The Monarch

Knape, Wendi. Monarch Butterfly, 2008. Ink and watercolor on paper.

Knape, Wendi. Monarch Butterfly, 2008.
Ink and watercolor on paper.

In my last blog Clarity I talked about how much my work has improved since I started writing. What you don’t know is the inspiration that started my writing journey was a monarch butterfly.

Laid off from an at-will company (the company didn’t have to tell me why they let me go) in 2003, I felt lost. My mind spit out all sorts of detritus about why I was let go, bogging me down in a depression that had its claws deep. I was unsure of my talent in my chosen field, which was architectural design. I didn’t know how I should move forward with my career, though I knew that I needed to do something that I would enjoy. At the time I decided to focus more on my family; it just wasn’t going to be enough. The stay-at-home-mom label wasn’t for me. There’s nothing wrong with the designation. Parenting is hard work, and raising my children so they become good adults is important to me, I just wanted something more, so I let my thoughts percolate.

Drawing and painting is a passion of mine, but having the time to do it was hard with a full time job so, I always put it off for another day. Reading is another joy that helped me through some awful days too. Getting lost in worlds that other people create was something that helped pull me out of my mental fog. Eventually, the idea of taking my talent in art and my love of reading got me thinking about pushing my career in a new direction. I asked myself, was it viable? The problem was I didn’t know what it was. Did I have what it would take to make something out of my love of art and reading? Could I help support my family by drawing or painting? How could I take the joy of reading and make it into something worthwhile? I didn’t know, so the thoughts kept going round and round, making me undecided on what street to walk down.

My mind was in a continual loop of worry, as I drove to the store, when a monarch butterfly flew past my windshield. The first thing that popped into my head was, I should paint that. The second thing was what if I wrote a story about the monarch. Could I write as well as the authors I read? I was reading children’s books at the time, my two girls ages were five and three, and those books were illustrated. Could I write and illustrate a book?

That was my ‘aha’ moment. I felt lighter than I had in a long time and got excited about what it could mean for my family and me. Seeing the butterfly wasn’t the only factor, but a primary one, allowing me to throw away thoughts circling in my head that weren’t doing any good. I started illustrating and writing my first picture book, Becoming Lucy, a story about a painted lady caterpillar being bullied because she had yet to go through her metamorphosis.

Knape, Wendi. Painted Lady w/ Ladybug, 2008. Ink and colored pencil on paper.

Knape, Wendi. Painted Lady w/ Ladybug, 2008.
Ink and colored pencil on paper.

You’re probably wondering how I went from writing and illustrating children’s picture books to writing paranormal romance novels. It was a gradual shift, moving from the picture book to middle grade stories, to young adult and finally to adult stories. It was a better headspace for me. Some people would tell you children’s genres are easy to write, but they are not. Getting into the mindset of a child, pre-teen or teen is difficult. I was too serious as a kid and I couldn’t remember how to be a kid and wasn’t able to capture the essence of one. Therefore, I shifted my thinking and tried my hand at something I love to read, romance, eventually paranormal romance.

Already in the Deadwood Writers Group, with their support and encouragement the other writers told me I should try my hand at the romance genre. The change was nerve racking, but I gave it a go and wrote my first sex scene, jumping head first into the deep end of the pool. It felt weird and exhilarating all at the same time, I even laughed aloud because I couldn’t believe I was writing one. It was like a river racing toward a waterfall. Ideas started pouring from my mind into a large pool, it harboring ideas for later. It was fun and I haven’t stopped since. I’m comfortable here. It’s not an easy business to break into but I keep my hope close to my chest that one day it will pay off. I still draw and paint, but writing is my inspiration, and I’m very satisfied.

Happy writing!


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    • Book Lover on October 11, 2014 at 9:09 pm
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    Good luck in writing your adult novels. Your paranormal romance scenes are awesome.

    • Sue Remisiewicz on September 15, 2014 at 8:49 pm
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    I’m fascinated by how authors become motivated to write. It often borders on a transcendental experience. Your story strikes me in that way. Thanks for sharing!

    p.s. Your pictures are beautiful!

      • Wendi on September 16, 2014 at 1:27 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you, Sue. It was transcendental. The butterfly kept popping up everywhere after that first one as if it was trying to tell me something.

    • Yibbity on September 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm
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