Motherhood & Words

This morning the doorbell rang at ten o’clock. A FedEx driver handed me a thin package. When I turned it over I saw that it was from University of Minnesota Press, my publisher. I tore it open and there it was—my book. The cover is so smooth, matte finish, just as I’d hoped. It’s paperback, but it has inside flaps, like a hardcover. It’s gorgeous.

I squealed, then I promptly burst into tears. And let me be clear: I did not gracefully shed a couple of tears. I wept. I sobbed. I wondered what the hell was happening. I was completely flabbergasted, but I couldn’t stop crying.

This was very different than last year, when I received my box of copies of Use Your Words from Viva Editions. That day, I sliced open the box, grabbed a copy of my book and jumped up and down, screaming. I screamed so much, in fact, that Stella actually told me to get a hold of myself. “Geez, Mom.”

But this book is different. I started work on it nine and a half years ago. I wrote it, revised it, had it rejected, wrote it again, revised it again, had it rejected some more. Through all of that I didn’t give up believing in the book. Well, okay some days I guess I did, but most of the time I just kept at it. When I’d get a rejection, I’d usually lace up my running shoes and head to the river road. (And then drink some wine.) After a particularly nasty agent rejection—The book would be so much better if you were more like Anne Lamott—I ran the fastest seven miles I’d ever run. I was crying and laughing and swearing the whole way, and I’m sure I looked insane, but when I got home I felt better.

Rejection is never easy, but it got easier. After a while, if an agent or editor didn’t love the book, I reasoned that didn’t want them anyway. So I kept writing, kept revising, made the book the best book I could write.

But this is the thing. All of that submitting and writing and rewriting is exhausting. All of that constantly putting yourself out there, hoping hoping, is exhausting. And so today, when I held that book in my hands—that book that might as well contain a piece of each of my organs—well, all of that other stuff came rushing out, too. All of those years of trying not to be discouraged, of not giving up, all that energy I expended, all the tears I shed. It all whooshed right out of me, and I sobbed and sobbed, grateful and exhausted. And then I called Donny and sobbed through an explanation of why I was sobbing, and he started laughing, and I felt so grateful for him, for putting up with me all these years, for always believing the book would find the right home, which it has. Which it really has.

But still, I couldn’t stop crying. I realized I wasn’t going to get anything done in that state, so I laced up my running shoes, grabbed my iPod, and headed toward the river. I cried some more and let all those other post-rejection runs seep into this one. And then I ran past them until it was just me now, me with this book that I’ve worked so f*%#ing hard on. It started to rain, and I shivered as I ran over the Mississippi River, picking up my pace. Then I shook out my arms, let out a couple of boisterous whoops, and pumped my fist into the air.

And that’s why you never give up.

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Kate

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.

37 Comments

  1. Melissa Camara Wilkins on September 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    That is a very, vey good reason to never give up. Congratulations! I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.



    • Kate on September 11, 2013 at 9:04 am

      Oh Melissa, thank you!



  2. Gillian Marchenko on September 10, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Love this. Yes!



    • Kate on September 11, 2013 at 9:04 am

      Thank you, Gillian!



  3. kathleen cadmus on September 10, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Love, love, love this! You are an inspiration, Kate Hopper! I am printing this off and keeping it where I can read it and reread often. Congratulations many times over to you. Eagerly awaiting my copy 🙂

    Kathleen Cadmus



    • Kate on September 11, 2013 at 9:05 am

      Thank you so mcuh, Kathleen. And I can’t wait to dive into your pages!



  4. Sue on September 10, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Inspiring, just like you. Whoop whoop from Canada!!



    • Kate on September 11, 2013 at 9:05 am

      Thank you, Sue!!



  5. kristen on September 10, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I’m crying for you!! Pure joy, my friend, pure joy… I cannot wait to read it. So so so happy for you!!



    • Kate on September 11, 2013 at 9:05 am

      It IS pure joy now that I’ve gotten all the other stuff out of me. Thank you, dear Kristen!



  6. Laura on September 10, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Yes. Yes. Yes! The world is a better place because of your courage and wisdom and authenticity. Congratulations.



    • Kate on September 11, 2013 at 9:06 am

      Oh thank you, Laura!! Your words made my day!



