As part of DCD’s Alumni Speaker Series, students were treated to a visit from Kate Woodworth, writer and member of the DCD class of 1965. Kate spoke to the audience about the importance and value of mentors and how a special mentor here at DCD inspired her to become a writer.
“Mentors can help you know who you are and who you want to be,” she told the students as she recalled the moment she decided to become a writer. She knew this was the direction she wanted to take when her fifth-grade composition teacher, Mr. Youngs, stood over her shoulder and said, “Let me show you how real writers punctuate a dialogue.” She reminded the children that mentors could be found in many places…your teachers, your mom or dad, grandparents, or even a friend.
During her time here at DCD, she began to be interested in science and remembers writing stories about amoebas and paramecium. She even showed the audience one of her original pieces of writing on an old piece of yellow notebook paper and talked about scanning through some old medical textbooks she found left up in the loft of the barn at her childhood home. Though she was “grossed out” by what she read, she became more intrigued by the science. Now as a medical writer, Kate blends her interest in science and her love of writing. “There are many different roads you can take if you are a good writer,” she explained.
One young student asked Kate, “What is the hardest thing about being a writer?” In response, she said, “Going into a room filled with very smart people who know a lot about a particular topic and trusting yourself enough to keep asking questions until you completely understand the subject.” Indeed, this is really a great lesson for all of us, no matter what we choose to do.
Responding to a middle school student who wondered how she deals with writer’s block, she said she takes the advice she received from another writer, that you have to be willing to write a bad sentence. “That way,” she said, “you get something down on paper and know that you can always come back to fix it later.”
Though predominantly a medical writer for the past 30 years, Kate Woodworth has also written novels and short stories as well as pieces for magazines. She penned her first novel, Racing into the Dark, in 1990, and she is currently focusing on writing fiction full time.