My parents were terrified of uncertainty. They had a hunkered-down mentality, as if they were spending their lives in a bunker. Taking any kind of risk was unthinkable. “Don’t rock the boat.” “Be careful–you don’t want to burn your bridges.” Being raised this way tends to give a person a slow start.

My parents had a skewed way of looking at things—college, for example. I was told that I had to go to college so I could get a job and pick up the slack if something happened to my husband. This was my mother’s reality; my dad had an accident and ended up partially disabled. Mother graduated magna cum laude from USC and after graduation, she went to work as one of the “girls” in a dental office. Every job she ever had was in a doctor’s or dentist’s office, and she seemed to believe a bachelor’s degree was required for these jobs. She never had a library card; for entertainment, she read the short articles in Reader’s Digest.

I, on the other hand, was a book addict. I always wanted to write. I wrote my first “novel” at age 9, about a horse. At university, I had lots of ideas for books and stories, but there was always an academic paper that I had to write instead. I don’t think they had degrees in creative writing in those days, so I majored in literature. When I graduated, I was expected to return home and get a job filing charts in the doctor’s office where Mother worked. I needed that degree in order to file the charts in alphabetical order.

I rebelled. I drifted from one place to the next, picking fruit, cleaning houses, pulling weeds, and writing in fits and starts. I never finished anything I wrote. I ended up a single mom, and like my mother, found myself doing doctor’s office jobs—billing insurance, transcribing chart notes and letters, and handling worker’s compensation claims. In my spare time, I started a novel set in Egypt’s First Intermediate Period. I wrote 300 pages before I got stuck. By then, my daughter had grown up, and I had moved up from working in private medical offices to hospital systems. It was a good living until I got laid off. Writing was still my passion, though, and I started another novel. I finished that one and wrote two more books. It has taken a lot of years, but I’m using my education at last! I’m a very late bloomer, but now I’m writing from a lifetime of experiences as a single mom working in the trenches. The good thing about being a late bloomer is having so much to draw on—bizarre work situations, hitchhiking, living in the woods, and so much more. I have lived it all.


5 responses to “I’M A LATE BLOOMER

  1. The longer you have lived, the farther you have come, the more you have to draw on. we’re so looking forward to reading your books, kate.


  2. Thanks, Hare–the same is true for you, too! We’ve both come a long, long way since we were roommates at “Fontainebleau” or whatever it was called! ~ Love, Kate

  3. Interesting take on the parents; mine was slightly different, and went something like, you better learn to type, because if by some unlikely chance any man would ever want to marry you, he won’t amount to anything, so you’ll need a way to earn a living. When I quit college after 2 years at age 20, I was NOT encouraged to gut it out and continue. And when I went back in my 40s, busted my tail and graduated SUMMA cum laude, thankyouverymuch, she didn’t even send me a card!

  4. Wow! None of it makes any sense–yours or mine. Congratulations on the summa!! I have so many questions that will never be answered.

  5. Yeah, don’t we all… Did I ever tell you what Kerry did on my graduation day? Mother cornered her and said, “I didn’t know she was graduating summa. I was magna cum laude. What did YOU do?” Without missing a beat, Kerry fired back, “Yeah, I screwed up too, I was only magna cum laude.” I’d have loved to see the expression on Mother’s face at that moment…. Later, she mentioned her magna status to me, and I said oh yeah? Who gave you the B? And without missing a beat, she said, that lit professor my second semester! All those years later she still remembered who kept her out of the summa ranks.

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