Motherhood & Words

This is the week that I promised myself I would dive back into the novel. What novel? you ask. I know. I’ve asked myself the same thing. What? I’m writing a novel? I almost forgot about that sad, neglected thing. (Okay, I didn’t really forget about it; if I had it wouldn’t be a source of such unyielding guilt.) I had tried to work on it a few weeks ago, but the book proposal I’ve been working on has consumed my mental energy and I wasn’t able to shift gears, to immerse myself again in that fictional space, to get into Hattie’s mind the way I need to if I’m going to move forward with it. So I put it aside (again) until the proposal was done, which finally, it is.

So I spent a few hours on Monday reacquainting myself with my main characters. I did a little tweaking, realized that I needed to stretch out a couple of chapters and slow down the backstory (or maybe I need more backstory?–I haven’t figured that out yet). I didn’t get much new writing done on Monday, but it still felt good to be working on it, and it felt good to be thinking about it the way I can only think about a project when I am actually writing. It was like inhaling deeply after holding my breath for too long.

Tuesday was slower, full of distractions, but yesterday was better. Today, a little slow, which is why I’m posting right now rather than wondering What Hattie Will Do. (WWHD?) But it’s okay that it’s slow. I’m easing myself back in. And then once I’m fully immersed, I hope I’ll be able to pop into it for a shorter periods of time. Because I also have to be thinking about and working on a few sample chapters for the collaboration project and then of course I have the interview questions I have to compile for the twenty zillion author interviews that have been languishing on my plate.  And then there are the recommendations and the blurbs and the class prep.

But that other stuff can be put off a little longer, right? Because this week all I want is to work on the novel, go to pilates classes (I would go every day if they had more day-time classes), make this, and get the backyard skating rink ready for the girls. (By that I really mean I’d like to watch Donny stand in the freezing cold spraying freezing cold water across our yard while I watch from the comfort of my office, maybe while I drink a latte or a glass of wine.)

So that’s my week. What are the things you’d like to be doing this week? What’s standing in your way?

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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. Andrea on December 19, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Isn’t it funny how you can’t work on one writing project when another is crowding your brain space? Now that the thesis is on its way to the bindery, I’d like to work on a couple of nonfiction pieces. And go snowshoeing (by moonlight, perhaps?) before the rain and ice come. And drink some eggnog and watch Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas. The main thing getting in the way is work (although, a little nonfiction writing on the clock is not unheard of).

    • Kate on December 19, 2013 at 10:39 am

      I know, Andrea! Sometimes they can co-exist for me, but not if I’m in the beginning phases. There is too much thinking involved! Yay for your nonfiction pieces. Can’t wait to hear about those! Maybe this weekend you can fit in the snowshoeing and the Jugband Christmas? That sounds perfect!

  2. Sara on December 19, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Peppermint bark is one of those things that sounds good every year when other people write about it, but never makes my list.

    I’d like to sit by the fire and keep reading (like I did a good part of Tuesday). I’d like to go for a moonlit hike and come back to hot cocoa. I’d like to wrap up (and wrap) all the Christmas gifts and really say, “I’m done.” What’s keeping me from that? Little people who’d rather read Pinkalicious than the new Amy Tan. Early bedtimes and a husband who works evenings. And I’m chipping away at that last one. But tonight B is off and we are officially on vacation, so maybe we’ll stay up a little late and see the snow in the moonlight.

    • Kate on December 19, 2013 at 10:40 am

      I’ve never made it, Sara! And I’m a little afraid that I might eat it all, so perhaps I should skip it, but it just sounds so cozy and fun to make.

      Your wished-for week sounds heavenly. But hopefully tonight you can both finish up the shopping and wrapping AND go for a hike! I hope so!

      • Andrea on December 20, 2013 at 7:52 am

        Definitely make the peppermint bark…and I recommend adding crushed chocolate graham crackers to the chocolate layer to push it right over the top.

        • Kate on December 20, 2013 at 8:39 am

          Oooo, that sounds heavenly. I would definitely eat most of them if I did that.

  3. Nina on December 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    I think it’s great you’re turning your attention back to fiction. I go back and forth between essays and short stories and the variety is nice, even though it can be strange to switch gears like that.

    I’m working on staying on top of my Brain, Child and other deadlines!

    • Kate on December 21, 2013 at 9:34 am

      YEs, Nina, I love that variety! Good luck with all your deadlines.

  4. Sue on December 20, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    Happy to hear you are back at your novel. I laughed about you watching D make the rink, just as things should be. I skated 4 evenings in a row despite feeling tired and that sense of freedom and gliding rejuvenated me. My parents have arrived for the first Christmas since we moved across the country so the house feels ready for the holidays. It helps that my mom and Abbey baked cookies all day while I worked- what a delightful smell to come home to.

    • Kate on December 21, 2013 at 9:35 am

      Oh, Sue. I love that image of your skating in moonlight! I need to be clear: I don’t skate. That wouldn’t be a graceful sight. But maybe I’ll take it up since it’s right there.

      I’m so happy that your parents are visiting for the holidays! What a wonderful, cozy time you will have! xoxo

  5. Angie Mizzell on December 21, 2013 at 11:45 am

    I wish this post had a place to comment by each paragraph. 🙂 First, a skating rink in your backyard? Hard to imagine since it’s 70 degrees here, but that sounds amazing and I didn’t even know you could do that.

    Also, it’s nice to hear about your process, and the time it takes to get reacquainted with the work, and how you really have to reserve energy and space in your mind for the project. There are times when it’s probably easier than others to dip in and out… sometimes I’m there, but right now I’m not.

    I woke up this morning in a wonderful mood. And I think it’s because Shawn is finally home, we had an amazing impromptu progressive happy hour(s) with the neighbors last night (I highly recommend it) and most of the Christmas prep is done. Today will be spent here at home, just being home.

    I need to use this time to think through how I can reserve early morning time for the memoir. That doesn’t have to be the only time I work on it, but morning is usually my best writing time. The trick is making all of the lifestyle adjustments so that I’m able to consistently wake up early to get that hour or two in.

    It’s just nice to know that this is something we all face… making time and space for the work that won’t let us go.

    • Kate on December 23, 2013 at 8:01 am

      70 degrees sounds heavenly. I’ll take that please. Let the rink melt. No, I’m kidding (sort of). It’s pretty awesome to see the kids flying around the rink. (Or watching little Z fall again and again.)

      I’m so glad you’re feeling settled and home. And I know you’ll figure out how to get that hour of writing in in the morning. That’s my best (only) time to write, so it is precious indeed! xox