Amy Saia lives in Kansas as a writer and musician. Her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press and in 2012 her first novel, The Soul Seekers, was published by WiDo followed by The Time Seekers in September 2014. The final book in the trilogy is scheduled for release in 2015. Thank you to Colleen Story, for this insightful interview with another one of our WiDo authors on her Writing on Wellness blog. We are reprinting it here with Colleen’s permission.
So far, the biggest physical challenge of being a writer has been accepting the pure sedentary nature of the whole thing. I am not one to sit still, but so far it is the only way I can write. I’ve learned to take frequent breaks and stretch every day to keep my body flexible. Long writing stints can cause backache, and it’s usually a sign to take a day or two off. Another thing I noticed early on is to turn the computer monitor down so I won’t suffer any eye strain.
I’ve also learned not to “sit on” a folded leg, or I’ll have low back pain. It’s been a hard habit to break as I’ve always sat bohemian style. I think you just have to listen to your body. If you feel like your legs are falling asleep, get up and move around; if your eyes are tired or your wrists are aching, go do something else. Be gentle with yourself.
In the beginning, it’s close to impossible not to take rejection to heart. After a while it stings less, but emotionally it is hard to understand how something you worked so diligently on could ever be turned down.
Early on I read a book called “Reject Me, I Love It,” by John Fuhrman, which had the nice effect of preparing me for the road ahead as well as shining a light on the positive side of rejection. If you can understand that it’s all a business and not personal, you’ll do well. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to keep a journal, or have a best friend to confide in. I’ve never let any problem derail me from writing for more than a week or two. Writing makes me happy, and I know now that I’ll do it regardless of any outside influence, positive or negative.
Music is my first choice to zen out, but recently I’ve used positive affirmation and meditation to help get me through not only writing rejections but life issues as well. I’m happiest when I write, but that’s not always possible. Going out and doing other things besides writing is really what keeps it all in perspective. Knowing that you aren’t just a writer, but a human as well, is important.
The Darkest Moment
I suppose the worst was the time a colleague told me my first book needed to be redone from start to finish and even that I should delete a main character—a character I loved very much. I sat back and asked myself how much I was willing to take his advice, or if I loved the book enough as-is to listen to my own heart? I was grateful for his input, but it taught me to have an opinion about my work and not always be dependent on other people’s thoughts.
The One Thing That Has Kept You On Your Path
It’s cliché, but I love to write and I love my characters. When I write I really do feel that “muse” or otherworldly phenomenon some people speak of. It really happens and it’s a wonderful thing to experience. Writing is very special to me. I love the act of it, and the result of it.
Advice for a Young Writer
This summer I taught a young adult writing camp at my local library and received similar questions. The hardest part is the rejection, but also it’s being persistent and doing the work. You can’t turn in a half-written book or story. Agents and publishers don’t want an idea, they want a real, solid book.
So, take the time and put in the effort before you dream of contracts and such. If you do this, you’ll prove something to yourself that goes way beyond the glittery lure of being published. And remember to be professional. You’re never too young to write a nice query letter or address people in a dignified manner. And always have fun when you write. Don’t make it a chore. Make it a habit. A really, really fun and exciting habit.