A time poor, middle aged woman becomes a “newbee” beekeeper. Together with running a business, raising two teenage kids and training a husband, caring for a recalcitrant dog and a flock of feathered friends on a suburban block in Melbourne, what could possibly go wrong?
Take time out from your own hectic life, to have a laugh about someone else’s. Become immersed in the amazing world of bees, whilst at the same time following the journey as my garden evolves into a bee friendly paradise. Along the way I reflect on life, and in particular the lessons my grandmother and my children have taught me.
My memoir will make you laugh, and probably make you cry too. So grab a coffee (or something stronger), waggle dance your butt to the couch, curl up in front of the fire, and for just a little while be transported into another world – mine.
My book follows the path of a “newbee” beekeeper, the steep (sometimes vertical!) learning curve, the stings, the wins with nature and the losses. Along the way, my books digresses down the different paths of my journey, exploring the lessons of a so far well lived life. Of the adventures I have shared with my children, and fond childhood memories of my own with my grandmother.
Let's talk about it
Tell us something about yourself that not many people know.
I wish I had studied horticulture instead of accounting – dirt covered overalls appeal to me more now than a blue suit and heels ever did.
Why did you choose these themes in your book and were you aware of them from the outset?
I never intended to write a book. The idea came about not long after I took the plunge and immersed myself in the world of bees and beekeeping. Many friends, family and colleagues were interested in my latest, left of centre project, so once my hive and bees arrived, I took to writing weekly email updates, keeping them abreast of all the developments. Apart from the expected responses of “When are we getting some honey?” there were other, more unexpected responses along the lines of “You have a way with words — you should write a book!” The idea grew on me, and I would find myself walking the dog, riding my bike, or driving along in the car, formulating ideas and paragraphs in my head. The themes of my children and grandmother’s influences certainly developed as the book progressed, as I looked to expand the scope of the book and incorporate precious memories of times I have spent with them, and lessons I have learned.
How difficult was it for you to write this book? Did you face any obstacles?
I did not find writing the book at all difficult – I loved writing it. The process was different to anything I had ever done before, and certainly appealed to the artistic side of me. I loved taking photos and preparing the watercolours and choosing the quotes that precede each chapter. The book is 77,000 words, so the process of writing and editing it – changing all the chapters around, merging and moving bits and pieces – certainly took a long time. Helen Christie from Blue Wren Books typeset my book, and did a wonderful job making my ideas (and hers) work, resulting in a book that is a fun “educational text”, a memoir, and a coffee table book all rolled into one! I would probably say the typesetting was the most difficult part – not because of Helen, she was amazing, but because there are so many choices to make. What size, what paper, what colours, what cover? All of these choices would have a big impact on how my book looked and on how other people would see it. People judge a book by its cover…and I was terrified!
What are your writing habits or idiosyncrasies?
A lot of my book was written on my phone! I would have a thought and would have to type it before I forgot it. Sometime swathes of text ensued (this is a slow process, as I am sure you can appreciate, as I am a one finger phone typist not like the two-hand thumb typists I have given birth to!). At other times, it was just a note or two. I would then download it all to a word document, where I tried to put it in date order, whilst colour coding the themes of the different paragraphs. These then formed into (hopefully) flowing chapters. My book has been described as very “conversational” as my thoughts flit from one thing to another as the weeks and months pass. I tried to amalgamate these thoughts into substantial passages, so that readers did not end up feeling as exhausted as I do living in my own head!
With hindsight, what would you say to yourself as a fledgling writer?
Get it done…time is running out. I had my draft ready, including the photos and quotes. I had the typesetter all organised, and we had had our first meeting. My Dad was in declining health after suffering a stroke 7 years previously, so, determined that he should read my book, I gave Mum and Dad a copy of the manuscript, along with a handwritten letter to each of them. The letters were thankyou letters for things they had done for me throughout my life, both the serious and the not so serious.
As Dad was supposed to be doing his exercises, Mum would instead find him sitting is his chair reading my book – over and over again. Mum said they nearly fell out of bed laughing one time as she narrated the paragraphs about the Jehovah’s Witnesses gracing my doorstep. Dad passed away before my book was published, and I so wish he could have seen it. But I am ever so grateful he got to read it. There is a dedication for him in the front of my book: To Dad – TTFN
What’s next for your writing?
My son Jack thinks I should write a sequel. Perhaps I will. I enjoy the process of writing, it’s very cathartic, but I find the promotion and selling of my book difficult and exhausting. I am not a lover of technology, websites, or, as I like to say, anything that is an “i thingy”. It’s not my thing, and I am not good at it. I find it frustrating, a waste of my time on this planet – I’d much prefer to be outside in my garden, surrounded by my buzzing bees. But I have much to write about, and more wisdom to impart. Jack does too – why just last week, we caught a swarm of bees together. A magical time spent with my ever-growing teenage son. An afternoon I will remember and treasure forever. Perhaps it would be nice to put it onto paper…
Kathryn is a qualified accountant, who runs her own bookkeeping business, whilst beekeeping on the side! Sharing suburban life in Melbourne with her husband and two teenage children, life is hectic, and Kathryn does all she can to offset the weekday desk drudgery with creative weekend exploits. Gardening, painting, stitching, welding, carpentry. With a mantra of “Life is short, don’t waste a minute!” life with Kathryn is never boring, but goodness it can be exhausting!
This is Kathryn’s debut publication.