Interview 1: Advice to Writers

IMG_5752How did you become a writer? I first started writing in the third-forth grade. The teacher use to have all the students’ journal about how our weekends were or how our current day was. I went home and made my own journal, writing about whatever thoughts or dreams would come to mind. Writing book reports during elementary school and in middle school was always fun to me because having to use my imagination as I read of what the characters might look like since pictures weren’t an option at times.

I enjoyed reading various different books that helped me to create the type of writer I thought I could possibly portray. I would read thriller and suspense and try to mimic those types of genres. I realized those types of genres just weren’t working for me. So I continued to journal all the time about my life about other peoples lives, about things of interest to myself. One of my favorite movies back then and still is today, Great Expectations, with Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke. Well I liked the movie so much I wrote down all my favorite lines taking up all of 16 pages of notebook paper. After that I realized that just maybe I could write 16 pages and enjoy it using my own imagination to create my own stories.

One day back in 2003 and started creating, at the time what I thought was just a simple story with no real goal at the end. I would carry around a notebook and people watch taking notes of mannerisms, how people walked, how people touched one another or things, how people interacted with one another. I found it easier to develop characters as I used my imagination to create this factitious world, which was so very refreshing and I couldn’t stop. One year in my English class I had accidentally left a few pages of the work I was creating in my essay that was to be turned in and graded. Once returned, the teacher wrote on my story that I should look at trying to enter my work into the English Departments writing contest. Since I was self-conscious about my writing and was scared if anyone would really be interested in reading anything I wrote. I never entered the contest, but kept writing in my free time.

Name your writing influences( writers, books,teachers, etc) There are many influences but my main influence happens to be the physical life experiences that have happened directly or indirectly to myself. Certain types of music influences how I create a certain scene and how I see it develop.  One of the major influences that played a major role in my life was my Grandmother, Sister Minnie Bell Harris. She was a very influential and prolific speaker and writer who helped shape me into enjoying the art of writing.

When and where do you write? When I use to commute and ride the BART I would usually take the time out to type on my computer in the morning, that’s where I usually got most of my material from watching the interaction between people. Now I write at night where I feel more focused in my office.

What are you working on now? I’m currently working on my first novel When a Moment Comes, fiction. A young woman searching for love, coming to terms with abandonment issues when she was a child and addressing those issues as an adult so it doesn’t continue to filter into her personal, professional and love life.

Have you ever suffered from writers block? Of course, there are many days where I don’t want to write at all.  Finding it difficult to write about anything, struggling to come up with a decent scene to write, or trying to come up with any thought at all. Then there’s the worse thing that sometimes happens when I’m just not even motivated for long periods of time. So I have to sometimes pull myself out of whatever I’m going through run through pages and words to get myself refocused and regain that motivation.

What’s your advice to new writer’s? Don’t write to get published, write because you’re madly and deeply in love with writing, because if getting published is your main goal, you will probably be highly disappointed. Perfect your craft first! Also to become a brilliant writer you must read every day, from newspapers to novels and books that you would normally never read. When reading anything I’m always annotating, underlying words and sentences that draw me in, or drawing squares around words that I don’t know. Always carrying around a dictionary and thesaurus to expand my vocabulary. Find people you trust and who you would love to learn from that would be willing and able to help you with your writing and steer you into the right direction.

Writing is work don’t get me wrong. Continue reading and writing. You’re the creator, and essentially alone in creating this beautiful work. No one is making you do this: you chose this so don’t whine.

Chanelle Harris
Chanelle Harris
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