As most writers will tell you, I always knew, deep down, that I was supposed to be a writer – I just forgot sometimes. After studying the wrong thing in college (interior design, assuming a practical application of the arts would suit me), I never forgot again.

I continued to practice and enjoy aspects of design, but when it came to work, my heart was in writing. I “couldn’t help” writing a novel in my spare time. I edited it through nine drafts, and began to send it out to agents. When my husband Dennis and I had our daughter Fiona in 2008, and then our son Jack in 2011, I quit working outside of the home, with the hope of starting a writing career, somehow, in between nursing and cleaning and all-consuming parenthood.


“Mommy, why must you write when you have two adorable basket children sitting right here in front of you?!?”

While I loved my family more than anything, I felt creatively unfulfilled – which of course affected my well-being, and my family’s happiness, too. When it occurred to me that I might as well start blogging in 2012, I was overcome with relieved joy. I began to notice the interesting stories in all of the mundane tasks that made up most of my days, and found that writing for me was like digging out the joy underneath the ordinary.


2013 with baby Jack

The Joy Underneath began as a “mommy blog,” but as the kids get older, it seems disrespectful to write too much about their lives. Almost without realizing it over the years, I’ve shifted toward writing more on culture, politics, mental health, the arts, personal growth, writing struggles and inspirations – whatever is currently bugging me, or fascinating me. Whatever I write about, this small platform has been invaluable to me. There is something about putting your writing out into the world, and letting it go where it may. (Even if you have less than a thousand readers. I try not to care about the numbers too much.)


I still send out my first novel to agents, and am working on a second novel. Any other writing goes here. It’s hard to stay focused, encouraged, and disciplined, as a writer who makes no money, and as a stay-at-home mom who handles all the usual mom jobs that keep household and family chugging along. I know there are thousands of us unpublished writers, trying to defend the bits of time we devote to our work, trying to explain why it matters even if it doesn’t make money, and trying to justify what may seem like a selfish endeavor. When I begin to feel defensive, I remember that if my work influences one life for the better, including my own, it is worthy of my time. I don’t neglect my other obligations and loves in the name of writing, either. Sometimes, I wonder if I should give up on the idea of ever getting published. Maybe. My life is so rich in other ways. It seems silly to get hung up on this one kind of validation.


Validation would be wonderful, if it comes. Regardless, writing is with me for life: I am reassured by the truth that I can’t give it up. I’ve tried, in moments of frustration or despair. It’s impossible.

This inability to quit, this true love of reading and writing, is a beautiful affliction, a gift.

12 thoughts on “About

  1. Great stuff so far! Congrats! My blog is one month old tomorrow – very excited. : -)
    You should check out my friend Tanya – her blog is http://thelettuceedge.wordpress.com/ She writes about momhood and also Jewish culture & food & organic farming.

  2. hannahg20 says:


    This is brilliant! Your mom shared the link with me, and I’m loving it already. I go to an office 4 days a week and have only one little one, but so much of what you have written rings true for me. I was just talking with a friend the other day about how to be spiritual person while being a mom. She pointed out that the act of giving up of yourself over and over again is bigger than any spiritual practice. So true!

    Thank you for sharing and keep writing!

    Hannah Guedenet

    p.s. Melanie–I added your friend’s blog to my list too…good stuff!

    • Julia says:

      Thank you SO much! I am really encouraged by your words, and glad that you were able to connect with what I’ve written so far. Actually, I knew from the moment you starting speaking in church about The Wire that we could be friends! Hope to see you soon.

  3. Lara says:

    Um, yeah. I think you took the words right out of my mouth. I SO get this, even the writing fiction part. And the onesie your son is wearing in that photo? We used to have the same one. The more I learn about you the more I think we were made to be blog brothers. (Get it? Like blood brothers but blog brothers.) Am I being stalkerish again?

  4. I have just started reading your blog today – very dry and witty – a likeminded approach to this writing and parenting – brilliant !

  5. The Waiting says:

    Love love love this About page, and it just so happens that I completely agree with you. It is so hard to find that balance between our all-encompassing motherhood and everything we are outside of it, but like you, I’m trying to find it through blogging.

    • Julia says:

      Thanks! I got a glimpse of your blog when it was recommended to me through WordPress, and I instantly knew you’d be a kindred blogging spirit, too!

  6. Sharlene ratcliff says:

    Hi, hoping you can help me for Halloween. My twins ( turning 3 in feb) are obsessed with Madeline. Where do you get your costume?!! I’m desperate to surprise then with Madeline and pepino costumes this year 🙂


    • Julia says:

      We actually ordered it online (I think through Amazon) several years ago, but it is not available through amazon anymore. My best advice would be to keep looking online – I’ve never seen Madeline costumes sold in stores. I’m not sure if there are any Pepito costumes at all, either. We still love Madeline around here so I understand the obsession! I found a lot of good deals on toys on Ebay, too. Good luck!

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