Lionel Ritchie tells Berklee College of Music grads: ‘Tell the World What They Need to Know.” Todd Rundgren adds: “The most important thing you can take advantage of in the world of music is to see yourself. I eventually got to the point where music meant self-exploration [to me] more than anything else.” (For inspiration from Mary Gauthier, read Letter to a Songwriter on the front page of this site.)

My writing and music journey has been exactly that – exploration of who I am through my novels and songs. It all started when my husband’s adopted niece said, “I guess I’m not a mistake after all.” For awhile, she turned away from God because, “How could God allow me to be abandoned like that?” She has since married, had a son, met her birth family, and returned to church.

Having grown up believing the man I called dad was my father until a cousin spilled the beans, I know exactly how she felt. Just this morning, my husband and I were talking about something and he said, “That sounds like a Kathy Holmes,” and I said, “I still look around to see who you’re talking to when I hear the name ‘Kathy Holmes.’ ”

It’s been 15 years Memorial Day weekend since I met my father and, subsequently, used my birth name as my pen name/songwriter name. I’m still not used to identifying that name with me.

I wrote the story of that journey in Myths of the Fatherless, and that’s often the underlying theme in my novels like Real Women Wear Red and Letters on Balboa Island.

I started writing songs like Advocates in Heaven, You Never Looked at Me That Way, and Half Sisters (Can’t Be Trusted). I’ve started working on an album called Fathers and Other Strangers.

None of this is what the world wants to hear, but it is what the world needs to know. And that’s what I’m driven to tell. That’s our job as writers and songwriters.

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