Please introduce yourself and your book (s)!
I am Kathleen English Cadmus, a writer, a mother, a grandmother, a wife, and a nurse.
My book, Intertwined, A Mother’s Memoir, was published April 2, 2019. My essays have appeared in our local newspaper, adoption journals, and most recently in an anthology, Learning to Heal, Reflections on Nursing School in Poetry and Prose, published, 2018 by Kent State University Press.
What is the story behind your book?
My eleven-year-old son, Shawn’s, life and sudden death is the foundation of the story behind my book. His death was the catalyst for the adoption of my daughter, Laura, as an infant from South Korea. Intertwined, A Mother’s Memoir, tells of the loss of my middle son alongside the adoption of my daughter, weaving together a complex narrative of love and loss, spanning three decades.
What inspires your creativity?
The small events or what I observe in everyday life inspires me to write about them. I believe my nursing education and practice has reinforced the importance of noticing details in commons things. How a person dresses, the shrug of the shoulders, where the eyes move. Combining this intense observation with the belief that all human behavior has meaning, the natural next step is to put it down on paper. Photographs, especially those taken in the past, also provide inspiration and wanting to tell the “rest of the story.”
How do you deal with creative block?
I can honestly say that it is usually lack of time and/or time management that is my biggest roadblock. But, reading well written books is the best way to get me writing. I keep a notepad with me when I read and jot down thoughts that later can trigger the formation of a paragraph or chapter or an essay.
What were the best, worst, and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book?
The worst parts of the process of completing my book were asking others to write blurbs for my book and the self promotion that is needed to sell my book. The best has been readers’ responses informing me that my words helped them or inspired them. Since I was writing memoir, I was concerned about the reaction of real life people who were characters in my book. The biggest surprise came when my 12-year-old granddaughter asked me why she wasn’t in the book!
What role do emotions play in creativity?
I believe emotions can both enhance or block the creative process, especially in writing memoir. If the sadness or anxiety about a past event is overwhelming, it is easy to NOT write about the tough stuff. But for me, once those painful events are worked through, the writing that comes out of it is deeper, richer, and more meaningful for the reader as well as for me, the writer. Time gives a unique perspective that can help this process and enhance the quality of the writing. Sometimes an event is too “close” in time to give it the reflective quality that gives memoir its deepest meaning.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
Free writing is my most helpful “trick.” I always start my writings with pen and paper. Fifteen to twenty minutes of writing non-stop without my pen coming off of the page and focusing on an event or an object or a person and just letting my mind take me where it wants to go. Even if I repeat a word several times before another thought comes to mind, I don’t stop my pen from moving across the page. Then I go back and circle the words that stand out and use those to form the skeleton of my piece. It helps me to better grasp what it is I am really trying to say. Then, my next task to to flesh it out.
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
When I started my book, I was leaning toward the personal. Writing gives me immense satisfaction and with writing nonfiction, it is also an exploration of the inner self of sorts. During the revision process, I gave more thought to the reader. Does what I’m saying serve the purpose of the story? Will the words I am using pull the reader forward to the next chapter? After publication, I discovered what the reader was most intensely drawn to, which leads me to the next question about future books.
What are your plans for future books?
For years, I have wanted to write about the amazing humans I have cared for throughout my nursing career. Now that my personal memoir is out of the way, I am ready to pursue that goal. The response that I’ve had to the grief and mental health issues that are rooted in Intertwined, A Mother’s Memoir, reinforces how much this type of book would appeal and help readers. At this point, I envision a journalistic memoir, exploring physcial and mental health issues through the lives of patients I’ve cared for in my career. An advantage of being an “older” writer is that I’ve decades of experiences from which to cultivate my stories.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself.
I start every piece of writing with pen and lined notebook if I can. Rarely on the computer. My pen of choice is a black, fine-point, slim “Zebra” brand. Several cups of hot English Breakfast tea in a ceramic mug are consumed when I write. And I am a book sniffer. Any book I buy must be smelled before it is purchased. But the deeper I get into the writing and book lover community, I know that I am not alone in that “quirky” behavior.
Facebook page: www.facebook/KathyCadmusWrites (Kathleen English Cadmus, writer)
Twitter: Kathleen Cadmus@KathyWrites2