Friday, July 19, 2013

Come On, Baby, Light My Fire

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.~ E.L. Doctorow

A week ago, I had the opportunity to meet Kelly Oxford, author of Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar. Originally from Edmonton, she moved to Calgary (where I am located), and spent 10-ish years here before uprooting her family and moving to Los Angeles.

I really didn’t know much about Kelly, aside from a few tidbits. I hadn’t read her book yet, but a friend of mine had read it and said it was funny.  Anyway, something compelled me to go to the author meet and greet. It was time for me to take a closer look at what other authors do. I’m so glad that, after writing for 20 or so years, I’m finally taking it seriously.

The author talk and signing was at the Chapters/Starbucks location I always frequent to do my writing; so, it was a pleasant surprise when Kelly mentioned that she would always come to this particular location to write her book.  She explained to us how it all started for her: she started blogging from the dawn of the internet. From there, she tweeted. Her tweets were then noticed by a few well-known people, including Roger Ebert, Jimmy Kimmel, and Diablo Cody, and it went from there.

As she was saying all these things: how she’s a Canadian mom who frequents the Starbucks and writes, it dawned on me how some key areas in her life were similar to mine. I’m sure, at some point, we sat in the same area of Starbucks writing our books. The only difference: she believes in her words.

To make this much easier on my inner critic (who will chop this blog to pieces due to its awkward-ness) is what I concluded from the Kelly Oxford talk:

  • No matter how much time you spend writing at Starbucks or how many soy chai lattes you drink, if writing is important to you, you aren’t wasting your time. No regrets.
  • Your writing and your words are important. It doesn’t matter if your spouse/ex-spouse/family members/friends tell you that you are spinning your wheels, or if someone says it’s crap, what you’re doing is important to you.
  • Let the words flow and say it like you mean it.
  • When on social media, engage others by being personable. Don’t blast them with a product. By engaging others, they want to hear what you have to say. The more engaging and relatable, the more they will go searching the Internet for whatever else you might have to offer. You become a real person, not someone hiding behind the computer looking for sales.
  • Kelly doesn’t sugar-coat shit. She just says it as it is. She has found her voice. You should find yours. When you find your voice, make no apologies for it...the words will flow.
  • There are always going to be haters. Laugh them off and grow from them. You can’t please everyone.
  • Believe in your writing. Go after it like your life depends on it. Decide that you must write this book to prevent a zombie apocalypse.
  • Decide, with every part of your being, that your writing is important. (I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I can’t stress this one enough.)
  • Go out and hear what other authors have to say. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t read their work or if you barely know their story, it’s imperative that you get a different perspective.
  • Surround yourself with people who support you.

Pay no attention to what critics say; no statue has ever been erected to a critic. ~ Jean Sibelius

I’m a woo-woo type of person with her feet planted firmly on the ground...and I believe in synchronistic events; there are no coincidences in life. For me, meeting Kelly was important to my writing journey. Let’s just say that it lit a fire under my ass. 

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