Motherhood & Words

Well, I did it. I turned in the manuscript on Sunday morning. And I’m proud of it, not only the fact that we met the deadline, but of the work itself. It’s a lovely book.

After I hit the send button and announced it was done, Stella asked why I wasn’t crying.

“Because I’m too tired?” I said, my eyes filling with tears.

I went out and got fancy lattes and hot chocolates for the girls and we toasted to the book being done, and then I took a short nap before we headed out to the Science Museum’s butterfly exhibit and Imax movie, which was the perfect thing to do. I probably would have slept all day if we’d been home, and I’m actively trying to be “fun mom” to make up for my months of “I have to go to the coffee shop” and “I’m sorry but I have to work” and “I need to lie down for just a few minutes” and my general irritability. (We also hit MOA’s rides after school on Monday, which they loved. I’m 2-for-2 in the new fun mom category.)

I’m elated to be done. Definitely. But more than that I’m exhausted. I can’t shake the tiredness that has settled in my bones. I tried to run outside the other day and it felt like I was running in mud. I’ve been going to sleep super early, and finally the last two days, sleeping later than 4 am, which is a relief, but still, I’m wiped out, totally discombobulated.

There is a certain kind of pleasure in being primarily focused on one project, pushing to the side the things that can be, well, pushed to the side. But now that the book is finished, all of those little (and not so little) things—hello, blog!—are now clamoring for my attention. I’ve begun to look at next year and sort out teaching and retreats and the schedule into the summer. And family trips and conferences and editing and updating my website, lining up author interviews, ordering new business cards, etc. etc.

I know need to turn my attention to most of those things, and I definitely start reading the news again everyday, as disturbing as it is. But this morning I wondered what I could let slide completely. Do I really need to step back in and do all the things I was doing before I was so busy? I’d love to carve out more time for reading and thinking about writing in addition to recommitting to the novel (hello, novel!) and working on a few short essays. That sounds like so much fun. But what has to go to create space for what I really want to do? I’m not sure yet, but I’ll be thinking on it.

How have you created the space in your life for the things that matter to you? What have you had to let slide?

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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. Joy on December 5, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Congratulations, Kate! What a huge accomplishment! You should give yourself time to settle back into your life — and yes, think about what you can let go.

    December is always a crazy time for me (my birthday, my wedding anniversary, multiple concerts and parties), so this year I am trying to stifle the feeling that I need to make an appearance at everything. I am choosing to be more selective and spend time with people who mean the most to me, and/or doing things that feed me. The other afternoon, even though there were other things I “had” to do, I sat down and read a book for 45 minutes. It was lovely.

    • Kate on December 5, 2014 at 3:14 pm

      Oh Joy, that’s fabulous! I’m going to finish prepping for a workshop I’m teaching tomorrow and then I’m going to do the same thing. Sit down and read (and maybe have a glass of wine). Brava!

  2. Kristin Nilsen on December 5, 2014 at 11:59 am

    This makes me both exhausted and excited………what an amazing life moment to hit that send button. I would love for that to be in my future. Everything I know about time/life management I learned from Nanowrimo; if I stay home, I can get out of the Target/grocery store/errand cycle. And once I get in the cycle, I can’t get out. So I now schedule everything (meetings, get togethers, classes, errands, etc) in the afternoon so I can start my day quietly and slowly, giving me space to read, write, and play without getting on the task train. I also have plans to turn the alerts off on my devices and scheduling specific times of day to check email and social media so I don’t get sucked into the never ending black hole during my morning reading and writing time.

    • Kate on December 5, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      Kristin, I’m the same way! I do so much better if I write first thing in the morning without checking email or and social media. If I do those, I slip into a similar cycle. Brava for pushing those tasks to the afternoon so you can slowly ease into the day!

  3. Andria on December 5, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Congratulations, Kate!!!! Big accomplishment! You have always been my inspiration.

