Motherhood & Words

I’m Western Wisconsin for my annual Motherhood & Words retreat at Faith’s Lodge.

This is generally a hectic time of year for me and this year is no exception. In the days leading up to the retreat, I was on deadline with a big federal grant at work, prepping for the retreat in the evening, and stealing moments as I made dinner to go through the copyedits for Ready for Air, which are due back to my publisher on Monday. On Tuesday I had a moment of panic, thinking that I wouldn’t get it all done. But somehow I did, as I always do.

On Thursday, after I had packed up the car with clothes and computer and groceries and skis, and headed out to pick up two of the participants who had flown in from out of town for the retreat, I already could feel the stress begin to drain away. Even though I am on the whole weekend, and it’s not really a retreat for me, it’s still one of my favorite weekends of the year. There is nothing like being surrounded by women digging deep, writing what they previously hadn’t been able to get down on the page, working their way toward some kind of truth.

This year there are five new participants and five returning, and they are all amazing. Their words— raw, powerful, heartbreaking, hopeful—spill from their mouths, filling the room, seeping into my heart. As their teacher, I can’t help swell with pride, amazed by their bravery, their vulnerability, their tremendous skill.

This afternoon, after my last individual conference, I will be spent, but alive, and I’ll clip on my cross-country skis and head out into the deep, fresh snow to ski loops on the trails until I am breathing deeply. Then I will return again to the lodge, ready for more of their words (and for some delicious food and wine).

What a gift to call this my work.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Sue LeBreton on February 23, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Oh it sounds divine. I love the addition of cross country skiing to your day. It sounds like an ideal way to balance and refill your well.

    • Kate Hopper on February 24, 2013 at 8:03 am

      It IS, Sue! And when we’re at the Madeline Island retreat it might be biking or canoeing instead! Can’t wait to spend time with you there!

  2. Sara on February 23, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Every year when you write about this I want to come.

    • Kate Hopper on February 24, 2013 at 8:03 am

      I would LOVE for you to come some year, Sara. It would be perfect for you!!

  3. Autumn on February 23, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    It sounds perfect, Kate! I do wish I was joining you and the group right now. Perhaps my chance will come next year? I can’t wait to hear more about these women and their words.

  4. Kate Hopper on February 24, 2013 at 8:04 am

    I would love for you to be here next year, Autumn! It’s such an incredible place! Always the last weekend in February.

  5. Erin on February 24, 2013 at 11:33 am

    As one of the participants, I can say the gift is ours. You are an incredible teacher and it is with your support and encouragement that these words find their way onto paper. Thanks for another fantastic weekend! You are the teacher!

    • Kate on February 25, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      Oh thank you, Erin! You are amazing and brave, and I can’t wait until I can pull your book from the shelf at a local bookstore. Playdates soon!

  6. Kate Edenborg on February 24, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    While I’m unable to attend this weekend (obviously : ) and this summer — I think about you and the fellow mother writers often. I’m inching in my own writing here and there : )

    • Kate on February 25, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      Oh Kate, we missed you! And I know you’ll carve out the time you need. Transitions are so hard.

  7. Janine Kovac on February 25, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Oh, it was so wonderful, Kate! Thank you for existing! You were our gift. 🙂

    And now–back to working out my outline on Scrivener.

    • Kate on February 25, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      Oh Janine, you’re a rock star. And even when you don’t want to do what I tell you, the result is phenomenal. Curse me as much as you’d like. I can take it.