Motherhood & Words

I haven’t been here at Motherhood & Words as much as I’d like. I have a number of books that are on my plate to highlight and a line-up of authors to interview. (And of course I still have a lot of formatting to do here. Please forgive my Links page.) I’ll get to these things, I promise. I’m still juggling and jostling my schedule to try to figure out where everything will fit. (It won’t all fit, of course, but I’m in denial about that.)

Part of the problem is that D and I are currently obsessed with Friday Night Lights. (Thanks to friends who wouldn’t hang out with us until we started watching it.) I vaguely remember hearing about this show when it was on network television, but I didn’t pay any attention. Who wants to watch a TV drama about football anyway? But of course it’s not really about football; it’s about people. So D and I get the girls to bed and then we dash to the couch and queue it up, giddy with excitement. We just can’t help it.

Luckily, there are only five seasons, so there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I am writing, though, a little. The novel, though it will be slow, is there, at the edge of my consciousness. And the main character just sort of hovers around me most of the day. (I like her, so that’s not as annoying as it could be.) I hope that she’s doing some of the work of the book during the week while I’m teaching and working so that on the weekend when I can steal away, it will simply be a matter of transcription. I’ll let you know how that goes. The good news—the news that had me beaming all afternoon yesterday—is that I just received a grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, which will allow me to scale back on a few things so I can spend more time writing. Whoop! There is nothing more valuable for writers than time to create, so I am humbled and grateful to SAF.

I apply for as many grants as I can, but usually I don’t get them. That’s just the way it goes. And this is one of those lessons I’ve learned as a writer: My work will get rejected and rejected and rejected, but I need to keep showing up, doing the work—writing and submitting and applying for grants. And if I keep at it and don’t give up, someone just might say yes.

Use Your Words was rejected plenty of times before its acceptance. And even as editors are graciously “passing” on the memoir, I try to keep in mind what my friend Jill says: “You only need one person to say yes.”

This is what popped into my in-box two days ago: Viva Editions’ spring catalogue. They said “yes” to me last spring, and there couldn’t be a more perfect home for Use Your Words.

I will keep pulling in rejections. I know that. But then there will also be weeks like these.

So don’t ever give up. (And apply for a SAF grant next year!) Whoop!

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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. Gillian Marchenko on December 2, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Congrats on the grant, Kate! And thanks for the timely post. The rejection thing is TOUGH!

    Also, saw that you are going to be at AWP in Chicago in Feb? Is that still on? If so, I’ll be there too, and I will definitely find you and introduce myself and give you a hug!

    • Kate on December 2, 2011 at 9:02 am

      Gillian, thank you! And I’m so excited that I’ll get to meet you in person at AWP. Let’s try to schedule a drink or something. I can’t wait.

      What’s the status of your memoir?

  2. Gillian Marchenko on December 2, 2011 at 9:54 am

    If you have time for a drink at AWP, I’m game! I’ll send you my cell closer to the date.

    Memoir status: Finished three drafts and a (I’m sure) mediocre book proposal and am currently in the process of recieving agent query rejections for the project :).

    In an effort to stay sane, I am dabbling in a short fiction piece and a couple other essays for submission.

  3. Gillian Marchenko on December 2, 2011 at 9:56 am

    If you have time for a drink at AWP, I’m game! I’ll send you my cell closer to the date.

    Memoir status: Finished three drafts and a (I’m sure) mediocre book proposal and am currently in the process of recieving agent query rejections for the project :).

    In an effort to stay sane, I am dabbling in a short fiction piece and a couple other essays for submission.

    P.S. LOVE Friday Night Lights!

    • Kate on December 6, 2011 at 9:42 am

      Gillian, don’t give up! It’s an important book and it *will* find a home!!

  4. Erin on December 2, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    What wonderful news!!! I so often think of how hard you work, and what an amazing job you do at putting yourself out there and I’m really happy to hear that you got some wonderful (and monetary!!) recognition. You truly deserve it.

    And how much do you LOVE FNL???? We also had friends who wouldn’t speak to us until we started and now we’re 4 episodes from the end and I don’t know what I’ll do when it’s over. Maybe write an essay about all the reasons why Tami Taylor is the best mother ever on tv.

    • Kate on December 3, 2011 at 11:19 am

      Erin, thank you so much! I’ve been thinking about you and wondering how your project is going.

      I LOVE that you are into FLN too! And I’m with you: Tami rocks.

  5. Sarah on December 3, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Fabulous news! And richly deserved. Yay, Kate!

    • Kate on December 3, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      Thank you, Sarah!!

  6. Sara on December 5, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Congratulations on the grant, Kate! I’m thrilled for you!

    • Kate on December 6, 2011 at 9:39 am

      Thank you, Sara!!

