Writing, Motherhood, & Duvet Days

Hi all,

Well, it’s one of those autumn/fall mornings, where I woke up with a little bit of a sore throat, the sky turned grey after the beautiful October sunshine we’ve been getting here. Taking a draw on the coffee to up the caffeine and steel myself for getting out of bed, I reflected on my plans for the day: getting my youngest ready for school; attending to some volunteer duties I’d promised; promoting my essay, which went live this morning (see below!); a freelance project I need to work on…

Then, the familiar croak of my daughter’s ‘ill-voice’. Nothing scuppers a days plans so swiftly as your kids staying off school sick. So, tucking her back under the duvet, unscrewing the lid of the always-sticky paracetamol bottle, I went about squeezing my day’s work into the time I had.

Ironically, and in a totally unplanned way, I have just outlined the basis of today’s published essay. Having often been told it was ‘impossible’ to do any creative work with children around, but conversely finding that my experiences as a mother has influenced my writing in countless ways, I recently undertook a research project to read up on some of the women writers I admired at key points in my life, to see where they stood on the subject.

I found this research to be enriching to my own writing, and it encouraged me to write this essay about it http://feminartsy.com/a-womb-of-ones-own-motherhood-and-the-female-writer/

Working with the fabulous editor and creator of Feminartsy was a great experience, and I feel she helped me pull together all the strands of my argument.  I hope you enjoy reading – I’m proud of this one! : )

Happy reading and writing,

Kate  xx

 

 

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Distraction=Procrastination

“Distraction is a form of procrastination”.

I read this quote online this morning, posted by @TheMinimalists and found it interesting.  It’s something I’ve been grappling with for a while now; a consideration of the multitude of distractions surrounding us.  I spent much of the summer reading books by people like Cal Newport, reading around simplicity and focus and finding a deeper life away from the modern world’s distractions of smartphones and social media.

The truth is, places like Twitter offer a writer a place to share work, to get feedback, and to connect with other people who are engaging in the often frustrating and thankless task of putting words down in some kind of coherent order.

But then there’s the distraction.  And the enemy of getting anywhere at all: Procrastination.  Sometimes, intending to work on a writing idea, I’ve lost countless minutes to responding to a thread on Twitter, only to look up and see my time is up, or my focus has gone.

So this autumn, I committed to making some changes.  I took the app off the phone; I stopped receiving email notifications; I upped my security settings.  I tried to block out the online world and live more in the real one, to allow some breathing space.

Inevitably, I still log on, to share work or to read the work of others.  But I’m finding that I will only do that once I’ve checked in with myself first.  When I’ve walked and breathed.  When I’ve tasted my strong morning coffee and made conversation with real life people.

When I’ve sat at my desk and written something, anything, that might just count toward the work I really want to do.

Kate xx

Oh yes…I also had some work published over the past few days…here are the links, in case you might want to have a read : )

Fairy Tales

http://thresholds.chi.ac.uk/stitching-feminism-and-fairytale/

 

 

Proprioception

In the woods, a man’s glove, sitting on the branch of a sprouting tree.  Black with orange fingers curled like a hand about to pluck berries.

Where would it have come from?  Who would have walked through the woods and left behind a piece of themselves, like an offering?

As I often do, I make up my own story.  Maybe a man was taking a walk through the woods this morning and spotted some autumn leaves turning gold-brown.  Perhaps he couldn’t resist pulling off a glove, so he could feel the crisping leaf for himself.

When we see these tiny elements of nature, of beauty, something within us needs to reach out and touch it, to become a part of it.  I feel the same about the trees that surround me in the woods.  I can’t help reaching out and touching their trunks, rubbing their ancient, peeling flanks, hugging onto them tightly.

Maybe the gloved man was the same.  Maybe he couldn’t help but reach out and touch the leaves this morning.

I like to think so.  I like to think of him now, reaching work wearing only one glove.  Or tonight, reaching into his pocket for the invisible item, puzzling, thinking he’s dropped one somewhere.  Cursing, perhaps, at his loss.  Or shrugging: it’s only a glove, after all.

I discovered a new word recently: proprioception.  The sense we innately have of where our joints are, even when we can’t see them.  We can tell where our hands are when our eyes are closed, for example.

This weekend, we dropped our eldest daughter off for her first term at University.  I thought of this word as we left, as we walked away, back to our car.  A family of four, temporarily reduced to three.

It’s said that a tree’s appearance in the forest changes each time we look at it from a different angle.  The tree gradually metamorphoses as we take each step away from it.

As we stepped away from our darling girl, hurtled back down the motorway, further away from her, the proprioception that began when she was still a dream wrapped up tightly inside me eighteen years ago, meant I felt I’d left a part of me back there.

Like the man with his lost glove, I keep looking around me, feeling something is missing.

