Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It's time to go.

On 20 November 2015, I decided that I would never write again.

I'd just had the first 3,000 words of my manuscript savaged by the participants of a Novel Writing Masterclass and -- in the midst of the savaging -- been informed my the facilitator that he'd been discussing my work with the publisher who'd been reading it, and her assessment was that it was "severely lacking".

I cried all the way home on the train. I cried to my family. I crawled into bed early and cried some more while I played the events of the afternoon over and over in my head in some kind of masochistic loop.

The worst thing of all (even worse than discovering that my manuscript was badly constructed, unevenly written and highly inappropriate for my target audience) was that I'd previously confided to the group how much I'd loved writing this novel and how proud I'd been of the end result... and how much more vulnerable that made me feel than if I'd had doubts or still felt it needed a lot of work.

Proud. PROUD!

I cringed to the core of the earth and cried until I could hardly breathe.

Clearly I was not cut out for this writing life. I never wanted to write. Anything. Ever. Again.

When the official rejection email arrived from the publisher a few days later, I hardly felt a ripple of emotion.

I'll spare you the rest but suffice to say, this all happened during one of the busiest weeks of the year. I had a major commitment at my daughter's school's massive end-of-year event. I was putting the finishing touches on Reverb. I was preparing for my husband's birthday and my sister's. And then there was Christmas.

I was lucky: I had incredible support. My husband, parents, friends and therapist all rallied to the cause with empathy, pep talks and space to be angry. I came through, stronger and wiser and much more discerning. I even returned for the rest of the Masterclass.

And, in the end, I finally saw the truth: I'd been so attached to writing my novel for a particular age group, spurred by the hope that it would be picked up by a particular publisher, that I had been doing something of a disservice to the story.

And myself.

With all of those expectations gone, I suddenly felt free.

So, I am going to leave it for a bit. I suspect what I have written is actually a novel for adults. I wonder if I was afraid of writing this particular story this particular way. It feels like time to step up to the task.

It also feels like time to let go of all my writing commitments. Including this blog.

I'm sure you've noticed, I have been dragging my heels a little this year. This is partly a time thing. Most evenings, by the time I have a moment to myself, I just want to collapse into bed.

But also: after five years, the reasons I started a blog no longer compel me. I don't feel quite so drawn to engage in a particular conversation or process my experiences in the same way. I also note the urge to reserve my creative energy -- in limited supply while my bambini are so young -- for other things.

This space has been so important to me and I'll always be grateful that I made it, not least for the incredible people it brought into my orbit. I'm so proud of what we've all built together, particularly the reflective writing challenges April Moon, August Moon and Reverb. I do feel a little wistful and sad to let them go.

But it feels like the right time to move on.

I want to know what it's like to write when I'm not doing it because I think I should. I want to see what I write when I am not trying to please or impress anyone else. I want to write just for me.

I'll be back with a few last posts before the end of the year, tying up a few loose ends as it were.

Until then, I want to thank you for travelling with me to here. You are a big part of the reason why I still proudly call myself a writer... something that was a tiny, tentative whisper when I started blogging five years ago.

Grateful for you,
Kat x


  1. My dear blog buddy and friend, I was sorry to read of your experience with the Masterclass, but proud that you gave yourself the time and space to allow all the feelings of having your manuscript judged as it had been and I am prouder still that you are more able to clearly see that you might actually be writing for a different audience than who you planned to write for. You have most certainly grown by leaps and bounds since we first struck up our online connection in the early days of your blog and I am glad to have been one of many to witness your amazing growth and the muscles of courage you have created in this space!
    I will be sad to see you stop writing here, but I fully understand the need to step back and make room for other things to step into your life and I know they will be marvelous things that will come your way! Good luck endeavors Kat, and I will be in touch through other channels =)

  2. I'm surprised to read this, Kat. But I understand since I'm having similar feelings. I want to express my gratitude for this space for me to explore and write. Good luck to you in whatever direction you will be heading.


  3. Godspeed, Kat.

    There are various reasons why my own blog now features more snapshos of plants than text. Chief among them is the realization that no one is paying as much attention as I might want, and the correlating realization that people are moved by casual comments. May you enjoy the same freedom and responsibility in this new phase.

  4. My heart breaks to read this -- I will miss your offerings. I will miss your musings. But I also understand your need to do work that fulfills you. If this work isn't bringing you joy, then you've got to do what's best for you. I still remember working on August Moon 2013 with you, and I treasure your friendship. Even though we don't correspond often, I hope that you know I'm never more than an email or tweet away.

  5. Oh, Kat. I'm so sorry that you had that hurt. I know you'll turn it into something brilliant, but I'm sorry for it anyway. And so glad you are honoring yourself now. I'll be sending you something soon, so hopefully we can continue our conversation the old fashioned way. xo

  6. Although I am very sad to see you go, I am excited for you to see what happens when you write what you want, not what you think you should. I do hope you will check in at least occasionally?

  7. While I am sad to hear that you are moving on, I'm not surprised. I've been wondering for most of the last year when close shop so to speak. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to have met you here & participated in your offerings & journey. Blessings to you & Godspeed on the next stage of your journeys. 💙

  8. Beautiful Kat - I'm selfishly sad that I won't have access to your musings here, but oh so happy you're following your heart. That's always where the magic is. Wishing you all the best, and I look forward to coming to one of your book signings some day.

  9. Gosh Kat! I really really understand! My energy too has shifted. I don't have children, but the magic of blogging seems to have subsided. My writing is asking for something different. The feedback that you got on your writing...I've gotten that regarding my image making from critique groups. It is challenging to manage those kind of negative responses. I think it is okay to be proud. To follow the energy. Perhaps it was a good thing (although not desirable for you to be hurt), but you may be headed in the direction you needed to go in order to do what is next. I have enjoyed your presence and gift of REVERB. Hope to stay in touch some way though we seem to be generationally different.

  10. KAT!

    While of course I am sorry to see that you are moving on, I completely understand, and there is no need to keep pursuing a creative project that no longer serves. Bravo to you for turning the straw of this crappy situation (for the record, did the members of your class forget that "constructive" is supposed to precede "criticism") and for finding a new way to keep your novel and your dream alive. I have so enjoyed reading your words and participating in REVERB with you, and I hope that as you move on to the next thing we can continue to connect and share our creations! Onward! Happy New Year! :)

  11. PS, you know the story about Walt Disney getting fired, right? >>>>>

  12. PPS thank you for ALL the effort you put into Reverb, April Moon and August Moon ... I enjoyed and benefited from them in ways you will never know!!

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. I have neglected the blogging community for most the year. I realize so close to the end of the year that I had not participated in Reverb, nor have I even blogged in over 4 months. I thought to myself "the great Kat McNally will surely have some great words to get my mind motivated again" - I arrived here to see Reverb going strong, but also this shocking message! selfishly sad at the news and yet - such joy fills me to see you following your heart and moving towards a new journey. your words and musings will always stay with me! Happy New Year!

  15. I am happy and sad to read this all at the same time! I have been MIA from writing this year and have my own mixed feelings (not sure if I will pick up Reverb late or not). Thank you for creating an amazing community. Not many people cam say they have done that as successfully as you have. I selfishly hope that you continue to use that talent no matter what's next.