IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!
Your elusive creative genius | Elizabeth Gilbert
K.M. Weiland is an international bestselling author who writes speculative fiction from the confines of her Nebraska home. She’s my favorite author, not only because of her books, but also for giving back to the writing community tenfold. A kind, generous spirit, endlessly fascinating person and Jedi Master.
So I’ve taken it upon myself to present to you, the AWESOME award. Let it be known to all; that on this blessed day October 4, 2017, I bestow upon you the seal of awesomeness. May it be inscribed therein, and may you bear its signature all the days of your life in peace.
1. Name up to three things in homeschooling that helped shape you as a writer.
1. The extra time and flexibility to pursue extra-curricular activities—in my case, writing and producing a newsletter called Horse Tails, which gave me the opportunity to write hundreds of stories and articles and the discipline to create a consistent writing schedule from a young age.
2. Love of reading and learning. I worked well on my own, which made me very well-suited to homeschooling. It let me pursue my interests—particularly, history—at my own pace and, to some extent, tailor my education to my life goals.
3. Family support. My parents and siblings have been there for me every step of my writing journey, starting in my school years. They were always supportive and did everything they could to encourage and help me.
2. Describe your experience that lead up to writing a newsletter.
I’ve always made up stories, but I didn’t start writing them down until my siblings and I decided to form a family newspaper. They lost interest pretty quickly, but I was hooked! Eventually, I moved on to edit and publish Horse Tails, a small newsletter for youth, which I continued throughout high school.
3. What did writing mean to you at this point in your life?
On through high school, I viewed it merely as a hobby—a way to write down the stories I imagined, simply so I wouldn’t forget them. Up until graduation, I seriously thought I would be pursuing a career with horses. But then I began realizing I enjoyed staying inside to write more than I did going outside to ride.
4. What kind of feedback did you receive from family and friends?
Positive and constructive. I’ve been blessed to have few naysayers in my life. The people who are closest to me have always been my biggest fans and have encouraged me to explore my talents and interests.
5. Who were your role models? (Real or fictional)
It’s clichéd, but: Jo March and Anne Shirley. I read Little Women and Anne of Green Gables over and over as a child, and I have always resonated with the awe and wonder of these heroines’ imaginative coming-of- age stories.
6. If you could go back in time and give yourself advice what would you say?
Probably the biggest bit of advice I would offer would be to seriously consider where your writing will be in five years if it succeeds. By that point, for me, many of the decisions I made in the beginning were too difficult to change. I wish I’d spent more time considering my blog title, url, publishing platform (Blogger, WordPress, etc.), subscription options, all that stuff. You don’t want to have to make major changes down the road that might undo some of your hard work in building a following.
You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?
Becoming a writer was a natural progression of my professional life. I have a liberal arts degree majoring in English and Psychology before training as a high school English and Guidance teacher. After that I moved into Adult Education in which I hold a Master’s Degree.
I worked at the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa) teaching academic writing before embarking on a project in the arena of HIV and AIDS, a devastating pandemic affecting many people in Southern Africa.
After a three year period of travelling the country, the UICEF and Department of Social Development initiative ran its course and I was at a crossroads. I was processing experiences of working in semi-rural environments with people who had very different social practices and cultures. I decided these, with a bit of flair and a stretch of the imagination, would make good stories.
I really appreciate your kindness in helping others. Education at necessary at every stage in life. Very unique.
What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?
I began to write to make sense of aspects of life that affected or concerned me. I had been a social activist and was worried about many issues such as the instability of southern Africa and how this feeds into the exploitation of women and children (sex trafficking). I had witnessed the downward spiral that accompanies drug addiction, and I wanted to write novels that exposed the harsh realities of life to sensitise people towards these conditions and to increase tolerance and understanding. Wrapping them in the guise of fiction in a gripping psychological thriller was one way I thought would make them more palatable.
Writing, for me, is therapeutic and is a way I can release my creativity. It is something my soul demands I do. It gives me tremendous pleasure and, at times, a fair bit of pain too!
Wow. That’s a great way to release your creativity, Sarah. These are harsh realities the world has to deal with, but ‘m glad your muse has found an outlet to tackle them! I have tons of books to read but I’d like to make room for yours as well.
What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)
I have completed all of my projects so far. My debut novel, Tangled Weeds is a stand-alone book and currently I have almost finished The Starlight Tide, the final book in my Sisters of Light trilogy, This follows The Dandelion Clock and The Butterfly Wind.
I have been writing since 2011 and, although I could have written faster, I have not put myself under creative pressure. Life gets in the way of art at times and I have been involved in raising our two daughters and have family responsibilities. At stages I have had a mini crisis of faith but I am doggedly determined and once a book is begun am driven to complete it.
Life does certainly get in the way at times. Much too often in my opinion, but I admire your determination! Once we start something it must be finished. That’s the way it ought to be.
What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)
Writing is my life’s purpose at the moment and that passion goes a long way to keeping me motivated. There is nothing better than seeing your book published with your name on the cover.
I have a highly active imagination and a plethora of ideas. Once a setting and a cast of characters invade my mind I am under siege! My characters develop through my stories; they evolve or devolve as the case may be. The moral dilemmas they face are of particular interest to me. I believe that good must triumph over evil and there is always a chance of redemption. I think that this message of hope must be offered to readers in these challenging times.
YES, I love it! Purpose and passion are two big motivators for anyone. I love the imagination of authors! It keeps me turning the pages coming back for more. Can’t wait to read your books.
What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?
One can always find excuses that delay or sabotage dreams.
This game can be overwhelming and doubt destructive. I am fortunate that I have a husband who supports me and my work, which is a huge factor. I have also learnt that it is more important to live modestly and do what makes you truly happy.
Your statements rings so true. Excuses, doubt, and lack of support all are formidable opponents.
Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?
There are so many answers to that question. Writers often feel lonely and have no support. They cannot pay the rent by writing. Insecurity about the quality of their work shuts down their imagination and they run out of ideas and cannot finish their stories. They read other people’s books and feel inferior and are rejected too many times by publishers and/or their confidence is eroded by unfavourable reviews. They are overwhelmed by the fact that writing is the easy part of the job and the rest is too great a mountain to even attempt to summit.
This is a great list. An accurate one too! This is one of my favorite responses to this question.
What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?
Write for yourself. Write for personal satisfaction and mental gymnastics for your brain. Appreciate that writing is not easy. Some days you strike the keyboard with smug satisfaction and other days you sit tormented and tearful. Try to get into a routine of writing every day – even if it’s just for twenty minutes, The more you practice the better you’ll get.
Like everything in life, you have to deeply desire the final product and realise that it takes a lot of effort, sweat and tears. Finish what you start. It gives you a great sense of accomplishment. Writing teaches you discipline and courage and these attributes will stand you in great stead throughout your life.
Find a writing group or a mentor. Use social media to link to like-minded readers and writers – there are a gazillion out there. Writers are kind; they form communities and nurture and support each other.
Excellent! Medicine for the weary!
What else do you have coming down the pike?
Once I have completed my trilogy, I plan to write a novel highlighting the plight of rural girls in South Africa.
From the coastal city of Durban, to rural hills outside Ixopo, to smoky Alexandra Township and the posh suburbs of Johannesburg, Veils of Smoke will follow Nonhlanhla Biyela on a dangerous undertaking to try to locate her missing cousin, Sinazo.
Wonderful. Keep us posted on the third installment and the next novel. Would love to see how it pans out.
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