Women, Creativity, and Writing

 Kath and I on top of Mt. Greylock

This post is written by a special guest, Kath Fearing, my friend and fellow writer/poet.

Many women write better, more creatively, more cleverly than I do, but I’ve come to realize that that is not the point. The point is that I write – not to be the same as someone else, but because it allows me to be the individual I am, and it fulfills me in a way that nothing else does. Simply put, writing makes me feel whole, creative, and so alive. Writing what’s in my heart is like opening a door – closed tight through a long, cold, tiresome winter – and letting in the sweet fresh air of spring.

In my stories for children, I write about flawed characters; aren’t we all flawed in some way? However, my characters find out who they are at the end of my stories. In addition, they become comfortable with, and accepting of, who they are, or who they have become. It is my hope for my readers to understand and accept who they are, and to accept those around them for who they are.

In my book Champ, 12-year-old Todd, (whose father died suddenly, and as a result he has become confused about who he is) comes to understand (as I did when writing his story) what a family is and why they are so important. After saving his grandfather from a fire, he realizes how much he loves him and cannot bear to think he might die.

Todd leaned over and touched Grandpa’s hand. He put his head down and sobbed into his chest, “I know you don’t like me, but…I’m sorry about your painting, Grandpa. I’m sorry about the accident…I’m sorry.” Todd lay there with his head on Grandpa’s chest, praying for a miracle to let him live. Then he felt something. Did he squeeze my hand? Todd put his head close to Grandpa’s ear and whispered, “I love you, Grandpa. You can’t die. You can’t.”

In my book Adisa’s Basket, a she-lion threatens Adisa’s life. In this lion, she sees herself as a selfish young girl, and realizes she must kill the lion to free herself from her selfish youth.

This lion knew me,/she had been watching me,/waiting for me to come to her./Her dark eyes looked through me,/into my deepest part and beyond,/and I saw myself in her eyes,/and I was ashamed of what I saw -/ selfish, closed to others-/and I did not want to kill the beautiful cat,/but she offered to sacrifice herself/to heal me;/and tears welled in my eyes,/for I knew she must die./I took slow, deep breaths,/whispered to her…to me,/I tremble with fear, beautiful one,/but I must kill you.

My second book of poetry is entitled, Old Heart: Yesterday and Today. Poetry is a unique creative outlet. Where else can I rail against war so succinctly, so simply, except in a poem? 

Here is one entitled “Sons”.

Do not glorify that man-made hell
that leaves our mothers’ sons
scattered across
battlefields of hate,
broken into a thousand bloody pieces,
their sweet promise lost,
never beheld again;
and still,
women give their sons away,
to be counted,
listed on some spreadsheet
minus tally-
all ours,
all the worlds.
In each mother’s heart
an everlasting emptiness;
and, soon,
the age-old battle begins anew,
nothing solved,
only numbers tallied,
names listed on a slab
in the town center,
graves dug…
see them there,
row after row,
how brave,
how gone,
how lost
are we?

Perhaps we write to understand ourselves, and those around us. It is said that poets and playwrights tell stories of the human condition – of who we are as people.

I’ll close with a wonderful thought from Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens. “I realize that while I am writing poetry, I am so high as to feel invisible, and in that condition, it is possible to write anything.”

All my books are available at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004G3HH6M

Bio: Kathleen is a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), The Knoxville Writer’s Guild, and the Tennessee Mountain Writers Assoc. has had four stories and a poem published at www.storiesforchildrenmagazine.org. She won fourth place in the Writer’s Digest 76th Annual Writing Competition in the children’s category, and Honorable Mention at the 2010 Tennessee Mountain Writers’ Conference.

Kathleen holds a doctorate in education and taught children’s literature, as well as other courses at various colleges in western Massachusetts, including the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She reviewed newly published children’s books for local newspapers and radio stations in western Massachusetts for many years. As a radio producer, her children’s radio programs won first and second place awards from the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association.

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Debbae said…
We ARE all flawed, some of us deeply. We are all undeniably altered by life.

For my two friends to find such spiritual balm in expressing themselves through writing is fantastic. Really. FANTASTIC! You have voices, you speak, and you speak About Us. In expressing yourself you also give balm to others who relate to your words.

Worthy purpose gives grace to life. Kudos.
Rev. Linda said…
Thank you for your kind and thought-filled words, Debbae...Your art, your grace also blesses those around you. I am honored to have you as a dear friend.
Anonymous said…
It is totally gratifying to know we are heard and understood.
Beautiful spring to you.
Mich said…
Kath, I enjoyed your comment about the point being that you write, not how it stacks up to others’. Being creative is as much about the process as it is about what’s created. Thanks for sharing your comments and some of your writing with us. And thanks to Linda for sharing your space with other creative women.
Thanks, Mich, for your kind words. It is an honor to share this space with others. We have several more amazing creators who will visit later in the month.
Jen said…
We are all flawed and stories help us learn about those flaws and others. I can't imagine a great book of any kind without some human flaw involved.

I am curious, I have always wanted to write childrens literature but never know what to write about. How do you choose the topics you write about and how to you write to reach the intended audience?
Kath Fearing said…
Mich, I only discovered recently how important it was to be true to myself instead of trying to imitate others. But the revelation has been totally liberating.
Kath Fearing said…
Hi, Jen, I've been having trouble posting, but I think I got it now. Thank you for your comment. Let me just say that my heart is with children and the struggles they go through every day to grow and become adults. The stories I write are really answers to questions that I feel need to be answered in a way children can relate to them. In my latest book "My Friend The Werewolf", two friends discover quite by accident that their mutual friend is a werewolf; and that on the morning of his twelfth birthday the curse will become permanent. So the friends set out on a mission to cure their friend so he can be "normal" like everyone else (so he feels). But the story is not about werewolves, it's about friendship, and attitudes we sometimes have toward people who may look or act differently that we do. My story "Champ" is about a young boy searching for his identity after the death of his father (for which he feels responsible). It is a story about families and the ties that bind them together. When I'm writing I become the children I'm writing about. The stories are usually prompted by something I see or hear or read about. Then a story begins to form in my head about how I can relate this to children. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. But I love the process. And I think that's the key. I absolutely love what I do. If you want to write for children it must be because you need to say something to them. At least that's how it is for me. If you would like to talk further about this please visit my blog at http://kath-kidsbooks.blogspot.com It would be my pleasure.

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