This will be my fourth interview with an author who started a writing life in their second act, and there is one message that grows increasingly loud and clear: there is no such thing as “too late”.
The only way it’s “too late” is if you decide that for yourself; we make our own truth.
As Lisa says, “Write from your truth and don’t second guess yourself.”
Those aren’t empty words for her; as you’ll see, it’s what she lives.
About your book
T.O. When you first tell people about your novel, how do you describe the story?
L.T. It’s a coming of age story about a sassy and resilient nine year old named Zora. The story tells how she deals with the loss of her beloved father, and the abuse she receives at the hands of almost everyone else in the world, including her own mother.
T.O. It sounds like a powerful story. What message would you like your readers to be left with when they’ve finished reading your novel?
L.T. I want them to know you can beat any obstacle you face in life as long as you have faith and love.
T.O. I can’t help but wonder about your protagonist’s name. Do you want readers to make a connection between her and the writer Zora Neale Hurston?
L.T. My protagonist was named to honor Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes. There are some similarities between my character and the author: they both love writing, they’re both from the South, they both have strong spirits, and they are both black females. But, just to be clear: the story is in no way based on Zora Neale Hurston’s life.
Your publishing story
T.O. How did you decide to self-publish?
L.T. I knew I needed to share this story with the world, but I did not want to wait years for my dream to come to fruition. Self-publishing seemed like the way to go.
T.O. What has been your greatest challenge with self-publishing?
L.T. Being a first time author, I had no idea where to begin. I was on my own and had to rely on the expertise of the Internet, online courses and social media groups for the information I needed.
T.O. Where did you begin? Is there a particular resource or group you would recommend for a writer just starting out?
L.T. The only place I knew to begin was Google. I did a lot of research and found a ton of information out there. CreateSpace has great information on their site, but you have to have an account to get the full benefit. I also recommend the online education site, Udemy. They have courses for almost anything you have questions about, at very reasonable prices. There are even some that are free. Youtube is also a good resource for free online seminars.
T.O. You and I “met” through an interview that you had on Nadine Tomlinson’s blog. Have you found that to be the best way to find your readers so far?
L.T. Blogging has been a great way to obtain an audience. When I started my blog, which is how I met Nadine, I had no idea I would meet so many interesting people. I also found social media to be a great place to find readers.
Your writing process
T.O. In the year that it took for you to write your novel, what have you learned about yourself?
L.T. I learned I was more business minded than I thought. I had been in the business world for a number of years and was always unhappy in that world. Self-publishing took me back to that world and I guess the lessons I learned all those years stuck. I found myself using techniques that I learned in the corporate world.
T.O. What do you feel you’ve learned about writing a novel that will make the process smoother for you next time?
L.T. Once the writing is done, the work really begins. I kept notes on the processes and procedures in a journal, in case I need them for the next book.
T.O. That sounds like a neat idea. Do you mean the processes and procedures following the first draft?
L.T. Yes, I felt like I needed to have a reference for where I went to find information on formatting, or what marketing techniques I used and those that I eliminated. I’ll need this information in the future to gauge what worked or not.
T.O. Now that you’ve been through the whole process, what advice would you give a writer just about to start their first novel?
L.T. I would advise first time writers to simply write and not to second guess themselves. Trust your first mind and go with it.
L.T. I left the corporate world behind to live my dream of writing. I found I was stressed out in that environment and felt suffocated. The only reason I stayed was for the money.
Once I realized there were some things money could not buy, like peace of mind, I discussed leaving my job with my husband. I am so blessed to have such a loving and supportive man in my life. He did not make it difficult for me, so the choice was easy to make.
T.O. There has recently been much discussion about making a living and the writing life, all triggered by a Salon article by Ann Bauer in which she discusses being “sponsored” by her husband. Some people were really angry about it. Here’s one quote: “As someone who makes her living writing, I have a lot of very big issues with this article. I am not sponsored by anyone. I don’t have a trust fund, I am single, I have rent and bills … Articles like this smack of guilt to me.”
How would you respond to that?
L.T. Everyone has their own view of the world and how things should be.
First, I would never label my husband a “sponsor”. He is very supportive and my biggest cheerleader, but to say he is a sponsor implies a business relationship and that’s not what we have. I am completely in love with him and would never want to reduce his role in my life in that way.
Second, as far as people having an issue with how others get their support, to me it is the same as a house wife being supported by her husband. Money is a touchy subject, especially where strangers are concerned. I don’t think anyone can be judged by a personal decision made within a marriage. I try not to concern myself with other’s finances. You never know someone’s struggle, so they shouldn’t be judged from the outside looking in. I say kudos to those who don’t need to work as hard, and more power to them. They should not feel guilty for being better off than someone else. I see it as a blessing.
T.O. I’ve heard other writers who first publish a little later in life say that their work is better for it, largely because of the additional life experience they bring with them. Would you say that’s true for you as well?
L.T. I would agree with that. It took me a long time to realize that writing was what I was supposed to be doing. I feel we all do things in our own time and things happen when they are supposed to. If you rush into something it never works. I needed the time to grow as a woman and observe the world around me with open eyes. If I had started writing earlier in life, I probably would have never completed my first novel.
T.O. Did you ever wonder if it was “too late”?
L.T. I do not ever put a limit on myself. I am a praying woman, and I know as long as I am still breathing, it is never too late!
Lisa, thank you so much for visiting Never Too Late To Write.
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