Home > Writing and Poetry > Friday’s Interview: Kate Wilson

Friday’s Interview: Kate Wilson

Sitting in the visitor’s chair today is Kate Wilson, writer and graduate of ICL. So gather ‘round the fireplace and we’ll begin.

 
Claudsy: Thank you for coming, Kate. Shall we start? Would you tell us if you gain as much satisfaction from your writing now as you did when you began? And why/why not?

Kate: I think I gain more satisfaction from it now, because I’m faster and “looser” (oh, dear, that doesn’t sound right!) and more willing to experiment with different voices and genres than when I was more focused on trying to become marketable.

Claudsy: I’m asking everyone this question, When did you begin writing and what was your primary goal when you began. Also, was that goal achieved or did it change to something else along the way?

Kate: Oh, my primary goal will make y’all laugh: I had taken early retirement to care for my mother, and I was concerned because I was afraid I wouldn’t qualify for Medicare, down the road, as I didn’t have enough “quarters” of paying into it. So I thought, “Hmm. What could I do, working from home? Some kind of self-employment? Oh, I know! I’ll write children’s stories! I’ve never done that before, but surely I can make enough money at it to pay into Medicare…” Hee hee. Okay, so I was naïve.

So, no, that goal was not achieved, but it did evolve into other goals—first, to learn to write well enough to be published, and then to learn to write better and more uniquely, and to write something that was special rather than simply well-written.

Claudsy: That last goal is a mouthful. Do you have an outside/face-to-face writing group that you work with? If so, does it help you more than other possible aides? If not, what would you change to make it more helpful?

Kate: I do have a face-to-face group, but it’s my online critique group that has helped me the most… they are GOOD, and they expect a lot, and their critiques are clear and solid and push me to be better. Too, reading and critiquing their work teaches me a lot.

Claudsy: Given all the time you use creating stories and the like, do you have enough time to do all that you would like to with your writing? If not, how does that make you feel?

Kate: Oh, I have time, now. I don’t use it as well as I’d like! But I have it, and this is my year to use it to make my writing more of a priority.

Claudsy: I know you’ve been writing for a few years now, Kate. Suddenly you stopped working for publication. Could you explain why a talented writer would stop after such a marvelous beginning?

Kate: First, thanks for the compliment, Clauds! (blush)

Actually, I’ve only been writing fiction for four years. I slowed down on subbing short stories to magazines partly because I got “into” writing novels, and partly because I sold stories to Highlights and to Cricket, and my attitude was kind of, “Okay, good, I’ve done that; I’ve proved to myself I could do it,” and the pressure was off. (I’d already figured out that I wasn’t going to make tons of money at it!)

I did get into writing stories, for a while, to fit the themes for some other mags, but I tended to run out of steam when they sometimes held them… and held them… and held them… and then said no thanks! I’ll try again, though.

Plus I love writing novels. Writing them. Revising? Eh. Not so much. I revise early and often for language and for clarity, but the more global kinds of revisions are harder for me to ever feel quite finished with.

But I have to send out some magazine subs next week, because I promised my face-to-face group I would, and we’re meeting again soon, and if I haven’t subbed, I will have to bring chocolate for everyone.

Anyhow, to answer your question, I think I stopped mostly to catch my breath. In the last four years, I retired, took care of my mom long-distance and then by going there; she passed away; we cleaned out (omg) and sold her house; I took care of all the paperwork and so on because my brother became ill, and then wound up completing my late dad’s paperwork, too, because my mom had never finished. I took the ICL course and several others; bought a house, packed, moved, unpacked, landscaped… and then I needed to vegetate for a bit, I think. But now I’m jumping back in, feet first. (Whee!)

Claudsy: I can see you’ve had lots on your plate for a while. But, what do you feel influences your writing the most within the limits of your other responsibilities or life factors?

Kate: Focus, or lack thereof. I do my best… okay, most of my writing when it’s for some kind of deadline or assignment or expectation. So I wrote when I took the ICL course, and I did NaNoWriMo one year, and I write for our Monthly Write-Offs at the Writers’ Retreat and for other contests, and sometimes for themed magazines with deadlines, and I always have something to sub to my critique groups. If I have a deadline, or have promised something to someone, I have no trouble meeting that.

But with my novels that need revising, there are no deadlines or turn-in-dates looming, and that’s a problem. I need to get the manuscripts to the point where I can try to attract the interest of an agent or an editor; then they’ll make revision requests, and I’ll have plenty of focus!

Claudsy: Now, if you could write and publish any one thing, what would it be and why would you be so keen on writing it?

