Motherhood & Words

In the last week, we have made trips to the ER, the doctor’s office, and the Minute Clinic. Zoë was hit with croup and had trouble breathing last week (hence the ER visit). She was up, feverish and coughing, for nights on end. Then this weekend, while D was out of town, Stella developed a fever, as well. A doctor’s visit on Monday confirmed nothing, but she was still sick yesterday, so my mom (babysitter/grandma extraordinaire) took her to the Minute Clinic, and she has strep.

The hard part of all of this is that I can’t stay home and cuddle and take care of them all day. This is the first time that I’ve had to head out the door to work and leave my sick girls in someone else’s (albeit very capable) hands. But I miss them, and they miss me. Yesterday, Stella said to Grandma, “I just want to be with my mom.”

Go ahead and twist the knife.

Even without sick kids, I know that the current pace of my life is not sustainable. I’m mother and wife on top of working full time and teaching and editing and preparing for a book launch. (O, copyedits, I will get to you soon. I promise!) And then there is the constant pull back to the page, to writing. Most of the time these days I don’t even think about my own writing, but I feel its absence in my life. I feel flat.

I love when I am in the middle of a writing project and I suddenly wake in the middle of the night with an idea. I love the way the rhythm of my gate on a long, slow run opens my mind to a new possibility in a scene or with a character. I love the way the writing continues to happen in my head throughout the day, even when I’m unaware of the work that’s being done. But in order for that kind of magic to happen, I actually need to be writing and writing regularly.

I’ve had an idea for a novel bouncing around in my head since the end of summer, and last week I realized that if I didn’t start actually writing it, I’d lose my passion for the project. Or it would grow stale. Or fizzle out.

So on Friday, I had an hour between work and a reading I was planning to attend. I went to a coffee shop and I pulled out paper and pen and began to write.

I always tell my students that they can accomplish a ton of writing in an hour or two a week. “Just set that time aside.” Well, it’s time I started to take my own advice. Because I’m a different person when I write—I’m filled with a sense of possibility.

I only wrote for 45 minutes on Friday, and the paper is scribbled mess, but it’s a start, and it’s exactly what I needed.

I don’t know when the next hour will appear, but somehow, I know it will.

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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. jenn on November 16, 2011 at 10:12 am

    your poor girls, and poor you! I hope all are on the mend. And I feel your pain when it comes to writing, it just keeps getting bumped. I need to schedule that time so badly. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Kate on November 16, 2011 at 10:25 am

      The girls are doing much better, though both are with my mom again today!

      And you’re right–we all need the reminder!

  2. Andrea on November 16, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Ugh, work-life “balance” is such a myth. Something’s always off-kilter. Sounds like an especially awful week, but good for you for squeezing out a couple tablespoons of lemonade! Hang in there–can’t wait to read your novel.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

    • Kate on November 17, 2011 at 5:07 am

      Dear Andrea, the balance is s myth for me right now, that’s for sure. So don’t hold your breath for the novel. It’s going to be years in the writing!

  3. Marilyn Bousquin on November 16, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Hi, Kate! You amaze and inspire me. Seriously. I love the way you love writing and life, and the way you write and live.

    xo, M

    • Kate on November 17, 2011 at 5:04 am

      Oh Marilyn, thank you. I feel more than bedraggled these days, so I appreciate your vote of confidence!!

  4. sara on November 18, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Kate, I hope the girls are better soon!

    I also wanted to let you know that you totally inspired me (yet again)–I had an hour between an appointment and picking up the kiddo yesterday and after reading this post, I spent it at a coffee shop writing instead of running errands. Nothing earth-shattering, but hopefully the start of a new habit. So, thanks!

    • Kate on November 21, 2011 at 2:47 pm

      Yay, Sara! I’m so glad you sat down and wrote. I can’t wait to read more of your writing soon!

  5. cath c on November 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    i hope everyone feels better soon!

    you sound like you’re starting, or restarting, the approach i generally try to keep up: at least an hour or two or one day of a couple of hours per week is about the most I can manage, but it keeps me alive…

    • Kate on November 21, 2011 at 2:47 pm

      “It’s keeps my alive.” I love that, Cath. That’s exactly how it feels, doesn’t it?

  6. Sarah on November 21, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    So glad you found an hour for writing! Wishing you all peace and time to just be.

    • Kate on November 23, 2011 at 8:26 am

      Thank you, Sarah! Likewise for you!

  7. Kristen Spina on November 22, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    I’m so glad to hear about the start of something new… And yes, I am often surprised by how great I feel after even a short time putting words on the page. I wish you many more inspired hours.

    Hope the girls are feeling better, too.

    • Kate on November 23, 2011 at 8:26 am

      Thank you, Kristen! I wish the same for you!!