Q: What can readers expect from your book?
A Place to Land is a memoir, so readers can expect real-life storytelling. They can expect to travel with me from my childhood in Michigan to my young adulthood in Cape Town, South Africa. I should also warn potential readers that the book does walk through some difficult topics like divorce, my mom’s cancer diagnoses, and her eventual
Q: How did writing your memoir change or challenge you spiritually?
Writing memoir is an incredibly sanctifying process. For one thing, there are so many steps involved in writing a book of any kind—planning, writing, editing, revising, waiting, trusting, sending, giving, laboring some more, promoting . . . the list goes on. I expected that writing and publishing a book would be a monumental task, but going into it I had no idea how much it would stretch and grow me spiritually.
With memoir in particular, because the story itself is your own, many emotions get tangled up in the process. I struggled to know which stories to include and which to leave out—what would strengthen the main theme? What would resonate with readers? Which stories will fall flat? Which sections do I want to share out of my own pride, and not because they will benefit my reader or contribute to the goals for the book? I had a hard time trying to discern how much of my story to tell without telling too much or too little. Doubt came into play, and I questioned whether anyone at all would benefit from the finished product.
Then during the editing process, it’s very easy to take the editor’s suggestions personally. Thankfully, I was blessed to work with some incredibly gracious editors. I never felt as if they were being condescending, disrespectful, patronizing, or flippant. They carried my story with grace and support, while still offering helpful suggestions to make the book stronger overall. I never felt as if my voice was removed, altered, or stepped on during the editing process, but I can imagine that for other authors, it might be really hard to hear a professional in the field tell you that certain aspects of your story aren’t worth being published. During this stage it’s important to swallow your pride and humbly accept advice from others.
When it came to making revisions, there were days when I felt that I had nothing more to give. If I had already put my best foot forward in the first few drafts, what else did I have to offer? I would stare at my screen and not know what to do. This phase really forced me to increase my dependence on the Lord. I had to trust that whatever words He wanted in the book, He would keep there, and whichever words He didn’t want would be cut out.
As I neared publication and my first readers got access to the book, the dark clouds of fear threatened on the horizon. What would people think? Would they think the book was a waste of their time? Would they think the quality was poor? Would they think my story was boring or too sad or self-consumed? At this point, the Lord continually reminded me that it doesn’t matter what others think. Though this is a lesson I need to learn on a daily basis, I keep going back to the truth that only God’s opinion matters. If I’ve offered my best to Him and for His glory and not my own, nothing else matters.
So I guess looking back, the whole publication process is one big exercise in faith—
trusting God to open doors and lead the way as He sees fit, and for His purposes.
Q: What was the most difficult part about writing your memoir?
Writing about my mom’s death. My eyes tear up just thinking about it. I must have cried about 72 times through all the revisions and edits and more revisions. But they were therapeutic tears, and I’m so glad I’ve documented the experience, since the memory does fade. You don’t think you’ll ever forget something like that, but the details do fade. Another challenging aspect was simply trying to decide which stories to include or not include. Having amazing editors was a huge help in this process, but obviously they can only work with what I give them. There were many times when I would write scenes that my editors asked for, and I would be thinking to myself, “Who the heck cares about this? This is so boring!” But in the end, as a Christian writer I have to trust that the Lord will keep whatever words He wants to have in the book and cut whichever ones He doesn’t.
Kate Motaung is the author of A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging (2018), A Start-Up Guide for Online Christian Writers, and Letters to Grief. She is the host of Five Minute Friday, an online community that encourages and equips Christian writers, and owner of Refine Services, a company that offers writing, editing, and digital marketing services. Kate blogs at Heading Home and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
My Amazon Review:
Kate’s book will require tissues, leave you better than you found it, & possibly make you want to board a plane & see the world!
A Place to Land feels like more than a book. Honestly, this artwork painted scenes so vivid, I feel like I time traveled back to Kate’s past and watched it all unfold before my eyes. Her memories almost seem like a part of mine now, which is so wild! I feel connected to her in some deep and mysterious way, through experiencing the ups and downs on her journey in these pages. I cried, I laughed and much resonated with my own longing for an eternal home. It will cause a deep appreciation for those God places in your life too. I am already passing this book off to a friend and am excited to tell more people about it. If you are longing for belonging, need someone to relate to in a time of heartache you are facing, or just want to curl up with a good memoir to enjoy and learn from – I highly recommend A Place to Land.
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