The reasons I choose to ask Hadas Knox (@hadas.knox) to share her story are so many that I would certainly leave some behind if I tried to name them all. She is an inspiration of mine since I came across her profile when I first started using Instagram. The truth is that I was more easily amazed back then, as all the wonders we share there, that I have now grown used to, were very new to me. But hers stood the test of time, building value along the way. She won me over with her tender spirit, her heart wide open, her faith in life, and her determination to shape it as she sees fit. From an ancient roots mama, and a forest fairy to an aspiring novelist she has grown into.
Hers is a story of daring, overcoming, dreaming and accepting but never settling. And I am sure you will find it not only inspiring but also moving, for she offers her vulnerability as a heartfelt gift to those reluctant to dive. Enjoy this conversation about what it feels like to travel the path of the heart.
I would love it if you would share bits of your story as an introduction to the conversation, just a short paragraph on who you are, where and how you live?
I’m a wife and mother, homemaker and homeschooler to two little ones. My son is five and my daughter will be one this month. Last year we bought a fixer-upper farmhouse in upstate New York and moved from a little cottage in the woods about an hour south. When we moved in, there was no plumbing, electricity, heat etc, etc, and it was really falling apart! But my husband and I are both dreamers and fell in love with the home’s potential. We set to fixing it up ourselves and with the help of family, and it’s begun to take shape and feel like home, though not without some blood, sweat, and tears, to be sure. We wanted a home that would last forever, where we could raise our kids and grow our family, and we couldn’t have afforded a house like this had it been move-in ready. When our children are older, we hope to start a small family farm and work toward self-sufficiency on the land.
Then I hope you would also share about your life credo and what is it that drives you, be it from the outside of you -or inside of you in terms of beliefs and mindset in general?
In general, I’m an idealist. I’ve learned to practice gratitude and appreciate what I have now, and at the same time, my mind is always searching for what can be improved. I’m simply unable to live a life that doesn’t feel authentic.
The process of evolving and taking ownership of my dreams has been challenging for both myself and others, especially those close to me, but for better or for worse, I’m committed. My husband is the same way, which is why I think we make such a great team. We encourage each other and also hold each other accountable. We both value art and family above pretty much everything else.
And finally, I invite you to share your writing experience. Where did the desire to write come from?
Writing has always been how I express myself best and how I’m able to process the world. As a kid, I’d love to write little stories and keep meticulous journals, and eventually, I set my mind to a novel. I was 18 or 19 when I wrote the first, and a few years older when I wrote the second. At the time, publishing was less important to me than finding out if I actually could write a novel. Those early attempts taught me that it was possible, and also that writing could be a powerful way for me to process trauma. In both novels, the protagonist was a fictionalized version of myself. The first book helped me process my experience moving away from the religion I was raised in. The second one, another thinly veiled memoir, helped me heal after a challenging period of time when I was in college. My financial aid had been reduced during the recession, and I had to choose between dropping out or giving up housing. I decided to give up my dorm and was homeless for that semester while taking extra credits to graduate early and working multiple jobs. On the outside, I tried to appear a regular student and look rested and professional at my jobs. On the inside, I would always be wondering how I’d get my next meal, shower, and where I’d sleep that night. There was something about writing the story through the lens of my protagonist that made the whole experience feel OK. Then I took a break from novels for most of my twenties. Once again I was working several jobs and finding myself in survival mode. Money had always been tight for my family and I was used to working hard to support myself and help them. I babysat from 12 years on and I tutored throughout high school and bartended throughout college. Afterwards, I took some writing jobs but the payment was never enough to live on, so I often worked three or four jobs at a time and would rush from one to the next from dawn until sunset or later. When I met my husband, we were 25 and living in New York City. I became pregnant unexpectedly within a few months of our relationship beginning and that changed everything. I still knew I wanted to write one day, but that day was completely unknown and I chose to let motherhood become my new focus. It took a few more years of figuring out how we wanted to live, but eventually, I was able to stop working for other people and move upstate, a dream of mine since childhood. Also, for those who are interested in this sort of thing, I’m an INFJ and a Gemini, and I think those facets of my being play a part in my desire to write.
