Who is Shana Ronayne?
Welcome! I’m Shana Ronayne, an author, poet, educator, nutritional counselor and wellness coach. I’ve created and published a popular magazine for home educators, written countless articles on living a more mindful, compassionate life, and spread the ideals of simple living far and wide. After experiencing autoimmune-induced brain fog, I also help writers overcome writer’s block and cognitive issues with inspiration, encouragement and reassurance. I live in an old Vermont farmhouse with my husband and son and can usually be found writing with a cat on my lap and dogs at my feet, or else I’m out on the porch typing away, listening to the wind chime and watching the chipmunks and birds at the feeders. I…
- can spend hours wandering the aisles of unfamiliar farm stands and grocery stores
- love curling up next to Lilian, our wood stove
- am a sucker for homemade guacamole
- delight in creating quirky characters I rarely use
- hold long conversations with houseflies
- write on the comfiest old antique sofa you’ve ever seen
- can listen to the same song over and over for days
Tell me more….
Really? Well, sure. Why not?
When I was nine years old, I tumbled into the living room early Christmas morning to find a typewriter wrapped with snowflakes and reindeer waiting for me. I immediately began typing up simple stories about lonely talking animals searching for friends or throwing forest birthday parties for each other. It wasn’t long before I discovered poems, though – the beginning of a tempestuous love affair. I filled spiral notebooks, one after another, with words of longing, joy, fear, confusion, beauty, sadness. I’d bring them home and type them out, then yank out the paper and marvel at what I’d done. Of course, an hour later, constant editor that I was, I’d realize that what I held in my hand was all wrong, and I’d start over. Soon, I was sitting in college poetry workshops, my backpack brimming with half-finished poems and books by Eliot, Dickinson, Williams, Basho, Glück, Sexton…. I was a writer – and I felt like a writer. Over the years, my poetry evolved, and eventually I decided to dip my toes into the waters of nonfiction.
When multiple sclerosis first came into my life, I was publishing and editing a magazine for home educators. I had thousands of subscribers from across the country, and I was poised for thousands more. I was on the precipice of true success as I watched the bloom of my years of work unfold before me, an exciting (and somewhat frightening) prospect. That was when my world came crashing down.
If I wanted to be well, I knew that, in addition to changing my less-than-stellar diet (boy, did I love cheese), I also had to give up the stress and long hours of creating and sending out a magazine solo (yes, it was just me). So, I did. I found a low-stress 9-5 job and settled in. At the same time, though, I found myself sitting down to put pen to paper less and less often. It was harder, now, and because of that, it was less joyous, less cathartic, less fulfilling. Before, I needed to write. There were words trapped inside me, and I had to let them out or I might burst. Writing was my way of making sense of the world around me. But now, it seemed easier to, for the most part, forget that piece of myself, to stop trying to make sense of the world and focus on other things. Walking comes to mind. And not peeing in my pants.
The first (doomed) attempt
The urge to write, though less urgent, was still smoldering inside me, sparking and catching fire with surprising regularity, so I began working on a book about living simply in a complicated world. I carried note cards with me wherever I went, and I wrote down anything that struck me as… well, noteworthy. Eventually, I’d filled a large box with scribbled cards that, if I let them, seemed to sort themselves into several categories. In time, those categories would become chapters.
In the evenings, I sat on the floor arranging and rearranging cards until I had created a somewhat coherent flow. Then came the outlines, one for each chapter, finally culminating in a monster outline over 100 pages long (really). It should have been an easy task to take that expansive and detailed outline and turn it into a book (or three), but it wasn’t. Notes were one thing, but crafting coherent sentences seemed somehow beyond my ability. I couldn’t focus long enough to make it to the end of a thought. I couldn’t find the right words. Certain they were out there, I reached again and again but couldn’t grasp them despite my crushing desire. Night after night, I stared at the computer screen through tears. I had stopped feeling like a writer.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, after a few months, I gave up. I’m no longer a writer, I told myself. Maybe I’ll find another passion. But I didn’t, and the smoldering urge to write kept turning into what felt like a raging inferno. So, I finally decided I had no choice; I’d have to work around my illness. But how?
Through excruciating trial and error, I discovered that I was able to hold a train of thought better in the morning hours before I ate breakfast and that, as long as I was somewhat clear-headed, I could employ little tricks to keep myself focused and on track. I began a love affair with my thesaurus. I learned patience. And I allowed myself to be less than perfect.
My book Writing through the Fog grew out of my own struggles with writing through brain fog. One morning, during a particularly difficult writing session, I explained to my son some of the unusual methods I was using to get words onto the page. He said, “You should really write a book about it, Mom. I’ll bet others have the same problem.”
So, here we are. Writing through the Fog, as short as it is, took what felt like ages to create. In fact, as I write this, there’s still so much left to do. Self-publishing can be a monumental task for someone who struggles with perfectionism. Surprisingly, though, instead of feeling overwhelmed, I feel exhilarated. I wake each morning brimming with ideas. Some days are easier than others, and I spend more time than I’d like trying to remember the flash of inspiration I had just a moment before, but all in all, I feel like a writer again. Because I’m writing.
Have fun exploring my site and my writing! If you want to get in touch with me, just float on over to the Connect page and send me a note. I love hearing from readers.