  7. Marilyn Bousquin on December 5, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Hi, Kate! Congratulations on your grant. Yay! Sam watched every episode of FNL this summer and said it was the best series he’d seen. So…I’ll set a goal to watch them before AWP so we can speak the same language. And thank you for the reminder to “show up.” You amaze and inspire me. Sending you a big hug. M

    • Kate on December 6, 2011 at 9:41 am

      Thank you, Marilyn! And you must watch FNL before AWP or we might not be able to hang out.

  8. Amber on December 6, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Congratulations, Kate!! I’m so thrilled for you! You are such an inspiration to me.

    • Kate on December 6, 2011 at 9:41 am

      Thank you, Amber!

  9. Julie on December 6, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Hi Kate! Congratulations on your grant — what wonderful news! Excited to hear you are gathering your thoughts for a novel….need to hear more about that. Have a wonderful holiday season with your family! Maybe we can get our lunch group together in early 2012?

    • Kate on December 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm

      Thank you so much, Julie! And I’d lvoe to have lunch in early 2012.

      Have a wonderful holiday season, as well!

  10. Elaine Williams on December 8, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Congratulations, Kate! It is so important to keep striving for your goals. I self-published my book “The Sacred Work of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren” because some told me: “I don’t know how many copies you’ll sell if you publish, but I know how many you’ll sell if you don’t!”

    It was a reminder to just go for it!

    • Kate on December 9, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      Dear Elaine, thank you for stopping by! I’ll check out your book.

      I love what your friend told you. That’s exactly right. We just have to keep putting our words out there.

  11. 6512 and growing on December 9, 2011 at 1:48 pm


    Committing to not giving up seems like half the work as a writer.
    I know about the gracious “passes” on submitted work.

    I am so hoping your memoir finds a home.


    • Kate on December 9, 2011 at 1:55 pm


      I think it IS half the work! And thank you for your kind wishes. I hope it finds a home, as well! 🙂

  12. Andria on December 10, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Hi Kate! I usually start my comments with, “Kate, you are awesome” and I am trying to think of something new to spice it up. But I’m having writer’s block on that because I really do think you are awesome. I need to have a ball cap made that says, “WWKD?,” like, “What Would Kate Do,” because every time I have an hour to myself and I want to sit around and Google something inconsequential or eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, I just bark to myself: What would Kate do? She would use this time, dammit! She would work on that novel she’s juggling along with 15 million other things like a FAMILY and a JOB. And that shapes me up right away. (Although sometimes I try to convince myself that Kate might simultaneously eat some Ben and Jerry’s, because Kate is fun like that.)

    Congratulations on the grant. That is huge. I hope you have more and more hours here and there to work on that novel and anything else your writer heart desires!

    • Kate on December 16, 2011 at 2:26 pm

      Andria, this killed me. And you *know* that I’d sit around and eat Ben and Jerry’s in a heartbeat. Right now, if I had an hour to myself I would not write, I would take a nap. And I wouldn’t even feel guilty about it. And then I’d maybe eat ice-cream when I woke up.

      How is your novel coming along?

  13. Suki on December 14, 2011 at 4:15 am

    Never give up. The lessons you have to teach are way too important to keep in your dresser drawer.

    • Kate on December 16, 2011 at 2:28 pm

      Thank you, Suki! i just checked out your blog, and I’ll be back. I love your photography!

  14. Molly on December 15, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Congrats on the grant! I’ve only just learned about them and plan to build myself up to it… I just sent you a little note regarding an interview project (Balancing the Tide) and I look forward to perusing your resources and this blog.

    One yes–and good responses, it seems to me, means someone will say yes soon. That’s how it was with my chapbook, etc. I find that the positive responses might be a disappointment (it was close?! but why couldn’t you just accepted it…?) but allowed me to think, “It’s worthy of this work.” Sometimes I think I questioned myself. And I will again, once I start sending out the new manuscript. But look at all the support of what you are doing–with your first book and with the grant–your memoir will find a home.

    PS: Your friend you mentioned wouldn’t happen to be Jill Christman? I loved, loved her book Darkroom.

    • Kate on December 16, 2011 at 2:29 pm

      Thank you, Molly! I certainly hope you’re right!

      And my friend Jill IS Jill Christman. So glad you loved Darkroom. A fabulous book, isn’t it?

  15. Elizabeth on December 18, 2011 at 12:51 am

    For some reason, I couldn’t get onto your blog for a while and thought I’d lost you forever! But here you are, and I’m so glad. I was an obsessed FNL fan — watched the first three seasons back to back for hours on end and then finished them up when they came on tv. I am still in mourning that the show ended. When you’re done with that you and your husband should watch “Breaking Bad” — although the subject is different, it’s an incredible show as well.

    • Kate on December 19, 2011 at 5:41 am

      Oh Elizabeth, I’m sorry. I’m still figuring WordPress out, but I’m not sure why there was a missing page. I’ll look into that! I promise that I’m not going anywhere!

      We’ve heard that “Braking Bad” is really wonderful, as well, but it seems so dark to me. We’ll probably give it a try, but when we’re done with FNL, I definitely need a breather. We’re obsessed!