Writing isn't always Flip-flops and Typewriters in the Park.
Sometimes, Writing Really Sucks.
Because, when we don't give up, it can be pretty amazing.
That's why I'm so happy to be able to do what I can to make it suck just a little bit less.
But it took me a minute to get here.
It's been a journey. I know that's cliché, but it is SO the truth. Let me draw you a little map.
It would take me a year and a whole lotta, "And then"s to tell you all of those stories, but you can check out the Coles Notes version below.
↑ Click to read a chapter, if you're really curious.
1. Hopewell Cape
I grew up in rural (and beautiful) Hopewell Cape, on the Fundy Coast of New Brunswick, Canada.
2. Park Ranger
My first adult job was as a Park Ranger at The Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park - a 15 minute bike ride from my childhood home.
At the end of the tourist season, one year, I took a train to Halifax to visit friends. I missed my train home...and sort of decided to stay. It's still my favourite city in the world.
I came home, planning to return and attend Law School (set to save the world through argument and a strong background in western philosophy). I had kids and started my crazy-cool fam-jam instead.
Road less travelled and all that. It made all the difference.
5. Diagnosis & ASL
Before my youngest turned one, my older daughter was diagnosed with hemiplegic cerebral palsy (bit of a story there), profound neurological hearing loss and a severe communication disorder.
I started to learn the dancing language of ASL. Beautiful.
6. University and Divorce
And I started University...and got divorced. It was a busy time...and the best time of my life.
I made friends I'll never forget, learned deeply about some of the most amazing topics (teaching, reading, writing, words, drawing, psychology, cultural anthropology, history, colonialism, retribution, revolution, and all of the bits of humanity in between).
I cannot over-speak the importance of higher education. I don't care that I'll never be out of debt (although that being a necessity to learn is deeply problematic), because I was fundamentally changed, as a human being.
When given the choice between learning and not learning - we should never ever choose to close our minds.
7. Teach, teach, teach
I graduated with 2 University Degrees (and a generous handful of minors, because learning is my absolute FAVOURITE) and began teaching High School English.
8. Too many hats
I was working as a teacher, curriculum advisor, bookkeeper, market researcher, communications and a half dozen other hats at a local school for students with learning disabilities.
I was also - just for fun - working in a retail shop and raising my two girls alone.
9. Burnout and the fallout
After 4 or 5 years working at that rate, after a marathon of working while at University and single-momming my girls...it hit.
And the fallout from working myself stupid and running my engine WAY too hot for WAY too long. I got really sick.
And I left teaching - the job I thought I was made for. It was a heartbreak, and I had no idea how to go forward without it.
10. Write, write, write
I heard from a dear friend of mine, about a learning community, online. It offered free live classes for creative people, and she knew that the only salve I could use was learning.
So I dived into learning ALL the things there were to learn about "Creative Entrepreneurship". I mean...I learned that Creative Entrepreneurs exist - and they need writers to help them communicate their value with their clients.
I started the framework of With a K that year, and it was amazing! But after some time, I got caught up in supporting other people's creativity without supporting my own.
The fit still wasn't quite right.
11. Draw, draw, draw
Cleaning out one of my many boxes of books one day, I pulled out some of the fine art and drawing texts I had used in one of my many minors in Uni (Remember the learn-a-thon of my undergrad? I still miss being in a building filled with experts who are simply waiting for you to walk into their classrooms and learn).
I cracked open a sketchbook and let out an exhale of creative play I'd been holding in for YEARS.
12. Write, teach, draw...create!
After, "Witha K" had been running successfully for some time, I ran into the parents of one of my former students.
They said to me, "Kris, she needs your help," and I was SO there for that. She had been one of my favourite students and I was excited to see how she was doing in High School.
We met up at a coffee shop and talked about everything - boys, ringette, high school, oat cakes...and Romeo and Juliet. Because that was the subject of the paper she needed help with.
When I left that café, I realized that this was the thing I was missing. I had to put all of my things together and let myself be a teacher and a creator.
I just needed to be doing it in a way that supported the Voices of other women who needed to share their Stories with the world.
Stories really are the best way to get to know a person.
This is what I believe to be true:
I see the world with a critical cynicism about the state of things as they are - and a wildly outrageous optimism for the potential things have in the future.
- All people are of equal value and have equal right to express that value.
- Through education alone can we do so - as individuals and as a society.
- Creativity and Creative Action are the only ways we can save the world.
- It actually is our responsibility to do just that.
Because I truly feel that what we DO should be proof of what we BELIEVE, you can also learn a lot about me by how I do things.
- First, I look at the broken thing, and I see all of it's broken-ness and flaws. I catalogue them and critique them and shine a high-powered spotlight on them. Sometimes, this makes me cry, but tears are good and refreshing.
- Right away, I start to have wild, hope-filled daydreams about the potential that thing has to be a perfect, amazing, world-changing thing of earth-shattering beauty.
- Then, I create a systematic plan to tackle the broken thing and make it into something else - using skills, knowledge and creativity.
- And finally, I work and work until I land somewhere in between the broken thing and the perfect thing.