says Bess Manson.
‘Twinkle the dog’ is indelibly inked on Emily Writes’ left arm.
Writes says that the real deal is actually a large, doe-eyed rescue dog with rainbow collar. However, it is not clear who saved who.
The writer has much to share about it cruelty of racing these dogs And what happens to them once the competition ends. That’s the activist in her and not just the go-out-and-protest kind, though she’s done a lot of that.
With her funny, bittersweet, and honest words, Writes has captured the difficulties parents experience in raising future citizens of this country. She describes it as rewarding, fantastic and amazing, and also very difficult.
Writers believes that she has been positively radicalized.
“Things like the Louise Nicholas case I was really radicalized. My school was surrounded by abortion-protesters, which radicalized me. Getting my period and not knowing what to do because I hadn’t been given any sex education really radicalised me,’’ she says.
“That rage at the things wrong with the world is on this really close continuum of love for other people and love for what the world could be. I think love and rage are pretty closely tied to each other.”
The word ‘mightier’ is inked on Writes’ right wrist to remind herself that there’s power in that pen she wields.
“I have the power and I need to be careful with it,” she says.
For seven years Writes has been writing about being a mother – in her case to Eddie, 9, and Ronnie, 7.
blog About trying to get her children to sleep started a career that has taken her from a bedroom writer to author of three books.
Writes got flooded with emails and letters from parents when a 2015 blog post became viral. They acknowledged how difficult it was being a parent as well as how it felt to get help.
“There’s no other experience that we do that’s like this in the way that people demand perfection. They demand you enjoy it while demanding you get it right while at the same time saying it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do.
“It hit this sweet spot for me as a feminist, but also as an activist. I hate seeing people struggling. My three-week old baby was also mys, so I was mad.
“I thought I’d keep writing as long as people kept reading.”
The first book she wrote was her debut. Rants In The DarkThis play, which became a play in its own right, focused on the lives of sleep-deprived parents who raise young children.
He followed her up Is It Bedtime Yet?A collection of essays by Writes and her friends on mums who need a friend when they are lost.
Her latest, Needs Adult Supervision, is another collection of essays, thoughts and vignettes on parenthood, from lockdown Zoom calls with the teacher to the ‘humble’ online mum brag.
‘All we have is each other’ is an adage Writes, 38, live by and as such it is tattooed on her right arm.
Writes, who lives on Wellington’s south coast, describes her readers as “the kindest, gentlest and most generous audience”.
However, she does have a group of hateful people, who are loud and nasty.
“After Rants in the Dark came out in 2017, every online piece I was doing was getting around 500,000 views. It was a constant flow of feedback. It was so noisy,’’ she says.
“Every day I would wake up and look at my notifications, and there would be messages like, ‘You’re a f…ing w….’ ‘You fat bitch.’ ‘You stupid c….’ Just one after the other.”
According to her, it was worse when she used Twitter.
“I remember saying something very chill about loving trans kids, you know, pretty standard ‘we love all children’, and the transphobic people just went so hard for me.
Writes breaks down as she describes the hate unleashed on her and her whānau.
“I just couldn’t cope. I felt like I had brought all this hate into my house, like I’ve just opened the door and said, ‘come on in’. Every platform I went on was just pure hatred,” she says.
“I started to believe every single thing that was said about me. I thought, ‘yeah, I’m a piece of shit’. I started to get jumpy because people would say, ‘I know where she walks her dog’, ‘I know where her kids go to school’.
“One day I was hearing the words before I even read them.
“I was sitting there working, and I thought, you should kill yourself, because that was what they were saying to me, and then I stood up, walked out of the office and I tried to kill myself.”
Writing helped. She was able to get better. After a while, she switched off Twitter. She’s never been back on Twitter.
She didn’t stop writing, though.
“After that I thought; so this is how they shut you up. That is what they do to get you stopped talking.
“In a way this latest book is saying, ‘yeah, you couldn’t shut me up. Sorry’.”
The words ‘Insulin needles’ inked onto her right arm are a nod to her son’s diabetic condition.
Writing partner is their youngest son. To give insulin, her husband stays with the eldest son.
A full night’s sleep has evaded them for nearly a decade, and so Writes has made peace with the night, using those dark hours to write.
Like Rants In the Dark, this book was written on her smartphone in the early hours. She got the idea while recovering from a hysterectomy.
“I started to think a hysterectomy was something older women did, something our mothers did, and I couldn’t get this idea out of my head about what it means to be an adult…. If you understand your sexuality and what you need from your relationships, then you can be an adult.
Writes’ belly hosts a tattoo of a dancing coven of witches. They represent Writes’ love for women and Her community and are about reclaiming part of her body.
“That tattoo has been amazing because I have felt really self-conscious about gaining weight and being a bigger size, but ever since I got it I have been wearing crop tops because I love it so much.”
Tattooed on Writes’ right arm is a brick from the Stonewall riots, her Recognizement of the queer rights movement
Writings who are bisexual grew-up going to churches that were only for straight people, hell or heaven.
“Everything was a very strong binary. Bisexual was not something I had ever heard of growing up.
“In my last few years of high school when I kissed girls, slept with girls, I always viewed it as practice for boys for when I became a wife.”
People were curious to know if her and her husband had been divorcing when she came out.
She says that there was a belief queer people were only queer, or queer gay men are gay only if they have sex. “Like you have to perform your sexuality if you are not straight, but straight people never have to do that.”
She is married and happy. Although she could easily have been with another gender, her love for a cis-man led to her falling in love.
“Your person is your person.”
Capybara holding a backpack shows her left upper arm. It is a reminder that life should not be taken too seriously.
“It’s very easy as a writer, when you get smoke blown up your arse a lot of the time, to take yourself too seriously. You have to remember you’re just an idiot with a pen.”
A little higher up her left arm is a tattoo depicting the last page of Where The Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak’s book about a boy called Max who sails away for a year after being sent to bed without dinner for misbehaving.
On the last page is a picture of a bowl of soup in Max’s room with the words “…and it was still hot”.
“It reminded me of the role of a parent to allow their child to have feelings and be angry and sad and have space to have all those feelings, and it’s my job as a parent to have that safe space for them to come home to,” Writes says.
Max. is the one who loves someone most.