On August 20th, I was “interviewed” on The Celtic Lady’s Reviews.
I’ve included her questions and my responses below. I struggled with these because there isn’t a “one size fits all” answer to them, but there you have it. I wasn’t very good at multiple choice questions in school, either.
What do you find most challenging about the writing process, and how do you deal with it?
Negative self-talk coupled with old stories is usually my biggie. I had to confront and manage these stories, or I’d get stuck and wouldn’t make progress. Writing really poked at those tender places, and I wasn’t writing anything personal or even “close to home”! I was forced to look at what I was carrying around and eliminate the hindrances, especially when the voices became very opinionated and loud. I have a chatterbox in my mind that can be very mean and nasty. She’d never say those things to other people yet has no problems smack-talking me. The old stories are like programs running in background—I don’t always realize that it’s the old stories trying to run the show. Sometimes, I just have to stop, take a breath, and shake it off because I recognize I’m in story. I remind myself that these thoughts came from somewhere else, are not mine, and certainly aren’t true. I also have to stop the negative self-talk, reframe the story, and speak nicer to myself. Whether easily recognized or cleverly disguised, stories are tricky and have to be dealt with. When it’s trickier, the layers need to be peeled back and questions asked. I have to keep digging to the heart of the matter. At the core, I find it’s usually fear or lack of self-trust. Depending on how hard the feelings hit, I can either brush them off, giving them the pfft, nice try, or take slow, deep breaths, and walk away from my desk for a bit. The key is acknowledging them and taking control of the story I tell myself in that moment.
When and where do you do your writing?
I work at my desk, every weekday morning. My desk faces a big bookshelf, next to a giant picture window looking out on the front yard. I tend to look out the window while I’m thinking and bird watch. On Instagram, I’ve posted pics of birds from that window, as well as the bookshelf itself. That bookshelf represents good things coming out of disasters—we had a pipe in the wall burst, flooding our office and living room. There was some necessary construction that I enhanced.
I try hard to keep my mornings scheduled as writing time. If I have to switch because of appointments and classes that can’t be rescheduled, I just schedule writing later in the day. I’m usually at my best in the morning. However, there are some seasonal shifts in my writing time which I didn’t realize I was making until I started tracking it. I went through a period of late afternoon/early evening writing about mid-way through this novel. I really think that was my body mimicking a schedule that I’ve had for so many years during the fall months. It was interesting to notice. When winter arrived, it was back to business as usual.
A random element of my writing is my notebooks and notecards. I have a bunch spread all over the house and multiple in my bag. All sorts of ideas, thoughts, and single words come to me—with or without context—and I want to capture them because I don’t always remember. Using paper is important because I look at it randomly, seeing it with fresh eyes, which either sparks new ideas or gives depth to the existing ones. Colored ink is key for that process. Some of the ideas I had while writing The Reluctant Bandit became material for other books in the Lawlessness & the Law series. I didn’t plan to write a series, either.
What have you learned about promoting your books?
I’ve learned a lot of tidbits and kept mulling this question over. I finally decided to share some bullet points:
- Be vulnerable and do it.
- Growth is necessary. Find the feel good in the uncomfortable growth.
- With that said, there’s an undesirable discomfort—it’s when you aren’t being “natural” or true to yourself. Trying to fit it or follow overly stringent rules because “that’s how it’s done” makes me miserable. Avoid that—it’ll probably make me happier.
- Promoting can be harder than writing if I overthink it, see above, so I need to give up what I think it “should” look like and be open to possibility. Everyone’s promotion is going to look differently.
- No matter how much I like to hide or watch, I still have to present myself if I want to share. Keep open to possibility. It’s about the perspective I bring to promotion: “presenting” myself vs. “exposing” myself. There’s a very different feel to those words—I need to remember to choose the empowering, feel-good words to guide myself. It reduces the struggle and a bit of the fear.
- I’ve had to give some new things a whirl—things I’ve avoided such as being more visible as well as vocal on social media. Promoting my books is also about promoting myself, and that can create a lot of angst. Even knowing that I am not my book.
- Growth is uncomfortable but we still get to do it, or we remain stagnant. Stagnant creates its own world of hurt. That doesn’t sound fun, especially since I’ve worked hard and created something that was fun, I love, and want to share.
- Why bring the wrong energy to the party? With that said, it’s still a process for me.
What are you most proud of as a writer?
In this moment I’d have to say overcoming my usual roadblocks that try to keep me safe and small—I decided that I was going to write for myself and found a way to make it happen. I kept my nose to the grindstone and had fun while doing it. It’s never been a chore—even the fear-provoking marketing. I have thoughts and ideas that I’d like to share—it’s okay to want to share them.
I held myself accountable by keeping to my schedule, believing in my ideas, and seeing this process continually through from beginning to end. I tend to procrastinate and put other things to the top of the list before myself. Once I finally decided I was going to do this thing and fully committed, I did it. It was very liberating. I said “yes” to myself. Once I did that all sorts things fell into place for me and felt “right.”
If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?
If social conventions were off the table and there was free discussion, I’d dine with Oscar Wilde. He has an astute take on life and has crafted some fabulous and witty characters. I find him fascinating. I’d want to know what life was like for him and if he had any regrets. I’d also want to talk about his relationships, fame, notoriety, and his subsequent abandonment by friends and family. How did all that feel, and what did he think about while in prison? I’m curious, and I kind of cringe thinking about how rude these questions may be. They have to be painful topics, yet I’d really like to hear what he has to say and how deep he’ll go with it. Or would he deflect with witticism