Forest Bathing

This morning, I got deliberately lost.  I allowed myself to wander off the beaten track and lose myself in the woods.  Phoneless.  Contactless.

How often these days do people allow themselves to get lost, in this age of sat nav and Smartphones?

I read a book recently about a Japanese practise known as Shinrin-Yoku.  It translates as ‘Forest Bathing’.  It’s the practise of wandering into the forest, noticing and bonding with nature, for the purposes of your own health.  It’s meant to be healing for both body and mind.

Both nature and technology can have a certain allure.  We can find ourselves drawn to, and mesmerised by, either.  Stepping away from the ‘Ping’ of Smartphone notifications and social media updates can allow us to reconnect with nature, allowing us to notice more.  To slow down.

Noticing is what we as writers need to do in order to put words on the page.

Reconnecting with nature can help us to find life more interesting.  To feel part of a whole again.  To maybe become a little bit more interesting (and interested) a person.

Taking the opportunity to notice more, to slow down, to step away from technology and go out and get lost: these things will, I think, feed into our writing and our lives,  making them richer and more meaningful.

Kate x

#ICYMI, I have a little piece of creative non-fiction flash in this lovely magazine: http://www.dnamag.co.uk/issues/issue-two/ called ‘Part-Time Vegetarianism’

 

 

 

Subtle Changes

Hi,

Anyone who writes will get the feeling I had this week.  That one where pieces of writing are going out into the world with your name on, and along with the lovely sensation you feel at an editor choosing your work to publish over the tons of submissions they must get in their inbox, you also feel a little bit anxious about the writing.

The pieces of writing this week were both Creative Non-Fiction – life writing, or memoir – whatever label you want to attach to this form of writing.  And I think that was the reason for the slight twinge of anxiety.  Because, by their very nature, these are going to be more personal to the writer.  It’s a form of writing I’m often drawn to, both when reading others’ work and writing my own, for the connections it opens up: that recognition you get when you realise other people have experiences similar to you.

The first piece was up at the awesome Sunlight Press and was a piece I wrote about the way parenthood and time rubs away at the surface of a marriage, requiring a couple to adapt and change.  If you’d like a read, it’s here: http://www.thesunlightpress.com/subtle-changes/

The second piece went up at a fairly new lit mag called DNA for their ‘Identity’ issue, and is a short piece about my youngest daughter, and the ways she often reminds me of my younger self.  Here’s the link: http://www.dnamag.co.uk/

I think, as you grow as a writer, you often have to be willing to let yourself leak out onto the page, even if it’s in your fictional characters.  And I think if you can do that, your writing feels that much more real, that much more honest.

Happy reading and writing,

Kate  xx

 

 

 

Summer’s End

Hi all,

So, the calendar rolled around to September over the weekend, and I felt totally unprepared for it, as usual.

In the past, I’ve always been a fan of the new feel of September.  No matter how old you get, I think the reminder of new school shoes and sharpened pencils stays with you, whether you loved or loathed school.

This year though, I’ve been trying to run from it somewhat.  My eldest daughter turned eighteen over the summer, and received her A Level results.  She did phenomenally well, and got a place at her first choice university.  It was cause for great celebration.  And yet…at the back of my mind, I could feel the ties that have bound us together since her arrival eighteen years ago loosening.  I could feel her excitement at the thought of living in her own place amongst her peers, learning new things I haven’t taught her.  I could feel her childhood slipping away.

I know this isn’t an uncommon way to feel.  And it isn’t even empty nest syndrome, either, as we still have another daughter to hang on to for a few more years yet.  But it’s that first step of letting go that I’ve refused to think about, and am now confronted with, counting the days and hours until there’s three of us at the dinner table. I wonder how long it will take me to stop buying her favourite foods from the supermarket; or shouting to her up in her bedroom when I think of something I want to tell her…

But enough! I need to think of the positives.  September brings with it an opportunity to dive back into my own writing and submitting – something which gets a little lost over the summer months.  It’s a chance to share some of my published work, and feel the satisfaction that brings.  And a chance to read some of the writing I love.

I have a few pieces coming up for publication – ones I’m really proud of, too.  I have been working a lot more on creative non-fiction, as this is something I find satisfying and my writing tends toward naturally.  I also started attending a class before the summer which combines reading and writing, led by an English Professor and published author and editor, and reading my work aloud there has helped enormously.  It’s the first class I’ve really felt at home at, and I’m looking forward to starting a new term later this month. As a shameless student, I’ve already made a start on the reading list!

In case you missed it, I’m sharing below a link to a published essay/cnf piece I recently published in Feminine Collective.  I have work upcoming in The Sunlight Press; DNA Magazine; Spelk; and Thresholds.

That’s it for now.  I hope that September brings you new beginnings, luck with your own writing, and inspiration.

Kate  x

https://www.femininecollective.com/raising-feminist-daughters/