Kristin Bartley Lenz, LMSW is a writer and social worker who has lived in Michigan, Georgia, and California. Her debut young adult novel, The Art of Holding On and Letting Go, was a Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize winner, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and an honor book for the Great Lakes Great Books Award statewide literature program. Her writing has been published in a YA poetry anthology (Rhyme & Rhythm: Poems for Student Athletes), The New York Times, Writer's Digest, Hunger Mountain, Lunch Ticket, Michigan Reading Journal, Great Lakes Review, Literary Mama, Women On Writing, The New Social Worker, and more. She placed second in the 2019 National Poetry Contest for Social Workers and completed the Creative Writing Workshop for Social Workers at the University of Iowa School of Social Work. She also writes freelance for Detroit area nonprofits, teaches creative writing for teens and adults, and escapes to the woods and lakes in northern Michigan whenever she can.
Author photo by Amy Kimball.
Author photo by Amy Kimball.
The Intersection of Social Work and Writing:
I chickened out of majoring in English at the University of Michigan. I loved to read and dreamed of being a writer, but I was afraid. Afraid I wasn't good enough. Afraid that no one would be interested in what I had to say. Afraid I had nothing to say. Afraid I wouldn't be able to support myself on a writer's salary. I chose one of my other interests, psychology, and then went on to get a master's degree in social work from Wayne State University in Detroit.
Not that I had any allusions about making a great salary as a social worker, but I had stability, variety, flexibility, and the opportunity to help people - a way to contribute to making our world a better place. Social work was a detour on my writing path, but it greatly expanded my worldview. Honestly, it blew the doors off my safe, sheltered childhood and plunged me into real-life stories of hope and despair, triumph and heartache, pain and resilience.
I worked at a runaway shelter and counseling center in Michigan, a mental health clinic and schools in Georgia, a program for children with developmental disabilities in California, and a children's hospital/home-visiting program back in Detroit.
I loved connecting with people and learning their stories. But I soon realized I was nearly the only social worker in existence who liked paperwork. I looked forward to the end of my work days when I could hunker down in my office and write. Essentially, I was writing people's stories in the form of assessment reports and progress notes. And I began to remember my dream of being a writer. Finally, I had something to say.
So here I am at the intersection of social work and writing. Please take a look around, read my writing, and send me a message - I'd love to hear from you.
Thanks for visiting!