Kate: It would be a novel, probably middle-grade, humorous yet touching, that would make kids and adults smile and be very glad they’d read it, and that would make reviewers say, “What a unique and refreshing voice! What lovely writing; what satisfying plotting; what appealing characters.” (Well, you asked!)

Claudsy: Like many writers do you have unfinished/unpolished projects that you want and need to complete for publication? If so, would you care to share anything about them?

Kate: I have three novels I’m (theoretically) revising. One is an early MG, contemporary fantasy about a girl who catches a snarky pixie in her hav-a-hart mousetrap; the pixie has an agenda, and convinces the girl to help. One is MG, contemporary realistic, about a girl who finds a ring that seems to grant wishes… but she knows that can’t be, and is afraid she’s beginning to take after her mentally ill uncle. And the third is older MG, also contemporary realistic, about a girl whose foster-sister believes she’s an elf—and the MC gets sucked into the fantasy for a while.

They all need more depth.

I’ve got two more plotted out. One is a fast-paced mystery with a boy MC, and the other is historical fiction in which a boy’s older brother goes to Canada to avoid being drafted and sent to Vietnam. The boy convinces his friends, though, that his brother is actually serving over there, until he reunites with his brother and comes to terms with his choice.

Claudsy: All of them sound interesting and unique, if you ask me. If you had to say, though, what do you think is the most important factor a writer needs to take into consideration about her/his own career?

Kate: I think it’s important to remember that one’s career is a work in progress, and one that takes time… skills change and develop, interests (in genres, lengths and so on) change, goals change, and of course life drops its own changes into the mix.

Claudsy: Some say that a writer can never stop learning about the craft. If you agree with that statement, what would you recommend a new writer to begin learning as early on as possible?

Kate: I totally agree with that statement, and I think new writers need to learn as much as they can about solid, in-depth plotting. The most delightful characters and the most wonderful way with words don’t go very far if there’s no real story. 

Claudsy: I want to thank you, Kate, for taking the time to come answer these questions for us all. I’m looking forward to seeing what else you have lined up in the future. 

Short Personal Biography

Kate Wilson, while not a full-time writer, has both a BA in art and an MA in Special Education. She has been a teacher for many years and has captured her share of awards. She took one of the Miss Snark “hook” contest awards as well as a query writing prize. She’s written for both Cricket and Highlights. Presently she’s concentrating on finding an agent for the novel she finished after the Miss Snark contest. And while Kate has no blog or website at present, she rules out nothing for the future.

Her family and other outside interests keep her busy when not writing. She listens to Baroque music since lyrics tend to distract her. As a younger woman she lived in a loft and painted. Her favorite animal is a rabbit.

Claudsy (aside): I wonder if our delightful guest knows Alice. 

As is my wont, tomorrow and Sunday will bring  commentaries. Monday will bring another interview. The guest on Monday will be Donna McDine, who has been with Stories For Children Magazine for some time. I hope to see many here to hear what Donna has to say about her life and writing. 

Until then, enjoy this world of words. They’re everywhere. It’s become positively verbal out there. 

A bientot, 

Claudsy

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Categories: Writing and Poetry
  1. January 8, 2010 at 6:08 am

    Great interview Clausy

    Kate, we need people (writers) like you. Go Girl!

    • claudsy
      January 8, 2010 at 4:18 pm

      Thanks. I’m trying to find some colorful, talented, and interesting writers to serve up tempting hors d’ouvres. I am glad that you’re enjoying the sampling.

      Claudsy

  2. Colorado Kate
    January 9, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Thank you, Clauds, for your fun and insightful interview questions. You made me sound really quite intelligent and accomplished–who would have thunk it? ;-D

  3. January 9, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Clauds and Kate,

    Excellent showing. I finally got to read it. Since you brought it up Kate, any in depth-plotting advice you can offer?

    Meena

  4. January 10, 2010 at 5:00 am

    Clauds,

    I am learning so much about the writers I have grown to love. This interview was very surprising to me and helped me to know yet, one more of my favorite authors just a little better. Actually, quite a bit better and I really love it that I am learning so much about each of them. Keep up the good work, Clauds. You’re doing great.

    Kate,

    I had not realized you were going to be interviewed by Clauds, but I enjoyed her interview of Jan so much that I stopped by to read more. Its so nice to know that you are even more remarkable than I realized. You are a wonderful author, that’s for sure.

    ~ Yaya
    Yaya’s Changing World

  5. Marie Elena
    January 17, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Wonderful, insightful interview. The interviewER and interviewEE happen to be two of my favorite writers and over-all people. Thank you, Clauds!

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