  7. Sara on September 10, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Inspiring and exciting—and I bet I would have cried too



    • Kate on September 11, 2013 at 9:07 am

      You will, Sara! I know that day is on the horizon.



  8. Andria on September 10, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Yeahhhh! It’s beautiful. You deserve every whoop and tear. And it made me smile to read about you sharing the news with Donny.



    • Kate on September 11, 2013 at 9:07 am

      Thank you, sweet Andria!



  9. Hallie Sawyer (@Hallie_Sawyer) on September 10, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Oh, Kate. I’m so happy for you. I’m so excited to talk about your book next month and I HOPE that Anne Lamont agent eats his/her f#*cking words. Thank you for not giving up–you are an inspiration.

    Jumping and whooping with you!

    xo,
    H



    • Kate on September 11, 2013 at 9:08 am

      Ha! This made me laugh! Thank you, dear Hallie!



  10. Melinda on September 11, 2013 at 12:07 am

    Thank you for sharing this moving and REAL reaction to your own hard work and success. (My projection is that Anne Lamott would understand and also feel your pride, for whatever that’s worth….Personally, I’m glad you each have strong voices, amazing talent and a desire to support others in their writing.)

    Congratulations and I can’t wait to read it.



    • Kate on September 11, 2013 at 9:08 am

      I love this, Melinda. Thank you!



  11. Angie Mizzell on September 11, 2013 at 7:45 am

    And now, Eye of the Tiger is on constant rotation in my head. 🙂 This post is so real and beautiful. The Anne Lamott story was the best, and especially this: “Through all of that I didn’t give up believing in the book. Well, okay some days I guess I did, but most of the time I just kept at it.” It’s not a glamorous journey, but you’ve reminded all of us how we get there.



    • Kate on September 11, 2013 at 9:09 am

      Now Eye of the Tiger is going to be on constant rotation in MY head!Thank you for these words, Angie!



  12. Andrea on September 11, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Are you kidding me–The book would be so much better if you were more like Anne Lamott??? Ugh, thank you for not being just another Anne Lamott!! You are wonderful and I’m so excited to read your book, and there’s nothing like a good cry, is there?



  13. Kate on September 11, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Thank you, Andrea!! And you’re right–a good cry is amazing!



  14. Stephinie on September 11, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    This is awesome.
    Can’t wait.
    xo~



    • Kate on September 13, 2013 at 11:59 am

      Thank you so much, Stephanie!



  15. Bella Mahaya Carter on September 11, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Bravo, Kate! This is a wonderful post—so inspiring! Congratulations on the book and everything it represents: your courage, determination, discipline, faith, and more! I’m looking forward to reading it!



    • Kate on September 13, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      Bella, thank you so much for your kind words and for posting. I look forward to learning more about your writing and coaching.

      Warmly,
      Kate



  16. Rachel on September 11, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Huge congrats to you. Looking forward to seeing/hearing you at your Berkeley, CA reading in October!



    • Kate on September 13, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      Rachel! Thank you! And I can’t wait to meet you in person in October!

      xo
      Kate



  17. Melinda on September 13, 2013 at 12:37 am

    Kate,

    I’m bleary-eyed from staying up late to read your book. Even though I know “it all turns out okay” namely you did not die and Stella’s a big sister, it’s a hard story to put down. I love that!

    And I just hit the part where you’re visiting the NICU and you see the happy birthday sign and I had to stop to wish your lovely daughter a happy 10th birthday.

    Back to the book before I must get some sleep (or not.)

    M



    • Kate on September 13, 2013 at 12:20 pm

      Oh Melinda, thank you!! That means the world to me. And thank you for the birthday wishes for my sweet girl. 10!!

      xo
      Kate



  18. Kara Thom on September 13, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Whooping for you too!! So so happy for you!



    • Kate on September 13, 2013 at 7:01 pm

      Thank you, Kara!!



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  20. Robin O'Bryant on October 1, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    I just clicked over from Angie Mizzell’s blog and I’m glad I did! The world already has an Anne Lamott– pretty sure what we need from you is YOU! You got a new cheerleader here! Very excited to learn more about your book! xo



    • Kate on October 2, 2013 at 9:00 am

      Thank you so much, Robin. And thank you for stopping by. I loved your interview with Angie a few weeks ago, and I’m so happy to hear about all your recent successes! Fabulous news. I look forward to being in touch!