Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Guest Author: Kat Ward

When I first read Kat Ward's articles on Hometown Pasadena I recognized her enthusiasm for discovering the treasures of her new hometown. I know the feeling! No wonder the Dena embraces her; Kat is easy to like. Please welcome today's guest author, Kat Ward.

Saugatuck River, Westport, CT by Kat Ward

What a difference 24 minutes make (and 15.46 miles). From procrastination to proliferation; from unfocused to driven; from stuck to inspired—thank you, South Pasadena.

After eleven years of living in the Hollywood flats, I felt claustrophobic in the mishmash of my neighborhood. Initially, this world spurred my writing. Late at night as I looked out my window, the city lights reflecting yellow-green off the low clouds, I wrote diligently. But years of sirens, car horns, loud drunks and party-goers wrung out my last nerve—my hand constantly held the t.v. clicker so I could raise or lower the volume depending on how expressive the neighborhood was feeling. I began to feel uncreative. I ached for something else.

Artist Jennifer Frank introduced me to a woman who had raised her kids in South Pas. The very day I met her while walking in the Arroyo, she called and told me of an apartment for rent across from her house. I wheedled and charmed the landlords and got what I needed—a bigger apartment that doesn't share a single wall—finally a quiet night's sleep—versus neighbors washing dishes at midnight, dumpster divers outside my window or helicopters with search lights. Best of all, a tub-length shower versus an upright, coffin-sized stall shower and a 10 minute drive to my daughter's school! I suddenly had an extra two hours on my hands five days a week. Divine.

With my time, I have edited my friend Lori Bertazzon's self-help workbook Where Are You Stuck?; have a local professional copyediting my novel Amy's Own and have started a blog loosely based on my current novel Keeping Sane, and Other Aspirations.

The biggest boost was meeting (again through Jennifer Frank) and being hired by Colleen Bates of Prospect Park Media, a small publishing company in Pasadena. Colleen authored the outstanding guidebook Hometown Pasadena and created a website of the same name. After doing a few freebie posts, I was hired to write about local events, kid-focused fun, new shops and charity fundraisers, and to do monthly interviews. I get to go to businesses, use my photography skills and write stories. I am having the time of my life.

 Dubrovnik, Croatia (formerly Yugoslavia) 1988, by Kat Ward

I stay up until two in the morning and awaken with the alarm to get my girl ready for school and I don't miss a beat. One day when she was off on a Sequoyah School camping trip, I stayed up all night, not going to bed until 1 p.m. the next day—I was so amped with ideas, I couldn't wait to put them all down on paper. I was walking on air. Well actually, I was walking on Oxley Street. My new street lined with California Craftsman bungalows and endless trees—where I can walk and walk in the quiet (even at midnight), letting ideas germinate, words gush and adrenaline pump.

Thank you, Hollywood; you did me well, but I have to let you go.

Now my spirit is excited, my mind humming, my writing hand aching, and my composition books filling up. Hello, San Gabriel Valley.


Kalei's Best Friend said...

Thank you for sharing!..omg I love the journals...I started doing similar ones when I came across a gal, who is a good friend, on Blogger... Art journals are so cathartic and you learn a lot about the creator!.

Margaret said...

Colleen and Prospect Books are such a treasure! I'm always happy to hear nice things about them. Best of luck on your writing projects.

Petrea Burchard said...

Kalei, I think you caught Kat's enthusiasm--or maybe you already had it!

Margaret, I agree. Colleen's too young to be an institution but she's well on her way. She and Hometown Pasadena and Prospect Park Books are important supporters of the Dena community and I love them big-time.

Anonymous said...

beautiful photos. thank you.

Petrea Burchard said...

I agree, Anonymous. I loved seeing them pop up on my screen. They're so different from what I usually do, and not just because they're black and white (although that's huge). But I love the mystery of them, the soft edges.

Kat Ward said...

Kalei's Best Friend: Thank you for your comments. My cousins travel a lot and create watercolor travel journals as they go.Watercolors of whole scenes or just products at an outdoor market or interesting architectural pieces—they are divine! Thanks for reading my piece.

Margaret: Thank you for your encouragement in regard to my writing—I'll take all I can get! & yes, Colleen and her books are quite worthy and I so admire her tenacity. All the best to you.

Anonymous: Thanks for commenting on my photos!

Petrea: Many, many thanks for asking me to guest blog. I love your site.

Colleen said...

Ah jeez, an institution?!! No wonder I'm gaining weight! I appreciate the praise, but this is all about Kat, who has a wonderful voice and is a great addition to the SG Valley writing community!

Petrea Burchard said...

I did say you were too young.

Yes about Kat's voice. It comes through clearly in all she does. I'm still in love with the piece about the hat shop--which I had never noticed until she pointed it out to me.

Kat Ward said...

Colleen: Thanks, Boss!
I am having a blast writing for Hometown Pasadena. Can't thank you enough for the opportunity.

Desiree said...

Very exciting--great photos-

Irina Netchaev said...

Kat, welcome to South Pasadena! It is a lovely place to live.

Love the Dubrovnik photo! Beautiful!

Steven said...

Nice to meet you Kat. May the wind always be at your back. And I wish you all the success the previous Guest Authors featured at Pasadena Daily Photo have achieved. You are in rare company and your presence is well earned.
ps My grandmother's maiden name was "Ward." All the best to you Kat.

Ms M said...

Wonderful post, Kat! Best of luck to you on your creative projects.

Bellis said...

Those articles you write for Hometown Pasadena will be even more interesting now I feel I know you.

Kat Ward said...

Desiree & Irina: thank you for the comments, re: my photos. Even though I started out in small-town photojournalism and for the last ten years have done mostly headshots, my favorite photography has always been snapping when I travel.

The big, wide world just turns me on—the people, the different cultures, languages, architecture, food, landscapes—it's an observers dream.

Thank you for reading.

Kat Ward said...

Steven: Many thanks. I don't know how "earned" my presence here is (I still feel like such a newbie in most everything, even though I'm about to hit the half-century mark), but I do feel extremely lucky and fortunate. Thank you for your words.

The "Ward" side of my family comes from the East Coast via Hugh Ward a baker from Ireland who settled in PA, then his grandson Robert Boyd Ward who made quite something of his products and himself via the Ward Baking Company in PA and NYC. Any relation?

Kat Ward said...

Ms M'z: Thank you. I checked out your site—are the pics on your first page all in Boise? Makes me yearn for a trip beyond Southern Cal.

Petrea Burchard said...

A good batch of comments, Kat, I think you've got new fans.

Thank you for being today's Guest Author! What a pleasure!

Kat Ward said...

Thanks, Bellis. Now, I'll really have to write interesting posts. I love that someone's reading them!

Susan Campisi said...

How can I resist a blog called "Keeping Sane"? Count me as a new fan, too. SGV has such a creative and supportive community. It's no wonder you found your way here, Kat. I love your story and photos.

Thanks for another great SGV guest author post, Petrea.

Ms M said...

Kat: Yes the pics are all in Boise. Spring and fall are the best times to visit.