I am a Gardener

Hey Everyone,

I know that I’ve been rather quiet lately, as happens sometimes. The world has been in turmoil of course, with the pandemic and everything else going on. But I’m not going to discuss that today, as many people, some of the much more qualified than me are already talking about it. But I haven’t been quiet because of that, writing has actually been a great solace to me during these uncertain times. No, I have been quiet because I was deeply unhappy with myself and my writing.

Now, according to my Clifton strengths assessment, I am a person who needs to think things over deeply and process them before I can move forward and share them with other people. And everyone, I highly recommend doing your strengths assessment. I can’t even begin to describe the freedom that knowing my strengths gave me. It let me be free to be who I really am, that I am a uniquely beautiful, strong person, not just some weirdo (although I’m still odd and a nerd, lol. But I’m ok with that 🙂 ). So over the past month, I’ve been digging into why I’m so unhappy with my writing, why there is just no ‘spark’, no joy when I wrote, it was just a slog.

After some discussion with my mom (who is an amazing, incredible woman), she asked me a question that really got me to thinking. I write both fanfiction and original fiction. So why was my fanfiction doing so well while I was struggling so badly with my original fiction? I’ve received good feedback on both, I don’t really spend more time on one versus the other, nor do I make money on either of them (I really need to learn to market myself better so that I can give up my day job, lol). This made me really think, delve deep into all the little subconscious things that we all do on a daily basis

I’ve written all my life, it’s part of my very identity. So why had it become such a joyless slog for me? I had been working really hard to up my game, working on figuring out where my writing and characters were going, creating a road map, if you will. I’d been listening to other writers and joining groups so that I could glean wisdom from those who have gone ahead of me. So why was it getting increasingly hard to put words on paper, to tell the stories that I had started with such joy? Why was I so unhappy with my writing?

I do a lot of my writing on a site called 4thewords. It’s a site that allows me to gamify my writing by battling monsters while I write and encourages me to write at least 444 words daily to keep my streak. Having that streak motivates me to write daily (I can be a very competitive person, lol), which is definitely a good thing. It also helps me connect with a wonderful community of writers worldwide. So two days ago, while I was still mentally grappling with all of this and struggling to write, I went to browse through forums to see what topics people were discussing (Avoiding writing? I would never! I was doing, um, research. Yeah, that’s it, research), and I am so glad that I did.

One of the threads there said “Stop the pantser bashing”. Now, since I identify as a pantser (and since I’m as nosy as a cat some days), I decided to go ahead and click on it. That turned out to be one of the best decisions in my life. It discussed about Architects and Gardeners (think plotters and pantsers, but I like the terms architects and gardeners much better) and their different styles of writing. Now, I had never heard of these terms, but I immediately fell in love with them, as opposed to the much more Americanized plotters and pantsers. To me, architect and gardener implies creation, of things being built and grown, of beauty becoming visible to the rest of the world.

And as I read this thread, something shifted fundamentally in me. There is nothing wrong with being an architect, of having plans and blueprints all laid out and to know how everything goes together. Many writers thrive on this. Some people are even hybrids of the architect and gardener, a simple outline or something that they then allow the story to grow naturally from, a landscape architect, if you will. But in this thread, I learned about gardeners, and more specifically, something that I dubbed Discovery Gardeners. Some writers need to discover the story alongside their characters. They don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen next with the story or characters because their characters ‘Haven’t told them yet!’

Let me tell you, when I read this, I nearly wept. This was me, this nailed the sense of deep unease and dissatisfaction that I had been feeling, why I was not happy. I am a gardener, not an architect. As I sat there, kinda reeling honestly, I realized something. I was the source of my unhappiness. By trying to outline and plan and anticipate my story so I could be more productive, I was killing my productivity entirely. This is especially true with my original fiction. With my fanfiction, I was a lot more easygoing, I would simply sit down and write, see where the story took me. That is, until the past month when I started trying to figure out my story lines more. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that plotting and outlining are bad, they are very useful to many, many writers out there. But for me, that is the worst possible method out there. I need to discover the story alongside my characters, otherwise, my story is dead before it even begins.

I don’t know how deep into my hole of unhappiness that I would have dug myself if I hadn’t seen that thread. Probably quite deep as I searched and tried increasingly more structured writing methods to fix what was ‘broken’. But I thank God that I saw that post, because it gave me the permission that I needed to be me. Actually, it’s rather funny. I spent most of my teen years telling my mother that I am not and will never be like her. Since then, I have had to take back most of my words, because I am very like my mother, something that I’ve come to be very proud of. But one thing that I always disputed was that I am not a gardener. I do not like gardening, it’s a lot of weeding and planning and dirt from head to toe some days. Once I got over my revelation and sense of rightness, I had to laugh, because I AM a gardener. Well played, mom, well played. It just turns out that I’m a gardener of words rather than plants (I do not have a green thumb, lol).

So, when you write, be yourself. If you are an architect, plot and plan and build your beautiful story according to the structure that you have laid out. If you are a gardener, enjoy the journey alongside your characters as you live your stories. Even if you are somewhere in between and are a landscape architect, as I’m sure that many are, enjoy the process. You are unique and the stories that you tell can never be told by someone else. They are your stories and no one else’s.

So, I’m off to chase butterflies and pick wildflowers and see where my stories take me, because I’m a Discovery Gardener 🙂 I wish you all happiness with your writing and pray that you find your own writing style. We all have a story inside, tell yours in a way that makes you happy, no matter what others think, no matter if they tell you that it’s the wrong way of writing. You are infinitely unique, so your writing is going to be infinitely unique as well.

