I’m a writer and a lawyer and a mother and wife and a person of faith. For many years, I believed that the best way to make time for all of these important aspects of my life–especially the writing–was to compartmentalize, setting up rigid mental walls to designate the time and energy I would allot to each area. Especially after I added motherhood to the mix, keeping things separate became increasingly difficult. When sick kid or client emergency or church obligation interfered with my writing time it left me stressed out and frustrated.
Then one July at a party I talked to an old friend, Jim, who had gone to seminary as a second career and been assigned to pastor a very small church. He told me that because the church had no other staff he was effectively on call all the time, to the point that his professional, private and spiritual lives were no longer distinguishable. He said he had never been happier.
Jim doesn’t remember that conversation, but it changed my life. After seeing how joyful he was, I made a decision to take down the walls I had erected and let all parts of my life bleed together.
The first step was to tell people at work and church that I was a writer. I had kept it a secret and never said “I’m a writer” out of fear of the next question: “Oh really? What have you published?” At the time I hadn’t published anything significant. But I began telling people. Putting words to the writing made it real and deserving of priority.
I let my legal work and writing merge. I expanded my law practice to include the representation of other writers, reviewing publishing contracts and handling copyright issues, something I had done for myself and my writer-mother for years but not for other clients. I offered the literary community workshops on copyright, trademark and contracts. At church, where I help teach adult Sunday School, I led the class in a creative writing exercise as part of the Bible study lesson, and read from my fiction at a service focused on the arts. When head lice visited our house (my head is itching just writing this) I took revenge by incorporating the little buggers into the novel I was writing. I learned to write with my child in the same room, even if she made noise and squirmed. As she has aged and become a fine writer herself I’ve enlisted her to help me write believable teenaged characters.
In her book Writing Changes Everything, the late and lovely Deborah Brodie quotes novelist Katherine Paterson as saying:

I was writing–learning and growing along with the children–until eventually I was writing fiction worthy of publication. It might have happened sooner had I had a room of my own and fewer children, but somehow I doubt it. For as I look back on what I have written, I can see that the very persons who have taken away my time and space are those who have given me something to say.

Life is abundant. Don’t try to divide or conserve it. Just let it be one big old beautiful mess.

Copyright 2015 by Heather Newton

September Is The Literary-est Month!

by Heather Newton on September 9, 2014

Two more literary events I hope you’ll join me for in Asheville this month:

On September 21st at 3 p.m., I’ll be reading with other members of the Great Smokies Writing Program faculty at Malaprop’s as part of the Writers At Home Series.  Haven’t decided what to read yet. Maybe something from my new novel in progress . . .

On September 24th at 5:30 I’ll be reading with authors Eric Shonkwiler and Charles Todd White at the Cork & Keg Wine Bar and Taproom on Patton Avenue, followed by free Irish music.  Eric is on tour with his debut novel Above All Men.  Y’all come out and show him what a hospitable town Asheville is.



Join Me For Back-To-Back Literary Events in the Mountains, September 6-7, 2014

August 18, 2014

I’ll be reading from and discussing Under The Mercy Trees and new work at two events the weekend of September 6th and 7th. On Saturday the 6th, join me at the Mountain Literary Festival in Burnsville for sessions at 10:45 and 2:00 and a book signing at noon.  While you’re there, enjoy readings, workshops and […]

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Listen to “Things Summoned” Courtesy of The Drum–A Literary Magazine for Your Ears

December 18, 2013

My short story, “Things Summoned,” is featured in the December 2013 issue of The Drum.  You can download and listen to me read it here: http://www.drumlitmag.com/index.php?page=contributors&display=816  This story is one of a dozen linked stories in a collection I’ve written, set on the campus of a boarding school in the north Georgia mountains in 1969-70.  […]

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Join Me For a “Such A Character” Workshop Starting February 18, 2014

November 6, 2013

What if I told you this: When my parents married in 1958, my father was French. He signed his name “Paien”  and gave my mother a set of French conversation records she can still quote from today:  “Je m’appelle Jean LeCarpentier mais je ne suis pas carpentier, ha ha ha.”  One Sunday they drove from […]

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Join Me This Summer for “Sustaining Your Writing Life”

May 7, 2013

Join me this summer for “Sustaining Your Writing Life,” a five-week workshop I’ll be teaching for the Great Smokies Writing Program on Monday evenings 6-8:30 starting June 3rd (location TBA). Do you long to write, but just can’t seem to work it into your life? Do your writing resolutions last about as long as your […]

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Twitting. Tweetering. Tweeting–Whatever You Call It!

March 20, 2013

I don’t do Twitter, because I already have too many time-sucks in my life, but here are my responses to Twitter interview questions posed for an Indie book event: 1. Favorite book as a child?  Chronicles of Narnia 2. What are you reading right now?  The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova 3. Why independent bookstores matter? They […]

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On Being an Inconsistent Writer

October 17, 2012

On October 30th, my wonderful long-time writers’ group, the Flatiron Writers, will come to my house to critique the new novel I handed out to them to read a month ago.  I’ll provide food and drink and then sit like the proverbial fly on the wall while they discuss my novel the way a book […]

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Mama’s Fat Pants: The Gift of Written Expression

October 9, 2012

I grew up with a mother (Suzanne Newton) who was a writer.  Because of this, in the Newton family, expressing ourselves in writing came as naturally as speaking.  Sometimes my written expression was positive: I opened a poetry business in my bedroom offering to write poems for any occasion (my mother was my only customer).  […]

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Luddite Author Enters 21st Century: Creating an eBook

September 11, 2012

I am the second most technologically-impaired person I know.  (First prize goes to my mother).  I am so inept that after ten years of living in my house I still haven’t memorized which switches turn on which lights, and my husband had to prepare a notebook for me with instructions for operating the stereo and […]

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