A Saga of Motherhood
From blogging to publishing a hardcover memoir, Kyran Pittman has made her way as an author by tapping into the realness of motherhood
By Amy Gordy, Photography by Katie Childs
Kyran Pittman hails from Canada, where she grew up in a highly creative family. “My dad was an author, my grandmother was a published author, there were filmmakers and painters in my family—it was very normal to be in the arts,” she said.
She knew she wanted to be a writer from a very young age. “I remember having various publishing ventures when I was little—I would decide to put out a newspaper one weekend, and a play the next.”
For a brief moment she considered changing her course and pursued a public relations degree in college. After deciding it felt “too corporate” she left college and tried her hand at writing.
“I fell into prose writing. I had always identified as a poet, but that never really got off the ground. I was published in a few anthologies and journals—then I had babies. Once that happened it wasn’t conducive to being alone and having time to look inward. Fortunately, I stumbled into blogging in 2004, and it came very naturally for me to write about motherhood.”
Kyran had been in Arkansas for less than 10 years at that point, and found that blogging was a great outlet for her to explore her experience as an immigrant and a new mom. Her blog collected quite a following and caught the eye of Good Housekeeping, where she was invited to become a contributor. After those successes the next natural step was a memoir, and in 2011 Kyran published “Planting Dandelions: Field Notes From a Semi-Domesticated Life,” which chronicled her family life beginning with the decision to settle down, get married and start a family, and ending with the oldest of her three sons hitting puberty.
“That had been kind of my beat, writing about raising kids, then we turned the corner into adolescence and that changed. I felt intuitively it was time for them to have their own identity, and it wasn’t my territory anymore.”
She decided not to write another memoir, but found the blogging landscape had changed in a way that made the platform unappealing to her. “Facebook and social media was growing, and the atmosphere of blogging changed—there were more trolls, and I just don’t think the current social media structure is conducive to people being vulnerable.”
Kyran describes the current stage of her career as being in the middle of part two of a trilogy. “My writing is defined by ages and stages of where my family has been, they have been the source of a lot of my material. Someday I’ll be able to write about these years—in some ways it’s a more intense parenting experience. Not physically, but mentally you have to be on it. I have loved raising teenagers, and I have a lot to say about the way society sets us up to dread those years,” she said.
In addition to her part time work for her church, Kyran sets aside an hour a day to work on her next project, a novel. She finds her biggest challenge professionally is to be her own boss. “With the blog I had people expecting to hear from me. My book contract forced me to focus. When it’s just up to me, for moms in particular, we tend to put ourselves at the bottom of the to-do list. My first book was published when I was 40, and that was something big to check off my life list. I’d like to publish the novel by the time I’m 50, which is two years.”
She’s found midlife to be an interesting time of questioning, and as her kids have grown up, more time has become available to put the focus back on her career. “For younger moms there’s that feeling that ‘Oh my God, there’s no time for me,’ you get in survival mode. Time does open up again, and you’ll find other excuses to fill it up, but you will get the opportunity to reclaim more of your mental real estate.”
The Inside Scoop with Kyran
What helps keep you centered/ grounded? My part-time “day” job. It brings structure and routine to my life, which I really need, but am not great at creating for myself. A regular paycheck is pretty nice, too!
Name three things that are essential to your day-to-day life. A black Bic Flair pen. Blank paper. Caffeine.
What’s a creative medium you’ve always wanted to explore? Songwriting. I’m fascinated how the right words paired with the right music add up to something so much more expressive than the sum of their parts. Sadly, I don’t play any instruments.
What time of the day do you thrive creatively? Whatever time of day it is when I’ve got a deadline hanging over me. Without that pressure, it’s hard to rein my focus in.
What/who/where inspires you? The place I’m most often inspired is in nature. If I’m having trouble shifting into creative gear, I go walking, preferably in the woods or near water. I feel very fortunate to live in a city with an abundance of both.
What are you working on/focusing creative energy on now? I’m learning to write fiction. It’s hard. I’m a perfectionist and it’s excruciating to spend time doing something I’m not very good at yet, so I avoid it a lot.
How have your children shifted your creative career path? I can’t imagine how my writing career would have ever gotten off the ground without my kids. Obviously, they gave me a lot of source material. But more than that, they make it all matter. They provide the drive. I want to be my very best self for them, a woman who has accomplished things.
Which local resources/galleries/classes/ organizations have helped you on your creative path? I owe a great debt to the local poetry slam scene back in the 90s. It taught me a lot about word craft, and how to connect with people through storytelling. I’ve recently become a fan of the Argenta Reading Series, and am trying to make it a monthly date with myself. I also lean heavily on our wonderful Central Arkansas Library system—for research, for quiet space, for literary events and for endless distraction