an hour a week


In the last week, we have made trips to the ER, the doctor’s office, and the Minute Clinic. Zoë was hit with croup and had trouble breathing last week (hence the ER visit). She was up, feverish and coughing, for nights on end. Then this weekend, while D was out of town, Stella developed a fever, as well. A doctor’s visit on Monday confirmed nothing, but she was still sick yesterday, so my mom (babysitter/grandma extraordinaire) took her to the Minute Clinic, and she has strep.

The hard part of all of this is that I can’t stay home and cuddle and take care of them all day. This is the first time that I’ve had to head out the door to work and leave my sick girls in someone else’s (albeit very capable) hands. But I miss them, and they miss me. Yesterday, Stella said to Grandma, “I just want to be with my mom.”

Go ahead and twist the knife.

Even without sick kids, I know that the current pace of my life is not sustainable. I’m mother and wife on top of working full time and teaching and editing and preparing for a book launch. (O, copyedits, I will get to you soon. I promise!) And then there is the constant pull back to the page, to writing. Most of the time these days I don’t even think about my own writing, but I feel its absence in my life. I feel flat.

I love when I am in the middle of a writing project and I suddenly wake in the middle of the night with an idea. I love the way the rhythm of my gate on a long, slow run opens my mind to a new possibility in a scene or with a character. I love the way the writing continues to happen in my head throughout the day, even when I’m unaware of the work that’s being done. But in order for that kind of magic to happen, I actually need to be writing and writing regularly.

I’ve had an idea for a novel bouncing around in my head since the end of summer, and last week I realized that if I didn’t start actually writing it, I’d lose my passion for the project. Or it would grow stale. Or fizzle out.

So on Friday, I had an hour between work and a reading I was planning to attend. I went to a coffee shop and I pulled out paper and pen and began to write.

I always tell my students that they can accomplish a ton of writing in an hour or two a week. “Just set that time aside.” Well, it’s time I started to take my own advice. Because I’m a different person when I write—I’m filled with a sense of possibility.

I only wrote for 45 minutes on Friday, and the paper is scribbled mess, but it’s a start, and it’s exactly what I needed.

I don’t know when the next hour will appear, but somehow, I know it will.


  1. your poor girls, and poor you! I hope all are on the mend. And I feel your pain when it comes to writing, it just keeps getting bumped. I need to schedule that time so badly. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Ugh, work-life “balance” is such a myth. Something’s always off-kilter. Sounds like an especially awful week, but good for you for squeezing out a couple tablespoons of lemonade! Hang in there–can’t wait to read your novel.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

    • Dear Andrea, the balance is s myth for me right now, that’s for sure. So don’t hold your breath for the novel. It’s going to be years in the writing!

  3. Hi, Kate! You amaze and inspire me. Seriously. I love the way you love writing and life, and the way you write and live.

    xo, M

  4. Kate, I hope the girls are better soon!

    I also wanted to let you know that you totally inspired me (yet again)–I had an hour between an appointment and picking up the kiddo yesterday and after reading this post, I spent it at a coffee shop writing instead of running errands. Nothing earth-shattering, but hopefully the start of a new habit. So, thanks!

  5. i hope everyone feels better soon!

    you sound like you’re starting, or restarting, the approach i generally try to keep up: at least an hour or two or one day of a couple of hours per week is about the most I can manage, but it keeps me alive…

  6. So glad you found an hour for writing! Wishing you all peace and time to just be.

  7. I’m so glad to hear about the start of something new… And yes, I am often surprised by how great I feel after even a short time putting words on the page. I wish you many more inspired hours.

    Hope the girls are feeling better, too.

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