    I feel your pain about having to be “business mom” a lot of the time, rather than “fun mom.” I’m hoping I can be “fun mom” again soon (when Dave gets home), but it kinda broke my heart the other day when Nora mentioned, “You used to play with us.” Ouch!! As for what I choose to let go — it’s always house-keeping. First thing to go, every time. 😉

    • Kate on December 5, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      Oh Andria, I can’t even imagine trying to be fun mom with Donny out of town as long as Dave has been gone. To hell with housekeeping. You are amazing and Nora knows that, I’m sure! xox

  4. Andrea on December 5, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    That’s wonderful, Kate! Another book!! I’m so excited for you! Cry, celebrate, take long naps. You deserve it. I am so impressed and inspired by you. And I think it’s so smart to take your time and be selective about what you let back into your life. I’ve been thinking about this very thing lately–trying to create time out of nothing, or cram more into less time is not working. I have to figure out what to let go of. After you take your nice long, well-deserved rest, I’d love to read a blog post about what you cut out and how! (Unless of course you cut the blog, in which case, I’ll miss your posts, but wish you well in writing like a motherfucker with all that time) xo

    • Kate on December 5, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      Ha, Andrea! I had a moment thinking the blog should go, but I can’t stand the thought of losing this community, so you’ll still find me here. I already turned down a teaching opportunity for February, and I felt so relieved after I sent the email that I knew I’d done the right thing. I really do want to slow down and ease into words–play with them rather than yanking them out of me in a hurry. We’ll see what happens. And I hope you can find ways to scale back, too. xo

  5. Hallie Sawyer (@Hallie_Sawyer) on December 5, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Oh my gosh, that’s wonderful!! Congratulations on all the hard work! Relish in the moment of completeness and enjoy your family time. I’m sure “what to do next” will present itself quite clearly–it’s what your heart tells you to do.

    So proud of you!


    • Kate on December 8, 2014 at 9:20 am

      Thank you, Hallie! Yes,I need to listen to that heart. More than what’s next, it’s what doesn’t have to be next. What can I peel away. I know you’ve been thinking the same way, so I’ll pop over to your blog and see what I can learn from you!

  6. Laura Nicole Diamond on December 5, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Congratulations, and thank you for this post. It is exactly what I needed to read at this time. There are so many extraneous things (like, you know, jobs) that keep me from The Writing. I relate to the comment above about getting in the errand rut. Getting in a good habit is critical. Starting right now.

    • Kate on December 8, 2014 at 9:22 am

      Yes, Laura, exactly! It’s so easy to fall into habits that don’t feed us. I’m going to try to shake things up this winter!

  7. Sue LeBreton on December 5, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Yahoo! It will be fabulous and I cannot wait to read it.I wish I had advice for what to drop. I am in overwhelm mode with working FT, commuting and trying to take courses and the odd freelance assignment.
    I completed one freelance assignment on Tuesday and said no to one due Jan. 9- hoping the editor comes back to me another time. But with the craziness of December I wanted to keep what little energy I have for my family, especially the little people who are now almost as tall as me-ok Abbey is taller.
    Let’s get quiet and listen to our hearts as they will guide us. xo

    • Kate on December 8, 2014 at 9:24 am

      Good for you, Sue, for turning down that assignment. It’s so hard to do, but you did it!

      I love this: “Let’s get quiet and listen to our hearts as they will guide us.” Cultivating that quiet is key!

      Here’s to family time and lots of love!

  8. Kate Edenborg on December 7, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    That’s great news. I’m thinking of getting my own writing moving again ; )

    • Kate on December 8, 2014 at 9:24 am

      You must, Kate!! I’m sorry I missed you on Saturday, but I hope your daughter had a great class!

  9. Sara on December 7, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Yay! You’re done!
    This is a great time for a little reflection about where you want to be going (right after a big project and end of the year—doubly good time for it). Keep doing retreats though—I’m going to get to one someday : )

    • Kate on December 8, 2014 at 9:25 am

      I don’t think I’ll ever give those up (and definitely not before I get you to one of them). They’re too much fun.

  10. Angie Mizzell on December 9, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    That’s a question I ask myself all the freaking time. The end of this year and rolling into the new is a perfect time to really think about what can slide. Congrats, woman!

  11. cynthia newberry martin on January 18, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Congratulations, Kate. I know what you mean–there is pleasure in focusing on one project and ignoring the less important things–like showers. (I got really good at this during exams in school.) And you finished your book project just in time to move on to Christmas, a project in and of itself. Now I imagine you’re recovering from both. Take your time!

    • Kate on January 30, 2015 at 9:03 am

      Thank you, Cynthia! I’m still recovering. How can that be? I’m excited to follow your daily posts this year!