I was tagged by two lovely writers, @constantvoice and @ewiggins66, to answer the following questions from Nicolette Elzie’s blog.
When did you first start writing?
Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?
I always dreamed of becoming a writer. Before I could read, I'd memorized the books mom would read to me, reciting them accurately page by page, and had a handful of relatives convinced that I was some kind of reading progeny.
Once I was able to write full sentences, I immediately started writing stories based on my dreams, which were mostly dark and terrifying. I love reading them all these years later, awful spelling errors and all.
Truthfully, I never thought myself capable of finishing a full manuscript. I'm so thankful that I took time out of the daily grind to pursue my passion, and am still a bit in shock that I did it and accomplished my goal. I'm now filled with the motivation to keep writing, especially large projects, and the knowledge that dreams are possible to achieve.
What genre do you write?
I am drawn to the darker side of fiction, and to creating characters that are neither all good nor all bad, but illustrate the complexity of human nature. Even the seemingly most evil human being is capable of compassion. We are all raw and imperfect. I struggled to decide what genre to tackle as my first full-length manuscript, ultimately landing on memoir, as my own inner child character was screaming the loudest for release.
Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress?
When did you start working on this project?
I have a few things in the hopper. I started a six month sabbatical from my day job at the end of March, 2015, to complete my first memoir manuscript, Cherry Lane, illustrating the impacts of domestic violence, mental illness, sexual abuse, and addiction on families. I queried one agent based on #pitmad, a Twitter pitch party, and received the most complimentary rejection I could have ever imagined. It was my first rejection, so I am thankful for how gentle she was after having read the manuscript in its entirety.
I'm currently awaiting feedback from beta-readers, then will be completing another round of revisions before putting final touches to the manuscript over the next few months. I've compiled a list of agents actively seeking memoir, and will start querying once Cherry Lane has been polished to a gleaming shine.
In the meantime, I've started a second memoir, tentatively titled The Brownout Years, depicting my spiral into escapism as I ran from the traumas of my childhood at a breakneck speed into my twenties.
I am also collaborating on a secret project with the talented @constantvoice, although it is moving slowly due to my struggle to find a creative balance since returning to the demanding corporate machine. But I am so excited about this endeavor! And I guess it isn't such a secret project any longer... ;)
What’s the best part about writing?
Ultimately, manifesting the wisdom we carry deep inside of us. There is something other-worldly about bringing those enlightening words to the page, and then rereading them days or weeks or months later... like stumbling upon a stranger's musings. Surely I didn't write these things?
What’s the worst part about writing?
For me, it is the inspiration that comes at the most inopportune moments. I'll find my creative mind wandering while I'm lost in a task at work, and beyond capturing the ideas on post-it notes, I truly can't dive in to the moment. Truth be told, it's nearly impossible to remember what the hell was swirling around in my mind hours or days later when I read that silly note. This is exactly why I took time off to write — it's the only way I knew I could finish something I'd started, and allow myself to be at the will of my creativity during the process.
What’s the name of your favourite character and why?
Gentle, from Clive Barker's Imajica, because, I mean, come on... it's brilliant!
How much time a day/week do you get to write?
When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?
Mornings are my favorite time to write, starting around 9 a.m., after I've had a cup of coffee to kickstart the creative cogs in my brain. Then I can be happily lost in the spinning of words for the next two to four hours. Six hours would be a very productive writing day for me.
At this moment in time, I'm struggling to find the energy to write, and I am feeling internally critical regarding my inability to manifest balance. I won't detail the conversations I'm having while beating myself up about it, but suffice it to say I'm harder on myself than anyone else could ever be, and that, coupled with an edge of stubbornness... well, I will kick my own ass into gear here very, very soon.
Did you go to college for writing?
I did take a few classes while deciding on a major. Initially, I went to college for Journalism, then switched to Design Communication, and, ultimately, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Oh, youth. I've also taken numerous continuing education writing courses here and there throughout the years.
What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors or grammar errors?
I am obsessed with the Oxford comma, and, therefore, am struggling not to add a comma in the above question. Ha! In all seriousness, what bothers me most are my own spelling and grammar errors that my mind corrects for me each and every time I read my work — it's amazing how much work your brain does to make you see things the way you want to — then beta-readers point out the mistakes and I'm embarrassed yet eternally grateful!
What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?
"The first draft is just you telling yourself the story." — Terry Pratchett
What advice would you give to another writer?
Prepare yourself for a humbling journey, but be arrogant enough to start it.
What are your favourite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?
Twitter has been a surprising [to me] wealth of shared knowledge. I find fellow writers' blogs incredibly helpful as they illustrate the editing journey, pointing out things I would have never thought of on my own. That being said, here is a short list of editing resources I use:
The Writer Practice
The Beauty of Words
The Write Life
Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?
I love reading [obviously!], traveling, hiking, camping, road trips, painting, daydreaming, spending time with loved ones [humans and furry friends], trying new recipes while drinking wine or enjoying a fancy craft cocktail, getting myself worked up about social injustices, and imagining how I might someday be able to make a difference in the lives of children facing traumatic experiences they should not have to fight on their own.
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
I can't pick just one, so here's my top three that I've read this year: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, House of Stairs by William Sleator, and Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorious.
What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?
The Martian was fantastic, and it inspired a landscape in my mind for a novella in progress.
What is your favourite book or series of all time?
Of all time? Imajica by Clive Barker. I was instantly enamored with the characters and the complexity and beauty of the story. I became so enthralled, I dropped my Philosophy course in college to finish reading the 800+ page behemoth. That, and I have a beautiful tattoo on my forearm based on the cover art by Clive himself.
Who is your favorite author?
Again, too difficult to pick just one. Anne Rice, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Brett Easton Ellis, Jack London, John Steinbeck, Nasdijj, and Alice Walker, to name just a few.
What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?
Complete revisions on Cherry Lane. Complete first draft of The Brownout Years by the end of November for NaNoWriMo [I always set such lofty goals]. Complete first draft of not-so-secret novella project with @constantvoice — yet to be titled.
Where else can we find you online?