Friday, September 13, 2013

My advice

Hi, everyone!

On Monday, I had the great honor of visiting Professor Christopher Altman at Onondaga Community College and speaking to three of his English classes. Chris has just launched his own book through Kona Publishing, a lovely texbook called Myths We Learned In Grade School English. It's fabulous and available here:

Talking to the students was fun. They were very gracious and enthusiastic and seemed to very much enjoy the first chapters I read to them. I felt like I was able to put a human face on my books, to show them that someone like me, or like them, can pick up pen and paper (or computer and coffee) and write.

I have always said that if I can start writing books, anyone can. Trust me, if you put your mind to it, you can do it. But Professor Mohammad, one of Chris's colleagues who sat in on one of the classes, said that some people might think it's an impossible feat, perhaps because they don't think their writing measures up, or can't think of something to write about. Professor Mohammed suggested that not everyone could do something like I've done, so how could we (Chris and I) help people achieve their writing goals?

I was glad he asked that question, because it wasn't that long ago that I was a non-traditional, part-time college student myself. When I wrote my first three books (or four, I can't remember), I was working full-time and going to school part-time in addition to raising my family and singing in a band. Those were crazy times, and looking back on them, I'm not quite sure how we did it. I can say that we were concerned for a while that the dust bunnies were going to spring to life and try to take over. I can say that at the time, those book ideas consumed me, and I had to write them. I had to. It was something I felt so deeply, I couldn't not write.

So my answer to the professor was this: write what you are passionate about.

I was passionate about what I was doing because I was doing it to help my family. And I loved my characters, so it was relatively easy to take the leap and finish that first book.  But I know not everyone loves to read books, especially not romances or paranormal literary fiction. But some people love music, feel it in their bones, get transported by it to a happy place. So, if music is your passion, write lyrics.

Some people love sports, and color commentary, a sports blog, or interviews with your favorite local teams and/or players is a great way to infuse writing into everyday life.

Some people love movies, and feel they could have done a better job with the last blockbuster. So, write movies, screenplays, plays, dramas, whatever. Just write.

Passionate about cooking? Write a cookbook, or a restaurant review, or a food blog. Do you love comic books? There's a creative way to infuse writing into art, or vise-versa.

I hope I've shown you that the possibilities are endless. You don't have to be chained to writing books if it isn't your thing. You can write short stories, poems, novellas, serials, etc. Just write.

That's what I did, long before I started writing books. When I was young, I wrote short stories or essays. I wrote poetry. I started multiple books that remained unfinished for many reasons, but I wrote. Later, I wrote love letters to my husband. I wrote letters to stand up for causes. Whatever form of expression it was, it was writing. And one day, I had a book idea I could actually finish. So I wrote it. And I will continue to do so. Writing for me is a need as well as a desire. I want to leave my mark, so to speak. I want to inspire people, to make them think. I want to tell stories and share my imagination with the world. So I write.

And I couldn't have done any of this without my husband and kids. My family was an amazing support system for me, and they really enabled me to start my writing journey. They continue to be supportive, giving me the space I need to let my creative juices flow.  Without them, well, I'd have no reason to write. They sustain me, and I'm hoping one day my writing sustains us.

Go forth and seize your day. Live your dreams, and if you can't immerse yourself within them, at least take a moment each day to acknowledge them and take one step forward. Eventually, every single step will end up as part of your journey. Some steps are bigger than others, and some steps might be backwards. But merely standing up and trying to reach them is more than some people will ever do, so if it takes a bit longer than you want it to, pat yourself on the back for trying. Things that are moving slowly are still moving.

Hugs and love to each of you. You also sustain me, and I am so grateful that you've chosen to share my journey. Thank you.


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