'HERA Women' is our journal series dedicated to celebrating women who are living life in their HERA jeans. Created to uplift, inspire and celebrate the lives and achievements of all women in their wonderful variety.
Hailing from the South Island of New Zealand, our HERA Woman feature this month is Michaela Tempany. She is a writer and musician who we’ve been joyed to get to know more. Her and her husband set out to capture Michaela in her HERA jeans and the images speak for themselves - you can just see her fun, loving energy radiate.
Coming from a large family, Michaela being a twin herself, with an older brother and three younger sisters, she tells us that creativity encouraged from a young age…
“my dad is a guitarist and my mum is a pianist. My siblings are artists, fashion designers, chefs, entrepreneurs and business-women. My professional life is varied: I have taught English in Chile, irrigated farms in Israel and nannied in London. I graduated high school in Mexico, have worked in hospitality across Australia, and have been a music teacher in Wellington. I am a freelance copywriter, musician, and creative writer. I have had work published in a variety of different journals, and in 2021 I completed my Master of Arts in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters. My current creative project is a novel!
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I remember wanting to be a writer as young as the age of five! I have a vivid memory of writing my very first ‘book’ in a big green notebook - it was about a little girl in an orphanage and I spent ages trying to describe a door! I’m not sure what initially inspired my dream of becoming a writer. I just love to read more than anything else and I believe that literature can be a powerful vehicle for change.
Whilst becoming a writer is the very first thing I wanted to ‘be’, there are so many other things I want to achieve with my life. I’m a part-time muso and I spend a lot of time playing the piano and guitar. I value creativity in whatever form and I love supporting local artists. Mainly, I just love spending time with my husband and my family. I love exploring new places and ideas, and I genuinely want to do things that help others.
What have you most recently been working on?
For my Master’s thesis I worked on the first draft of a manuscript. My novel interrogates themes of grief, motherhood, sisterhood, and the bodies that we inhabit. It follows several generations of women from my hometown and slips in and out of time. I was inspired to write about these themes because of my own experiences with fertility and grief, and my all-consuming battle of bodily acceptance. Growing up in a family of five girls, I find myself drawn to our experiences of sisterhood and bodies, especially now as we become adults and mothers. Admittedly, the first draft of my novel came out quite dark! In this second draft I hope to weave in some lightness and joy into the story.
What helps you to get into your creative frame of mind? Do you have any rituals, habits, places you need to go in order to be inspired?
I found writing the first draft of my novel very challenging! It was quite hard to sit down at my computer and feel inspired with all the pressure I had placed on myself. As a musician, writing is much easier. Balancing music and lyrics has always been fun and stress-relieving, and songs are much shorter than novels! The scope of a novel was very difficult for me. One of the things I do to help ease me into writing is the New York Times daily crossword puzzle. It’s been a lifesaver and always makes me feel smart haha!
What else would you call yourself other than writer?
A musician, a sister, an aunty, a wife, a lover-of-bread, and a plant enthusiast.
What were some of your highlights of 2021? And what was one of your biggest challenges?
My biggest challenge and highlight was my Master's thesis (the first draft of my novel). I think this Master’s programme was a big deal for me because writing a novel is my BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). During the course I learnt that I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I’m a very slow writer. This was a very stressful combo in a year-long programme where a full manuscript was needed to pass. Now that it’s over, I can’t believe I did it — I have the bones of a good story! And I tell myself that this is my potter’s clay: I have the mush, now I can begin to shape it. It’s amazing to see how small steps really do contribute to an overall goal. A highlight for me is that I’ve learnt that you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, even if it’s hard, and good things will come.
What are some of your plans or goals for 2022?
Earn money, eat food, give my nieces/nephews lots of cuddles, learn some mindfulness/be slightly less neurotic, maybe write the second draft of my novel?
Dreams for your future?
I want to learn how to do a good handstand.
Michaela wears our very first style Freya. You can shop Freya now!
You can find some of Michaela's written work here:
Mayhem Literary Journal - For “Girls”