Create Out Loud
with Jennifer Louden
19 | Poet Kate Baer On Using Your Critics To Fuel Your Art
In this episode:
- A delightful behind-the-scenes chat with writer Kate Baer, author of the #1 New York Times Instant Bestseller, What Kind Of Woman, a book of poems.
- How social media complicates creativity but also lead to Kate's new poetry book
- Why "a-ha moments" may be a myth
- How to not get a trapped in a certain medium
- What led her to write her newest book (hint: it wasn't what I thought!)
Writer and bestselling poet Kate Baer has a beautifully truthful relationship with motherhood, with social media, with internet trolls, and with being a woman. It's wrestling with all of this that inspires her poetry, poetry women love (and some men are threatened by) because she tells the truth.
Kate uses her life and her critics to know her truth and develop her craft. It's incredibly brave, so I kicked off our conversation by asking about that.
What keeps me going is that the alternative is so sad. The alternative — to be quiet, to be silent, to kind of go off the radar, to retreat — is such a sad thought. You know, it's tempting a lot of times, but there's so many different reasons not to write — our own ego, fear of failure. There's so many different reasons, not just internet trolls, and I always just come back to the alternative being really sad. So I think that's what keeps me going.
I also wondered what got her started. How did she choose poetry? For her, it wasn’t a moment, but a slow burn evolution into writing poetry and sharing it. She started as a “mommy blogger'' but found that she needed to take a break from it. You’ll want to listen to find out why Kate turned to fiction and then how she began taking poetry seriously.
But her identity as a writer and writing as a profession is something she’s always taken seriously. She recognizes that it’s not something she can do on the side. She needs dedicated time. So we talk about that, along with juggling the realities of motherhood and the emotionally draining toll of social media.
Approval is the biggest addiction. With the way Instagram and the social media algorithm works, you’re constantly improving your following. You just kind of get stuck in the cycle of, ‘I have to keep performing here so that people keep listening to what I have to say and find my books.’ That is such a toxic place to be, and we, and I, have to stay there to some degree. But I've really started to pull back because I don't think it's helping the work. I think it's taking away from it and ultimately hurting me and hurting what I'm doing.
Kate goes deeper into what it means for her to pull back from her audience, and you won’t want to miss what she has to say about this double-edged sword. “I think I'm just angry on behalf of everyone, that we're caught in this cycle where we're having to perform, where we are saying things we don't actually mean…”
Next, we turned to her new book, I Hope This Finds You Well. Listen in as she gets vulnerable, revealing why she was resistant to writing it, how it came about, and what made the process so difficult.
For artists and creatives, it's not always about fun and it’s not always pleasant. A thing is presenting itself; are you going to grapple with it or not? There’s no right answer. Kate grappled with it.
The experience was much different from writing her first book, What Kind Of Woman.
The first book felt like something that I’d wanted to write and had inside me for so long. I sat down to write that book, and it just came. It was hard to write at times, of course, and there were moments of doubt and writer's block, and all the things that come with writing a book. But it felt like it was there all along. It felt like something that I had been writing around for a long time...then finally just saying it, which is such a wonderful thing about poetry; you really get to the point quickly. It was very fun to write, only because it felt like scratching an itch.
She talks about reading and writing and getting into flow in a way that rings true. Kate’s favorite artists are risk-takers and that’s what she hopes to continue learning and doing.
This and so much more.
Join me as we learn how Kate Baer creates out loud.
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