Craft,  Creativity

5 Questions: An Interview with Katharine Grubb

This is the first of a new interview series that we’ll be publishing on the last Thursday of each month here at 10 Minute Novelists. We’ll ask the same 5 Questions of every author and we’ll see what interesting things they have to tell us.

We’re starting, of course, with our founder and leader, Katharine Grubb.

Background image - books, a cup of coffee, an old typewriter, and a clock. 

Foreground - a tan circle with the text 10 Minute Novelists and 5 Questions with Katharine Grubb.

1) Where and when do you write?

I write every morning at my desk, which is just a corner of my bedroom. Our homeschool morning starts at roughly 8:30, so I try to get an uninterrupted hour of writing in before then. If I don’t meet my word count goals for the day, I’ll come back to it and work in 10 minute increments, around the other household responsibilities. Saturdays, especially in the winter, are good days for me to work in 10 minute increments all day. I try to exceed my word count those days. 

2) What aspects of writing are easiest for you?  

The easiest part of writing for me is free writing. If I could market all of the stream of consciousness nonsense that I get down, I totally would, but Virginia Woolf ruined that for all of us. I have hundreds of snippets of ideas that I systematically add to. I hope that some will be short stories, some poems and maybe if I throw enough of them in a dark room and play romantic music, I might get a novel too. Isn’t that how it works?

3) What themes do you find yourself revisiting in your writing? 

I think that this is an interesting question. I have three big themes that I’ll probably never let go of. The first is trauma recovery. I have past full of harmful, narcissistic relationships and I when I write about memories, past events, or new insight, I find the process to be therapeutic. I need to write about this because it’s healing. The second is the natural world. As a result of homeschooling, I’ve grown more and more enchanted by biology, botany, and other marvelous things on the earth. I don’t love it so much I want to do my kids’ homework, but I’ll never tire of watching BBC Earth or collecting images of unusual animals. I’d like to write a series of poems about the natural world, I think. (Perhaps that’s my MFA thesis?) And the third theme, which I think integrates the other two, is Christian apologetics. It is a fact that I am constantly overcoming the destructive forces of my past, and when I look to nature, I can’t help but see the Creator in it, and so it’s easy for me to trust that Creator for my hope in my overcoming. I never seem to get to the bottom of these themes. I always find more to read about them and more to learn in them. 

4) Do you find yourself compelled to write or do you have to coax yourself into it? 

This is kind of a mixed bag. I have ambitious daily word count goal for 2019 and I do not like falling behind, so even if I have to drag myself to my desk, I find that if I can get ten minutes in, that’s all I need to get my momentum going. It also helps that I have so many ideas and a long list of potential projects, so if I ever slow down with one thing, I can move to something else. I’ve also found that if I’m worked up emotionally about something in real life, that writing about it calms me down and helps me think rationally. And adding a few rants is good for the word count!

5) What are your obstacles to writing and how do you get around them?   

The biggest obstacle that I had to face recently was burn-out and discouragement. When I look at the honest statistics of writers’ success, I wonder often what the point of creative work is. It took me months to figure this out for me. I concluded, finally, that it’s far more important for me to write than it is for me to have tangible results of that writing. I believe that everyone is gifted with some sort of passion or skill or talent — mine happens to be telling stories. And as impractical as it is, I don’t get to refuse or ignore my gift just because I won’t be JK Rowling-level rich or famous. Instead I should be faithful. I should write anyway. All of the best things that have happened to me in my writing career just plopped into my lap. I believe that the faithfulness is its own reward, but you never know what serendipitous rewards are right around the corner.