I started interviewing various writers at every stage of their writing career in an effort to get to know all the different ways the journey towards publication and beyond can look. And I have had a blast doing it.
I interviewed published writers, writers whose books are coming out soon, writers who recently signed with an agent…and now a writer who is, in her words, a novice. I think this breadth has allowed me to not only meet some wonderful people with whom I share a deep passion…but also see the journey in all of its many many forms.
Today’s interview is with new writer, Laura Diamond. I met Laura the same way I meet most writers – through social networking sites like the QueryTracker Forum, RallyStorm and Facebook. What struck me about Laura was her authenticity – in her posts, in her comments and in her writing. I have no doubt that we will be seeing more from her in the years to come.
And without further adieu, here is my interview with Laura:
CF: Why did you begin writing?
LD: I’ve always had a love for books. In fact, I demanded my mother teach me how to read when I was three or four. I actually remember going to the store to get the workbooks—loved them! Well, as an adult, I decided to give writing a novel a try, partly to engage in the creative process, partly to express myself, and partly to challenge myself. Five novels later, I’m hooked.
CF: How long have you been writing?
LD: I hand wrote my first “novel” in a spiral bound notebook—Marvin the Martian was on the cover!—while in medical school. It was a historical “fairy tale” type story. Once finished, I set it on my shelf and thought, “Well, maybe someday…”
So, some day came about a year and a half ago. I “found” the Marvin notebook, typed up the pages, embellished the story, and ultimately completed it. The process sparked an idea for a sequel set in modern day times. Then it kind of spiraled out from there. With every novel I’ve finished, more ideas crop up, and I try to write something on a daily basis now to keep up with them.
CF: Tell me a little about your personal writing process?
LD: In the beginning, it was: Hey I have a week off, let’s do a lot of writing! Then I wouldn’t touch the thing for months. In the late summer of 2008, I picked the craft up seriously and have written daily since. On weekends, I go to a local bookstore and spend a few hours typing away on my laptop. During the week, I write after work. Though I have handwritten two novels, I prefer to type now—I’m faster at typing.
I tend to pound out a novel quickly, in a few weeks. I try not to force the ideas; they come naturally and I don’t fight them. Then I go back and smooth, smooth, cut, smooth, reorder chapters, smooth, smooth, smooth. (With the help of my fantastic and insightful beta readers, each one worth her weight in gold!)
CF: What is the hardest part aspect of being a writer?
LD: I have just recently started considering myself as a novice (meaning the next step up from beginner). I say that because I’ve learned exponentially since I’ve started this, with online studying, trading manuscripts with beta readers, learning how to critique (and how to take criticism), and with discussing writing with friends and fellow writers.
I come from a medical background, so I had to learn about the “techniques” from connecting with other writers online. Their advice has been invaluable. Now that I have some experience behind me, the process makes more sense. I’m at the point now where I’m ready to query my most recent WIP, but I’m quite nervous. There’s not a lot of positive reinforcement out there and you can get beaten down pretty quickly. It’s so disappointing to get a rejection, but at the same time, it is an opportunity to learn and grow.
CF: How do you manage to balance writing with other real-life things (like children, etc)?
LD: Well, I don’t have children to manage, but I do have a pretty demanding career in psychiatry—just worked 12 hours today actually, but writing has become a coping mechanism and an outlet for me, so it works well into my schedule. (And if it doesn’t, then I make it!) In fact, writing is a part of my day job, in a way. I’m involved in direct patient care and therefore do frequent evaluations that require pages long write-ups. I also teach resident physicians about preventative health and I’ve been involved in developing a training curriculum, as well as writing scenarios, scripts, mock patients situations, and lectures.
CF: Where do you find your inspiration?
LD: My dreams. Seriously, my first novel is based on a nightmare! Also, I think the subconscious/unconscious mind is a fantastic repository for creative ideas and so a lot of times I’ll let my brain simmer on an idea, and when it’s ready, it pops up of its own accord. It just doesn’t work if I force it. Makes utilizing outlines difficult, so I don’t use them, but I greatly admire people who do.
CF: What is the hardest aspect of finding an agent?
LD: Ack! I’m still looking! Um, because of my haste, I kinda goofed and queried way too soon for previous novels. (I was so excited and I had a lot to learn—bad combo…made me impulsive. * blushes *) Well, we learn by doing, but now I’m concerned that because of my foibles, my “big break” just won’t come. However, that sort of thinking doesn’t get me anywhere, so I go on, learning from my mistakes, and incorporating what I’ve learned to do things the “right” way. Though I’m nervous to get back out there, I’m excited too!
Long story short (oh, boy, need to rein in my babbling!), I’ve learned finding an agent is based on a lot of factors: Patience, knowledge, research, and LUCK! You have to hit the right agent at the right time with the right manuscript. I haven’t hit my triple 7’s yet, but am still hopeful.
CF: Is there any advice you would give other new writers?
LD: Always: KEEP WRITING! DON’T GIVE UP!
There’s a lot of rejection, but it only takes one to say, “Yes! Love it!” Don’t “write for the market,” or write to please other people. Do it because you love it. Do it because it makes you happy. Do it as an expression of your creativity.
CF: Tell us one random fact about you.
LD: I learned how to horseback ride on Thoroughbreds bought off the local racetrack. They are fast…and insane. Yes, I got hurt—because I didn’t know what I was doing. Similarly, I’ve gotten burned in the agent hunting game—because I didn’t know what I was doing. With both, I got back in the saddle, learned what I needed to do, and kept going.
CF: Is there anything else you would like my readers to know about you or your books?
LD: They were/are a total blast to write! The characters feel “real” to me and I miss them if I leave them alone for too long. I have written adult urban fantasy, paranormal romance, young adult paranormal romance, and young adult thriller novels. They are crafted with dedication and love. I have recently started a blog, based on writing, psychiatry, and my faith (http://lbdiamond.wordpress.com/ )