What inspired you to pursue writing?
I really became hooked when I landed my first byline in the second grade after writing a story about a periodontal Tarzan who saved children from the ills of cavities, swinging from their incisors to their molars by floss vines. My teacher loved it (to my knowledge she was not married to a dentist) and entered it in a contest. Somehow it won despite the fact that I used the word “neurotic” completely out of context (maybe one of the judges was a dentist), and I started telling people I was going to be a writer.
Later in life I also wanted to be an actress or a horse trainer. I even spent a summer in L.A. pursuing the acting thing and later I was a law student for just over a month, but I knew what I really wanted to do was write. It’s what I’ve always done even if it’s not for an audience. In fact, I still keep an old-fashioned personal journals as well as three journals for each of my daughters where I jot down funny anecdotes, special memories, etc. Recently, a friend told me about a journal she keeps for her children called the “Best of the Best.” She includes best memories, favorite Scripture passages, great recipes, etc. I love this idea, but I’m not sure even a journal addict like me can add another one to my writing life, especially now that I blog as well.
Before becoming a mom I worked as a journalist (my degree is in journalism). I landed my first job as a writer in the marketing department of an academic medical center. I also freelanced on the side writing about everything from physics related to MRI magnets (boooooring) to makeup tips for bride (not so boring). I eventually ended up in my dream job, working on the editorial staff of a regional parenting publication. After I had my first baby, I transitioned to freelancing. My husband was still in school at the time, so I was his sugar mama. I wrote for regional and national publications and mainly covered health and parenting beats. In addition, I supplemented my income with corporate PR work and occasional medical writing for trade publications.
Once my husband finished school, I cut back on some of my assignments and decided to finally listen to God and pursue faith-based markets. I’d felt called to do this for some time, but fear of failure kept me from trying. Plus, I wasn’t a theologian, so how could I really write about faith? Thankfully, several successful Catholic writers encouraged me both as a mom and a writer and I decided to take the plunge. I now write what I (try!) to live. Since the birth of our third child, I’ve curtailed my freelance work further, but I’ll always be writing about something, somewhere, even if it’s just in a journal on my bedside table. Also, my first love is fiction, and I’d love to write the Great American Novel (or just finish one fictional book) someday.
I’ve had people ask me why I write. I attempt to explain it a bit here, but it’s hard to capture why some people have the compulsion to put things into words. Sometimes I write because I want to learn about something new. As a journalist, I loved the research process, and I enjoyed meeting interesting people who lived very different lives than me. These days as a busy mom, I write more to encourage other moms in the trenches and also to help me sort out my own feelings. Then, of course, there’s a part of me that wants to remember these special years with my children (I have three girls ages 4 and under).
As for my faith life, there’s nothing like writing to concretize your thoughts, to make all that is amorphous take shape and become more real. When I’m faced with spiritual dryness and am having trouble praying, I often write a letter to God or sometimes to Mary. Sometimes my words are a blubbering mess, but other times I see that the Holy Spirit might have been at work, guiding me and helping to frame my thoughts. Reading Scripture is not enough for me; I usually have to write to really digest the Word of God.
…More from Kate tomorrow, when we talk blogging.