Where Readers & Writers Connect
Trying to remember a time when reading and writing were not part of my life seems impossible. I started reading at age four and starting writing short stories in third grade. I knew early on that the words I shared could serve as an inspiration to others if I chose them well.
I dreamed of being a writer for many years, until someone told me writing was a hobby and not a career. Those few words tortured my dreams and forced them to crawl back and hide. I pursued a profession instead of a passion for many years, but words continued to be important in my life.
Reading allowed me to escape into a new world, live adventure and intrigue or discover something I never knew or understood before. Words created bridges that I crossed on a regular basis, and reading continues to motivate and inspire me to do and be more.
Life got in the way of my voracious reading habit. Chasing three active boys makes it difficult to get lost in a book. Changing directions can be a curious way for opportunities to open. In my case, I read an article about a competition for a community columnist in a regional paper. Winning that contest reignited the dreams that had been hiding in me for so long.
That’s great. How did you pursue your dream afterward?
Most writers (and want-to-be writers) that I know have that partial novel tucked in a drawer. I did. Writing a regular column inspired me to tackle that novel . . . or to at least poke and prod it enough to keep the embers alive.
My writing took an interesting turn when I started creating content for the internet. I had the opportunity to combine my love of research with my love of words and a new career was born. It was not my dream, but each day that dream stepped a little farther out of the shadows.
“Line upon line, precept upon precept.” That process works for everything from gardening, to raising children, to developing a writing career. Doing one thing can lead to the next, but getting to the next step will ALWAYS require action of some kind.
Writing content for others helped me launch my own websites. Developing articles that would encourage or help others filled my spare time. These words led me down another path that I had not been expecting. I started speaking to bible studies, conferences and other groups about the words that I had been writing.
When did you make the transition to print?
I packaged my web articles into booklets. Through the encouragement of friends and family, I expanded that first booklet into a book and “Practical Proverbs” was born.
At the same time my speaking career began, I found a new paper that launched in our community and approached the editor about writing articles. “Would you be interested in writing a regular column?” Sometimes the thing that you want surprises you. This regular column has allowed me to expand my speaking and also given me the materials to create three more books – “Journey through Reflections, Vol. I, II, and II.”
Personal issues required my attention. I had continued writing content for others on a limited basis even after our home was severely damaged by the tornadoes in April, 2011. My mother was placed in Hospice and died in March of 2012, which required time and energy to get her affairs in order and her stuff sorted. I quit writing for others and focused on my own family and my own writing.
So you’ve expanded your non-fiction endeavors. When did you make the transition to fiction?
My debut novel, RUN, started from that project hidden in the drawer for many years. I brushed it off and began to mold the words and the characters. It took countless drafts, a dozen read-throughs (including one where I read the entire novel to myself out loud), and multiple changes to get the book ready for launch. Going through those processes have helped me connect with my characters in new ways. These connections are providing the doors for more stories around these same characters – from short stories to new novel ideas.
Tell us more about Run.
RUN focuses on the struggles of Sara. Her husband was killed and now his unsolved murder has started causing her troubles in the life she is trying to build. Sara determines to answer all of the questions and follows her husband’s past all the way down to a small town in Alabama. There she discovers that facing the past sometimes requires digging up skeletons that might be easier to leave buried.
Sara’s story ended up leading me down another unexpected path. The Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative announced its inaugural writing contest. The idea was to combine literature and tourism and the location they chose was Moundville, Alabama. I have used Moundville in my non-fiction writing and felt like it would be a natural place to expand Sara’s story.
“Digging Up Bones,” was announced as the winner of the SELTI Writing Contest in May. It has been featured on their website and will be carried in regional papers. The more I learn about Sara and her life, the more I want to write about it. I care about this character and hope that my involvement in her life will help the readers to connect with her, and her friends, in their own personal way.
Wow. Do you have any advice for other up and coming writers?
Through all of the twists, I have learned that the key to a writing career lies in the writing. Words have to be a priority. If you don’t write, then you will have nothing to offer the readers. The second most important – and probably the toughest part of the job – is to edit (and then edit some more). Allowing someone else to have complete editorial control over the words prevents the writer from connecting in new and more interesting ways.
Kathryn Lang is the author of the debut novel we are featuring this week, Run. Look for an opportunity to win this novel tomorrow!