LOGOS is proud to present Kathleen Sanders as the second feature for the Women’s History Month blog series. Her powerful short story, “Picking,” was published in LOGOS Volume 6 in Fall 2013. She was also an Associate Editor for LOGOS Volumes 7 and 8 and the Copy Editor for LOGOS Volume 8. Sanders provided lots of thought-provoking insight into how the intricate components of her piece continue to influence her own growth as a woman. She also discussed the ways in which her roles on the LOGOS team have closely connected with her professional career and beyond. Check out the interview below!
After graduating with her Masters in Writing in 2016, Kathleen Sanders joined Cerner Corporation in Kansas City as a Technical Writer. Now, she is a Solution Designer for pharmacy software. Sanders also volunteers with the Marketing Committee at Kansas City Young Audiences. Outside of her professional career, she fits creative writing into crevices of free time. Currently, she is dragging herself through the first round of edits for a novel. As she likes to describe the process, “It will only get better.”
Briefly describe the inspiration for “Picking” and the steps you took to create the piece.
You’re driving through western Kansas. The clock says time has passed, but everything more or less looks the same. Each hour seems to draw in the walls of the car. You look over as a sedan passes you. Two women are visibly arguing as the sedan speeds up. What are they so angry about? How must they feel? How are they communicating?
These were my questions while driving to Colorado, and I felt their tension snake from their car into my own. This feeling of tension, of pursuing a destination but feeling eternally far away, of emotional claustrophobia, guided “Picking.” This was the experience I chose when working on a literature assignment with Dr. Shannon Wooden. Side note: homework can make its way outside of the classroom walls!
Do you see relationships between women in a different way than when you initially created the piece? If so, describe how.
I think girls are trained — whether openly or, more commonly, through subversive societal influences — to strive for the appearance of perfection, which can be threatened if others surpass you. This is how I used to view other women as well as myself. If they gained, I lost. If they succeeded, it meant I had failed. I see this fear in “Picking.” The concept terrified me, just as it terrifies Jody. She sees Meg’s engagement as a threat to her thin connection with her son, and she channels that fear into competition. This piece still resonates with me today because I know that feeling.
When I consider Jody and Meg now, it strikes me as tragic that they fail to use this time to understand each other, to build trust and empathy, and to offer the support each of them need to embrace their imperfections. Maybe the failure of Jody and Meg prompts us to ask questions. How could they have navigated this conflict differently? How would I navigate it? Moving beyond competition to meaningful communication takes having the resolution to be brave, honest, and kind. This is something both Jody and Meg lack, and at the time I wrote the piece, I lacked it in many ways myself. But we all evolve.
So, seven years later, how do I see relationships between women differently today? More and more, I see them as opportunities to mutually thrive. Our journeys, conflicts, successes, and failures are enriched — not threatened — by the women in our lives. I’ve practiced honesty, bravery, and kindness more and more because of the women in my life. I strive to emulate them. I hope to be like them for others. We learn from each other. We support each other. We must be brave, kind, and honest for each other.
Were there any challenges you encountered while creating this piece? If so, describe how you overcame them.
Plenty! I didn’t want it to be “hero vs. villain” because that’s not true to life. Trying to balance the sympathetic qualities of both Meg and Jody was challenging. Neither woman is perfect. Both make digs at the other. Both love Zach. Both are figuring out how to navigate the change this engagement presents. How do you make abstract conflict and emotions concrete? For me, I used the metaphor of the driving route to make the interpersonal conflict more tangible.
Also, this was the first short story I workshopped and shared with others. Just that was challenging. It’s always going to feel personal, and sharing it always comes with some degree of vulnerability. I had to focus on what I ultimately wanted more than approval — to learn and to improve. On that note, I found it oddly helpful to remind myself: “This is the worst it’s going to be. It will only get better.”
Describe some of the skills you gained as an Associate Editor for LOGOS. In what ways have you applied them to your current professional role?
Supporting LOGOS as an editor was one of my favorite endeavors during my time at Missouri State University. Notably, it taught me a great deal about collaboration that I still leverage in my career today. As an editor, you help coordinate the creation and publication of the journal. Each issue of LOGOS doesn’t just get slapped together in a matter of weeks; it’s an endeavor spanning over multiple months and organized by the efforts of many individuals. Initiating conversations, guiding discussions, and following up as needed are valuable skills in which LOGOS helped me develop.
Another crucial element of collaboration is asking questions, which I think is an underappreciated skill in the workplace. Knowing what questions to ask and how to ask them moves projects forward, clarifies communication, and facilitates teamwork. I often work with unfamiliar subject matter in my career, which requires me to ask questions…a lot of questions. My work as a LOGOS editor helped me learn how to evaluate content and to be comfortable with reaching out to others.
Does the work that you do in your career field relate to themes that are relevant to Women’s History Month, such as gender roles within the community? If so, provide a specific example.
I work at a large healthcare IT company, and I am so proud to be a woman in STEM! I’m not nearly as technical as many of my team members — so no, I’m not a software engineer —but I started as a technical writer, documenting the software and programs used by pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. Now I work as a Solution Designer, supporting engineers by defining how our programs should function. Working in this field has been both challenging and fulfilling in ways I never expected, and I am so excited to be a part of it.
Check out Sanders’ full piece, “Picking,” in LOGOS Volume 6! https://www.missouristate.edu/assets/honorslogos/logos_vol6_full.pdf