Behind the Stories: Adrian Slonaker

Is there any such thing as a truly happy family? Adrian's essay about choosing to be child-free examines his feelings towards having children and his relationship with his own parents. We at Keeping It Under Wraps are delighted to welcome Adrian back for the second in our anthology series: his candid and honest views pull back the curtain, exposing the truth behind the typical narratives around family relationships that many of us keep to ourselves.





How much of your life do you give to writing?


'Writing' is such a delightfully vague and flexible term. Jotting down a reminder on a Post-It note to pick up some batteries, oat milk and eyeliner could technically be considered 'writing'. As a language professional, I do a lot of writing and editing in the sense that I am creating or modifying text. As for = 'personal writing' (essays, poetry, prose, creative non-fiction, etc.), it really depends. I've been interested in this sort of writing since I was a small child, but it comes and goes in my adult life. Sometimes I'll feel that I have a lot to express so do a lot of writing in a short period of time. At other times, I'm either busier with other obligations or don't feel such a strong need to express myself in writing, so I can go weeks or even months without any significant output. I'm not one of those disciplined writers who set aside a certain block of time each day or set a per word/per-day target. I just go with the flow.


What made you write this piece in particular?


I'd collaborated with Tracy, Alnaaze and Louise on the first KIUW anthology (the 'Sex' book) and really enjoyed that experience, so I was intrigued when I received their call for submissions for the new anthology. I felt a need to write the piece for two reasons. First, I have no desire to have children. Zero. I don't even particularly like being around or hearing about children. This is a very unpopular opinion given society's overwhelming push for people not only to procreate but also to consider kids as being absolutely adorable.


Second, my own relationship with my family - and my parents in particular – has been rocky for much of my life. Gradually it has become, for the most part, farcically hollow, mechanical and unfulfilling – to the point that it feels almost painful sometimes to communicate with my parents because it is a shallow shell of what a functional, deep understanding between parents and kids should ideally be. Often I've just wanted to put this relationship out of its misery and walk away and have even tried to find information online about how people actually dump their parents (I know I could just vanish and end contact, but, for example, what happens when they die or if they should become incapacitated? Do I need to sign something or take any other action as their kid?). In the vast stretches of the internet, when you can find information about practically any topic, there's a surprising lack of information about this (i.e. there's no 'Family Estrangement for Dummies') unless someone is trying to escape a physically or sexually abusive parent. Fortunately, this has never been my situation. Garden-variety 'toxic' isn't included in this category, and society seems to recommend that you either try to repair the problems (not feasible for me) or just grin and bear it because 'family is precious and irreplaceable'. In other words, families are sacred cows that few are willing to slaughter. This piece has given me the opportunity to voice my own take on all this, look for connections and to articulate my frustrations, letting a lot of stuff off my chest and even making progress towards working out some tricky feelings.


How does this piece fit with your wider writing? Do you write in other genres?


I write poetry and prose and have dabbled in essays and creative non-fiction. My messy family situation has inspired and influenced some of my creative work, so this essay might be viewed as a companion piece or even an explanatory note to go along with those other pieces.


How can readers further support your writing?


Just by reading it if they want to read it! (but if they don't want to read it, no hard feelings!)