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Karla Knutson and her process writing “My First and Only”

Karla Knutson is an associate professor of English at Concordia College. She composed an article on parenthood and stigmas that surround the number of children in a family. The article is called “My First and Only: Dealing with Assumptions of Regret about Family Size.”


Rachel Hauschildt: What can you tell me about your article?

Karla Knutson: The article that was just featured on CobberNet is an article that I wrote almost a year ago in November 2020 and submitted for an edited collection with Demeter Press. Demeter Press is a feminist press focused on motherhood studies. I attended their conferences and then looked for some of the opportunities they have. There was a call for papers on maternal regret.

I read the description of the collection and about how regret is a taboo to talk about. I started thinking about how I don’t have regret, but people assume I have regret. I have run into small encounters with people that think just having one child means I might regret not having more or that I don’t love my child enough. There’s an assumption that is like, “Aren’t you enjoying yourself? Why don’t you have more?” and “If you love your child, you would have more children.” I started thinking about that, and I thought I have a very interesting take on this because other people assume that I have regret and yet other mothers who may actually regret having a child are not allowed to talk about that.

RH: What is the most enjoyable part of the writing process?

KK: The most enjoyable thing came after the blurb was featured on CobberNet. So many people reached out to me. I received a number of emails and stops in the hallway by people saying, “I have an only child. This is interesting. I would like to read this article.” Other people said, “I have an only child. I have experienced what is described in the abstract. I would love to read the article.” Other people said, “I am an only child. I would love to read the article.”

Karla Knutson, professor of English. | Rachel Hauschildt

So I have shared some versions of this article with the people who reached out and I have received the most poignant responses from them afterward. Reading about how my contribution can influence their life in some way is— I am overwhelmed and humbled that I can help to help them reflect on something because this is something that has meant so much to me. I tell my writing students, ‘write about something that matters to you and hope that you make a contribution.’ Actually hearing something from an audience is the most rewarding feature of the publication process that I have ever experienced. That is one of the reasons why I like writing. I like researching to contextualize experiences that I have, to ask questions about things that I encounter or things that affect me, and even though this is not a first-person essay, in any way; this is something that has come from my life. I’ve started asking questions about the experiences that I have and doing research. I am so glad that this kind of research has helped other people understand things that are going on in their life as well. I know that it has helped me to synthesize and process and think about what to do next. I am really grateful to hear from people who have been interested. 

RH: Is there anything you would change about the writing/publishing process?

KK: No, this has been a good publishing process. I really like working with Anne O’Reilly. I think she is an excellent editor, researcher and writer. The article came together very well and very quickly too. For all of us, sitting down and actually doing it is always the hardest part and also the most exciting because you are really in the throes of writing something. You are thinking about it 24 hours a day. When you are doing other things. It is so satisfying to then send something off that you poured so much of your energy and heart and soul into. So much hard work and then to send it off and then to get an excellent response from the editor is, again, one of the best rewards. I am more energized when I get something back.


“My First and Only: Dealing with Assumptions of Regret about Family Size” will be published in a collection by Demeter Press this July.

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