Happy Writing!

(P.S. If you are curious about 4thewords and want to try it out for yourself, you can get a free month using my code VXKKX33097. There’s a great community there and lots of events and challenges to keep you writing, no matter if you write 5 words a day or 5,000.)

Changes – This is Me

You may have noticed that I’ve recently changed a few things about my blog lately after being absent for quite a while. Life, as always, is crazy, but I want to share why I’ve decided to make these changes. Let me tell you about me.

I don’t remember learning how to read, it’s just something that has been part of me for as long as I can remember. Books have been such a large part of my life, they make up the core of who I am. I have been writing nearly as long. I dictated my first stories to my mother who kindly wrote them for me and then moved on to writing them myself. There was nothing that I enjoyed more than getting lost in a good book or creating a story.

When I was fifteen, I finished my first novel. With all the brash enthusiasm of teenagers, I sent my book off into the world to be published. I made the mistake of choosing Tate Publishers to send my book to, a company that I later found out did not have a great reputation. After waiting months to hear back and being told repeatedly that everything looked good, I received an email saying that they could publish my book….. for four thousand dollars. I was crushed, naturally, for what teenager has 4k just lying around. Also, at no point was any discussion of payment brought up, so I felt blindsided and betrayed. Looking back now, I know that this was a rather naive way of viewing the world, but it set off events that changed my life for the next fifteen years.

After receiving this email, I swore that I would never show anyone my writing ever again. Again, teenagers are so dramatic! And I was a terribly shy teenager so having summoned the courage to share my writing, this made it’s rejection all the more painful. (I think I had some wild idea of becoming the next J. K. Rowling or Christopher Paolini, an overnight sensation with people begging to read my books. I don’t know, time has passed since then.) From that day forward, I never shared my writing with anyone, not even my family, although thankfully I never stopped writing.

Years passed and I finished high school and then college, before moving into the workforce, landing my dream job as a librarian. Throughout this time, people had told my that my writing was great, although I never showed them the stories that I wrote, just college and workplace assignments. Office politics happened and I ended up quitting my job as a librarian and becoming a full time essential oil wellness advocate for doTERRA essential oils. This allowed me to travel to Guatemala and Nepal as well as meet some incredible people. I know, you’re wondering why I’m telling you this, but it’ll become relevant later, I promise.

Two years ago, in September 2017, I got fed up with living my life in fear. I challenged myself to write a mystery and publish it in time for Halloween. Imagine my surprise when I sat down to write the mystery and a six book series popped into my head! And thus, The Seeker Files were born. I did manage to write the first novel in a month and publish it, but I was soooooo burnt out, lol. Since then, I’ve written and published the second book and recently finished writing the third book in the series. (It is now in the editing stages, which I admit takes a bit longer. Editing is not in my wheelhouse, lol). All of this was done under the name Kat Seaholm

Fast forward to May of this year. I am still with doTERRA essential oils and right now, the company is really focused on something called Gallup or Clifton Strengths. If you don’t know what that is, check it out, it is totally amazing and life changing! https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/

I ended up taking the full 34 strengths test and it was life changing for me. It allowed me to see that there was nothing broken or wrong with me, that I was simply being ME. By learning about these strengths and how to use them properly instead of holding me back, it was life changing. It was like finally being able to breathe deeply after holding my breath for all of my life. It give me permission to be me fully, without shame or regret. And this is when I realized, that even though I had published my book, I was still living in fear. I was afraid to put myself out there, fully and totally, was hiding behind a pen name using a plethora of excuses as to why it was a good idea or why people would hate me. And I’m tired of it. So I’m currently working on rebranding everything under my real name.

So goodbye Kat Seaholm. You were good to me, you helped me get past my initial fears and to actually get my work out there. But it’s time to let you go and to step boldly out so people can get to know the real me, with all my quirkiness and rough edges.

Hello! I want to invite you to get to know me, the real me. My name is Katie Holmburg. My mother loves Irish names, so my name originally was going to be Kathleen, but as my middle name is Colleen (I’m the third generation to have Colleen as a middle name and love it), it was decided that Kathleen Colleen was too many een’s so I ended up with Katherine instead. But I am and always will be a Katie, not a Kathy or a Kate or even Kat, but simply Katie.

I turn 30 tomorrow. I know that this is a big milestone for a lot of people, but I am so grateful to be turning 30. I feel like I am just beginning to hit my stride in life, to figure out who I really am.

I am happily single and enjoying life. I have waaaaay too many cats (8) but wouldn’t get rid of a single one. I am about a year away from getting my black belt in International Kenpo Karate Jiu-Jitsu or IKKJ and love being a martial artist. My mom doesn’t understand how it is that her only daughter is the one who took up martial arts or writes murder mysteries instead of one of her three boys, but she loves me anyway.

I love to write and I love to read, but I hate grammar and it hates me back. I still have the first novel I wrote, but it needs a serious overhaul and is NOT a part of The Seeker Files. I’m still figuring out the part of being a writer/publisher/wearer of all hats, but I learn something new everyday. But I know that my characters will always have a story to tell and need someone to tell it, a.k.a. me.

So thank you for being part of my journey so far. And I hope that you continue the journey with me as I continue writing The Seeker Files and discovering Aletta and Lirim’s story. As I discover who I am and share it with the world.

Happy Friday!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEJd2RyGm8Q

This is Me

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