How Long 'Til the Form Emerges?

Emerging Form interviews NYT #1 best-selling author Kate Fagan

Spring—and the whole world seems to be emerging at once—consider the wild iris that grow in the wetlands, their sideways growing rhyzomes producing new stems each year. What part of your creative practice is growing sideways now to allow for new blossoms sometime in the future?

Preview: Episode 41 with Kate Fagan

Sometimes we can see right away how a creative endeavor will go—and sometimes it continues to emerge right up until the last moment. That’s the case with Kate Fagan’s new book, ALL THE COLORS CAME OUT, a memoir about her relationship with her father and his death from ALS. (It comes out May 18 from Little Brown.) We talk with her about process—specifically the differences between telling your own story and telling someone else’s. Kate’s first book was a coming-of-age memoir and her second was the #1 NYT bestselling book WHAT MADE MADDY RUN, the heartbreaking story of college athlete Maddy Holleran, who died by suicide. We talk about the different approaches she took to involving (or not) loved ones who appeared in her memoirs. We also speak of the importance of writing the real story vs. the story you wish it had been.

Kate Fagan is an Emmy-award winning journalist and the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of WHAT MADE MADDY RUN, which was a semi-finalist for the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sportswriting. Her first book was the coming-of-age memoir THE REAPPEARING ACT, and her third book, ALL THE COLORS CAME OUT, comes out this month from Little, Brown. She currently writes for Sports Illustrated and co-hosts the podcast Free Cookies. Kate previously spent seven years as a columnist and feature writer for espnW, and ESPN The Magazine. She was also a regular panelist on ESPN's Around the Horn and host of Outside the Lines. Kate covered the Philadelphia 76ers for three seasons and played college basketball at the University of Colorado. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her wife, Kathryn Budig, and their two dogs.

What We’re Reading and Listening to:


  • For a decade, I have relied on The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. This book of days feels less like a wise friend, a companion. It’s no exaggeration to say that it saved my life. There was a time I couldn’t imagine getting through a day without it. I’ll be hosting Mark with our past EF guest James Crews today on Stubborn Praise, Monday, May 10, at 2 p.m. MDT if you can join us, free.

  • I’ve recently discovered Vox Populi, a public sphere for poetry, politics and nature, and I love their weavings. Perfect rabbit hole to fall into for hours.

  • My tween daughter asked me to read the fantasy series she is hooked on now, and I am really enjoying Red Queen by Victoria Avelard. This NYT #1 bestselling novel pits the reds and the silvers, divided by blood, and follows a brave and sassy young woman who discovers she has inexplicable power.


A Poem on the Emerging Form of our Relationships

Today, I notice something green
spearing through the dirt
in the garden, and only
because there are eight such spears
rising in perfect rows do I vaguely remember
last year I planted bulbs there,
but I don’t remember what they are.
How much of the beauty we plant
do we forget?

There is so much in me that grows
because of words you have sown.
I doubt you remember them,
I don’t remember them, either,
only that your words were kind
and now they have taken root.
Who knows what the flowers
will look like? I water them, though,
trust I’ll be delighted when they bloom
into a garden of beautiful I don’t know.

I Don’t Know, by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

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Two Questions:

(share your answers with us here on Substack or in our FB group)

  1. What time of day works best for your muse?

  2. Who is the best first reader/critic of your work and why?