Beautiful older woman smiling in an off-white sparkle dress

This women’s history month, I’m celebrating the woman who gave me creativity, imagination, and inspiration; my grandmother.



This post originally appeared on

This post was written for a prompt from another blogger in 2015, who asked me to share what I’ve learned from my grandmother that helps me in my writing. It was published on her blog during a series she did of celebrating grandmothers. I stumbled upon it today (I completely forgotten I had written it—that this post even existed), just three weeks after the passing of my grandmother.

It’s also day two of Women’s History Month. How fitting. In light of all of this, I wanted to share it on my own blog so the words could continue to live on forever.


From the original blogger, Leenna: “This week’s guest post is of special interest to writers and creatives. Katie McCoach wears many hats: developmental editorial coach, book reviewer, and writer. I’ve asked Katie to put on her writer’s cap for this post. Her brief: write about what you’ve learned from your grandmother which now helps you in your writing. It’s not a post every writer/editor would agree to do, so I was really, really glad that Katie obliged, making time for us in her hectic schedule–and in the most wondrous way! Here’s what she’s got for us. Just watch out for the trolls!”




My parents are CPAs. My mother, a tax accountant, and my father, a finance consultant.

And I am a fiction content editor.

I still count with my fingers and open the calculator app on my iPhone at the end of a meal at a restaurant, but place a novel in my hands and I’ll be itching to tell you about how the author swept me into another dimension (and yet, at the same time I’ll tell you how the author could have probably done X, Y, and Z to really bring out the protagonist’s transformation by the end of the novel).

In any given day I use my heart and gut to make decisions instead of numbers and facts.

But clearly this right-brain thinking didn’t come from my parents, so who did it come from? Where did I learn to be creative, and driven by story, passion, and emotion? I attribute this way of creative thinking to my grandmother, Annalisa (even her name sounds artistic, right?). Growing up, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a fair amount of time around my grandparents and they’ve influenced my life because of it. There are so many characteristics that make up my grandmother—and she’d probably shake her head at the one thing I’m focusing on for the sake of this piece—but one of the funniest things about Gram is her imagination.

That seems simple enough, really. Lots of people have an imagination. But my grandmother’s stories were always about something you wouldn’t expect. Although, a troll was usually worked in there. I’m not sure why, she just seemed to have a fascination with them.

In writing this article I remembered an essay I wrote in college about a family summer trip on the lake. I dug it up and I think this excerpt speaks well to who my grandmother is:

So, who wants to start the stories tonight?” Gram asked, looking around at everyone, her eyes landing on me.


I shook my head. “Not tonight.”


The fire cracked and popped as we all sat silently staring at the flames. My mom prodded the fire with a long stick, and my cousin ran around trying to find pieces of wood to throw in it—the pyromaniacs in the family were at work.


Alright, I’ll tell one then,” my grandmother spoke up, and we all laughed, as we knew she was going to anyway. “This one is about Alfred, the troll who lives under the swimming dock…” All of her stories were about trolls; I don’t know where she got these crazy ideas from. She always liked teasing us kids as we grew up, making up creatures or stories about things. She was what you could call eccentric, I guess. 

The way Gram told stories was silly and fun, and it always included something off-topic, which I realize now was to catch us grandkids off-guard. It worked too. If it wasn’t something she’d put in a story, it’d be something she’d say, such as how she would get her belly pierced that weekend or get a tattoo on her boob. Do all grandmothers try to gross their grandkids out?

But I think that is the beauty of my grandmother. Her creative side doesn’t have boundaries, instead it pushes them, and she creates her own. And as a result, that strange, unique view on life has trickled down to me, skipping a generation (my mother), and has given me the ability to think outside of the box. So, when a writer comes to me and asks for my help in developing their story, I am able to bring a unique, open view to the table and push ideas that either enhance the story or get the writer to come up with their own new ideas that they struggled to discover before. And yes, all of my ideas involve trolls. 😛

There are so many ways the people around us influence our lives, and Gram not only passed down her artistic genes to me, but she also encouraged me to see life outside of the box, and I aim to pass that on to others. Some things just need to be shared.

–End of original article—


The difference between that article from 2015 and today is that when I talk about my grandmother now, I’ll be using the past tense. Fortunately, I had thirty-two years to discover so much about myself through the existence of such an amazing, imaginative woman. Her soul may no longer be bound to the earth, but her memories, and physical writings of (and from) her life, get to live on forever.


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