Motherhood & Words

We’ve had lots of stormy weather in the last few weeks. My sleep has been interrupted with flashes of lightening, cracking thunder, and rain slapping against the windows. The days have been heavy, the air dense and oppressive.

Is it the weather that puts me into a funk? Or all the freelance work I’ve been juggling? Or the problem with my hip and IT band that’s keeping me from running? All of above? Not running definitely affects my moods; I’m less patient and less productive.

D has been home with the girls for a couple of weeks now, so technically I should have plenty of work time, but we’re still muddling through our new schedules and roles. (Me going off to work at the coffee shop every morning while he plans what activities he and the girls will take on: zoo, children’s museum, bike ride to a local lake or park.) Maybe my funk is due in part to the fact that I’ve been feeling a little lonely for my girls and my role as their primary care giver. (Daddy is now the one who is requested more often for bedtime reading, and, well, just about everything else: “I want Daddy to change my diaper!” “No, Daddy wash my hands!” “Daddy do it!”)

But I’m ready to shake off the funk. I’ve caught up on my freelance work and I have the coming week off from teaching. So I’m ready to dive back into the revision of my memoir. (How many times have you heard me say that over the last year and a half? Too many, I’m sure.) But this time I’m serious. I have about 100 pages of the rewrite left, and I need to finish it by mid-August.

This means twenty pages a week. Four pages a day if I write five days a week. That’s a lot for me, but I think I can pull it off. Especially since I already wrote the book once (or twice or three times)?

I remember that the last time I met with my lovely MFA thesis advisor before I graduated she said that by the time I was finished with my memoir, really finished with it (and at the time I had no idea how long this process would take), I would be so sick of it that I’d want to throw the manuscript across the room. I’m actually not sick of the material yet (or at least I’m not sick of it right now, probably because I’m doing so much new writing in this draft that the material still feels fresh.) I am, however, sick of “working on the memoir,” the same memoir I’ve been working on for six years.

I’m ready to move on to the next project, which might be another memoir or might turn out to be a novel. I’m ready to have that buzzing excitement, those months of playing with words and wondering where the story will lead me, what the real story is.

But in order to get to that place, I need to sit down at my computer day after day and finish what’s on my plate. And I’m ready. I hope.

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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. American_in_Cairo on June 28, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Feeling quite similarly about my novel.

  2. Myrna CG Mibus on June 28, 2010 at 10:53 am

    First off, let me say that I feel less alone now that I've read your blog. Another blogger I follow talked about slowing down and time this morning as well. Maybe it's summer? Or Monday?

    I can relate to your kids wanting their Dad – I just got back from a vacation and felt a bit like I wasn't needed at all, my kids wanted "Daddy" all the time, not me. And though I know it's so wonderful that they have a great dad and want to spend time with him, it kind of hurts at the same time.

    By the way, I'm so impressed with all that you DO get done. Amazed. I wish I had half of your focus.

  3. Elizabeth on June 28, 2010 at 11:39 am

    I've been messing around with my memoir for years and years, too. While not sick of it, I just can't seem to rustle up the energy to go through it, page by page, and revise.


    And good luck to you!

  4. unfinishedportraitofsam on June 28, 2010 at 11:48 am

    i can't wait to buy that book, Kate.
    wishing you the energy to plow through it!

  5. kristenspina on June 28, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I relate so well to the writing challenge… but hang in there, you're so close. 🙂

  6. cath c on June 28, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    there is a distinct daddy preference around here, too. they'll appreciate you in different ways later, so enjoy your cafe mornings of editing.

    i've been working on my book for about the same length of time, and i hope this official second draft is done and ready to go out by the time my boys get back from their dad's in august. my girl on the other hand is underfoot while her daddy is at work by day…

    i did sneak in a start of a new fiction project recently and it got the edit juices flowing better after the wee intial distraction. maybe it's time for a little playing around with something new so you can get back to your manuscript with refreshed a bit.

  7. Mary on June 29, 2010 at 12:39 am

    I'd trade in some of our cold foggy days (wool socks and hats in July..yep we do that here) for those fantastic storms. I was transported to my east coast childhood summers reading your description.

    Transition are hard (for me anyway!), esp. when you don't have your outlets. I bet you'll get into the groove next week and the funk will lift. Good Luck!!!

  8. Lisa on June 30, 2010 at 8:35 am

    I cannot wait to read the finished product. You can do it! 🙂

  9. Ines on June 30, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Dear Kate,
    May you write and finish. I, for one, am not sick of hearing about your memoir. I will pre-order your book as soon as you tell me is out. And, it will be. I know it will be. That is my wish for the season.