creating in the midst: Kirsti Call

This week author Kirsti Call is joining us for Creating in the Midst to talk about her experience with homeschooling while pursuing her own writing. She is the mother of five, author of The Raindrop Who Couldn't Fall {which my children and I all adore and have read multiple times since ordering it just a few weeks ago!}, and a beautifully creative soul. Thank you for sharing this space today Kirsti! Now on to the Q&A....

~What does an average day in your house look like?
Our house is noisy and chaotic and filled with the energy of five kids ages 13, 11, 9, 7, and 4. The house brims with pressing ideas and interesting projects. We start out doing things together; poetry memorization during breakfast, reading the Wall Street Journal,  critical thinking, music flashcards, writing. I usually read to the kids as they clean their rooms and do the dishes. Then the kids split off to do other things like math, piano/guitar/drum practice, typing, coding. Then the three oldest spend time reading or working on various projects. My 11 year old, Naomi, started her own etsy shop, Little Andover Girl, and donates 20% of her earnings to The African Library Project.  She spends time making art and jewelry and sewing bags. My 9 year old, Sydney is our chicken whisperer. She studies and reads about chicken care, takes care of our 7 chickens and sells their eggs. Right now she’s researching how to care for the chicks that will hatch in 9 days!  My 13 year old son, James, especially loves spending time coding and programming lego robots. By 3:00 pm we go to choir, or theater or jazz band or some other class. We usually end the day with dinner, a dance party, and reading!

~What projects are you currently working on?
I’m working on several quirky picture books and a middle grade novel about a girl with super powered singing skills. I’m always percolating on several other ideas at the same time.

~Can you tell us a little bit about your writing life?
I’m almost always writing something in my mind or noticing things that  would make a great story. I love the meanings and musicality of words, so arranging them in the most powerful way that I can fills me with joy.

~What measures do you take to protect your creativity?
I try to really live in the moment and make every moment a creative one. With five kids in my house, I have to use my creativity to motivate people to help around the house or practice instruments. Paying attention to the creativity of my children helps me keep my mind ready to embrace ideas and inspiration.

~Do you need absolute quiet to write, or do you prefer noise? And how does that impact your day?
I used to need absolute quiet to write. I’ve gotten more flexible as my life has gotten more chaotic. By the time everyone is in bed, I’m too tired to write. So I try to take a few minutes to write in the morning before everyone is up and during the day and I try to catch five minutes here and there as the kids are working independently.  

~Do you create alongside and with your children?
I do. We have a project room which we named “Calliflower studio” (after Peter Reynolds told me to name it).  The room is packed with fabric, beads, painting and sewing supplies, magazines, glue, etc. The walls are papered with our paintings.  There we write songs and stories together.  

I had fun overseeing the making of creative birthday gifts for my husband recently. The boys (13 and 4 yrs) made him a movie. The 7 and 9 year old girls wrote him a song and sang it while accompanying themselves on the guitar. My 11 year old daughter made him a chess cake complete with chocolate pieces.  

~Do you have a set time of day, or of the week, that you set aside for your creative pursuits?
I try to write every morning, but honestly, I don’t really have a set time. I write when I find my muse or a moment when no one needs me.  

Do you set weekly/daily/monthly goals?
I join writing challenges to keep me writing. I’m a member of the 12x12 challenge which helps me write and revise one picture book monthly. In November I participate in Picture Book Idea Month where you write down one idea for every day of the month. Last month I participated in Reading for Research Month where you read picture books and use them as mentor texts. And now I’m participating in Rhyming Picture Book Month--all of these challenge help me to hone my writing skills and produce more stories. I also contribute to Writer’s Rumpus, Children’s Book Academy and Kids Are Writers, so I have set deadlines to follow.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a writer and a homeschooling mother?  
The most challenging aspect of being a writer and a homeschooling mother is prioritizing my time! I sometimes wonder if my writing time takes away from time I should devote to the kids.   And I’m constantly thinking about how I can ensure that I use my time in a way that makes me happy and everyone else around me happy too.  

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer and a homeschooling mother? I have the privilege of learning with my kids, understanding who they really are and helping them to follow their dreams. And there is nothing better for a kidlit writer than spending time with kids.  My kids inspire my stories and having them home and learning with me only make my stories more authentic.

How do you feel about the word balance? Is there such a thing?  Balance is tough.  I’m always trying to balance my professional needs and wants with the needs and wants of my family.  Sometimes I spend more time homeschooling and less time writing. Sometimes I miraculously accomplish both at once (usually when kids are feeling particularly motivated or interested in their projects).

~Has your creative process changed due to homeschooling?  Last year I devoted my 5 hours a week with no kids at home to writing. Clearly, I don’t have that quiet time anymore--but I do have an environment rich with inspiration and creative energy. I’m now able to create more with less time and more chaos!  My creative process has become more organic. I may have to stop writing in the middle of a sentence and I may not finish an entire blog post in one sitting any more. But I’m also more flexible and able to go into writing mode as soon as I sense I have a window of opportunity!

~What advice would you give to someone who is passionate about their creative pursuits, and just starting out on their homeschooling journey?
I’m just finishing my first year of homeschooling and I've struggled to discover a way to pursue my writing and give my kids the attention that they need and deserve. Now after 8 months, I've decided that the best way to create is to create with your kids. We sit at the table and write together and somehow, writing and homeschooling have never been sweeter.

Kirsti - thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. I love how you talked about using your creativity to live in the moment, and how homeschooling has helped to make you a more flexible writer. I can relate to that for sure! It's also wonderful to hear that you create alongside your children, and how it can actually enhance your writing life. Thank you again for being here in this space, it's a joy to get to know you through your words!

Links for Kirsti:
The Raindrop That Couldn't Fall

If you or someone you know, are a homeschooling parent who is in the midst of creative pursuits and would like to contribute to this series, please contact me at crnnoel(at)gmail(dot)com.


  1. Wow! Kirsti, I'm so inspired and uplifted by your story of how you've integrated writing into the daily work of home education. It really doesn't have to be a separate time. I'm going to follow your lead on this because just now I realize that I've been making excuses for three months why I can't open the file on the book project that was off to a blazing start at the beginning of the year. As each day slips into warmer weather, the farther I feel from my writing. I'm also delighted by the projects your kids are into. I'm off now to check out Little Andover Girl!

    1. I'm so glad you're going to integrate your writing in the day! I know I'm more true to myself when I allow myself permission to write while the kids are working on things.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Carrie. Hopefully my kids feel like they have the freedom to create and learn in the ways that are best for them.


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