Thursday, November 5, 2009

An Evening with Kate Jacobs

Last night, I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting New York Times best-selling author Kate Jacobs. Here's the proof.

And here's more proof (click here).

Most of the people in the audience were middle-aged women, and I'm guessing that many of them were knitters. A couple of them even had works in progress--one woman was stitching away on what appeared to be a blue baby afghan; another was creating a furry, brown shawl or cape. But Kate Jacobs' books are about much more than knitting. They are about family, and friendship, and community. Read on.

This event, held in the auditorium of the Decatur Public Library, was sponsored by the Georgia Center for the Book. Following her introduction by our host, Kate gave a "lecture" in which she summarized the first two books in the knitting series (The Friday Night Knitting Club and Knit Two), discussed how their main characters have developed throughout, and gave a few hints of what to expect in the third volume, Knit the Season, released November 3rd. She described these characters as "friends who live inside her head." I could relate to that! Then, after reading a passage from Knit the Season, Kate fielded a question/answer session, during which we learned a little bit more about her personal life and her journey as a writer.

Here are a few important thoughts I took away from the evening.

(1) Most of us have regrets about certain aspects of our lives, and while we cannot change the past, we can accept responsibility for our actions, learn from our errors, and move forward in more positive directions. Knitting is a metaphor for life; when we make mistakes, it leaves holes in the work; but you can rip out the bad stuff, all the way back to that last perfect stitch, and continue anew.

(2) What matters most in this life is relationships with family and friends. In our modern world, we are busy to a fault; nothing is more important than making time for the people we love. (We also tend to be very isolated; group knitting is one way women seek to build community.)

(3) There is no secret to getting your writing published; you just have to keep working at it, one sentence at a time, one day at a time. Kate recommends silencing your "inner critic" and getting your story on paper, knowing you will edit it LATER. (The same advice our NaNoWriMo gurus give us!) She also shared that the manuscript for The Friday Night Knitting Club was rejected ten or twelve times before it was finally accepted by a publisher. That was encouraging.

Kate was very humble and down to earth. When asked how her life has changed since becoming a best-selling novelist, she said it really hasn't, pointing out she still has the same husband, the same family, the same friends, the same house, even the same car, as before. Knowing that The Friday Night Knitting Club is being made into a motion picture starring none other than Julia Roberts, I found this very surprising--and impressive!

Towards the end of the discussion, a member of the audience stood and shared that, although she really hadn't looked forward to coming to the event, she was very glad she did. It turned out that her attendance was a requirement for a public speaking class she is taking, and while she was expecting a boring lecture on knitting, she had experienced something completely different.



eric said...

Very cool!

One thing I was wondering, was it this same book that got rejected all those times by different publishers, or were they other projects that got rejected and this was the one that stuck?

Pam said...

I can see why you were confused! I'll reword that sentence so that it's clear. But to answer your question, it was "The Friday Night Knitting Club" that was rejected all those times by different publishers. That reminds me of a story Sherrilyn Kenyon shared at the GRW conference. A manuscript of hers was rejected by an editor who told her agent that not only was she not interested in publishing that particular book, she did not want to see ANY MORE WORK, EVER, by its author. This same manuscript was eventually accepted by a different editor and went on to become a best seller. Interesting, huh?