What was it that eventually made you choose to dive into your first novel?
Technically, I wrote my first novel when I was much younger, but I tend not to count the first two; as I said, they were more for practice, a way to test myself to see if I could actually write one, and for my own healing. On social media, when I talk about my first novel, I mean the first one I intended to publish, which I started at 29. And again, for those interested in astrology, I will say that I was going through my Saturn Return. I had made a lot of big life changes that year and leading up to it. I had just quit my job in the city after I was offered a salary I had never thought possible for myself, for a career that I really didn’t want a future in. My husband and I had moved out of NYC into our cottage in the woods, after a lifetime of trying to find a way out of the city. My son was three and we were beginning homeschooling. I had been working on several creative projects as much as possible, as I always would and continue to do. A few months before, I had released an e-course called Crafting a Sacred Postpartum, a work in progress for over a year. I had been trying to create regular content for Instagram and my blog.
I was taking a course on Wicca and deepening my spiritual awareness. It felt like I had tied up a lot of loose ends and manifested many long-term dreams. I still had and have a lot to figure out and work on, but I was no longer in survival mode. And…I don’t really know what it was exactly that made me decide to start a novel. It just felt like my next step. I missed writing. It’s what makes me feel most alive and aligned in so many ways. I think I just got sick of pretending it wasn’t also my dream. I can’t say I didn’t have doubts, but I will say that I didn’t allow myself to focus on them. I knew that if I did, I wouldn’t write the thing, let alone try to publish it. I just kept pushing myself and didn’t give myself time or space to entertain doubt (most of the time!).
I believe it would also be valuable to our readers if you revealed how it feels to not have your book published yet, and how do you handle rejections?
I am brave to ask this only bc you have so far been brave to talk about this, and I truly believe our readers would benefit from this honest insight as it may very well speak about something they fear themselves.
Rejections break my heart every single time. The heartbreak does become less intense over time, though. Now I expect the rejections. When I first started sending my query letter or manuscript out to agents, I was hopeful. I was proud of my novel. I thought I had written something that was unique and even marketable. And I had sacrificed a lot to do it. Somehow, I thought that all entitled me to have a relatively easy time finding an agent who would believe in my vision. I haven’t counted how many rejections I’ve received, but I’d guess somewhere between 70 and 100. A few of them hurt more than others. At the end of the day, I think I was overconfident. I had also spent a lot of time working on my Instagram, believing that more followers would make me more attractive to agents. I no longer believe that. Maybe it helps show potential readership and in my case, through my captions — my writing, but what I now believe matters most is the actual manuscript. It might have been in my best interest to spend less time taking photos and writing captions and more time working on my book. Overall, I look at this first novel as a grand learning experience. After taking time away from it, I can see the reasons why it might not be publishable, at least as it stands now. My heart does hurt to reflect on all the work I put into it, and I do spiral into a dark place at times, believing it was for nothing and that I’m not “good enough.” I wish I could share a happy ending with you and be more inspiring in that way. But the truth is, that novel still needs a lot of work, and when my heart is ready, I’ll go back to it.
Also, I imagine you are doing a great job ˝handling it˝ as you have already dived into your second book, which is one more reason why you are a perfect guest for this series of talks.
I had to get to a place where I realized that, while publishing is ultimately my goal, writing is when I feel most alive when time warps and I’m entirely myself and at peace. That’s really what drove me to begin a new novel. After time away from the first, I realized the faults in my plot. So, I took a course online in plot development, and feel infinitely more confident in what I’m outlining now for my next novel. I’ve formed connections with agents who, though weren’t a fit for the first, might be a fit for the second. Through Instagram, I’ve made friends with other aspiring novelists who might be wonderful beta readers in the future and who inspire me creatively. Everything happens for a reason. I learned a hard lesson, but I’ll never give up.