Aviva Orr was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, and currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two daughters, and two Yorkshire terriers (Lucy and Branwell). She majored in English at college and graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a master’s degree. She took most of her classes in early British literature. In December 2004, she traveled to England and visited the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth. Soon after, the idea for The Mist on Brontë Moor was born.
(The following post by Aviva Orr first appeared on Colleen Story’s Writing and Wellness Blog. It is used here with Colleen’s permission.)
I’ve always been a sugar lover, so I can’t really blame writing for that addiction. However, I do find that I am less motivated to exercise and eat healthy because of time constraints. I am not a morning person, so getting up early to go to the gym doesn’t work for me. Writing takes so much time and mental energy that it can be difficult to devote energy to something else (other than your family). Staying in shape and eating healthy requires tons of planning and dedication. Since I’m motivated to keep my kids eating healthy, I do buy a lot of fresh fruit, salad, and healthy snacks. However, I don’t think that is enough to combat sitting for long hours in front of my computer.
I love to walk with friends. I don’t have much time for socializing, so going for a long walk allows me to exercise and catch up with friends at the same time. The problem is that I don’t walk as often as I should. Occasionally, I’ll do exercise in my living room (exercise TV has tons of routines). This takes much less time than the gym.
I’ve always had a problem letting go of my writing, and I think it slows me down a lot. I tend to start revising before I’ve finished my first draft, when I should discipline myself to finish first and then revise. I am one of those writers who revises until the last minute, and that last minute may never come because I am too busy rewriting. I suppose this is tied to self-doubt. I am certain every writer suffers from self-doubt because it can be difficult to judge your own writing. That’s why my critique group plays a very important role in my writing process.
Whenever I feel overwhelmed by the whole writing process, I like to read or watch interviews with authors I admire. I like to hear how they overcame challenges, and it’s comforting to know that even the authors who make it look easy, go through the same tough process.
I also have a wonderful critique group that I can always turn to for advice. In fact, I find the entire writing community to be extremely supportive of one another. There are so many writing forums and support groups on the Internet that a writer never needs to feel alone. I’ve been a member of Verla Kay’s Blueboards for several years and have prowled those boards for advice, information, and encouragement many times.
The One Thing That Has Kept You On Your Path
Definitely a strong desire to write. I started writing books when I was about ten, but I never finished any of them. It took years of practice before I finally finished a novel. Like most writers, I can’t imagine my life without writing.
Advice for a Young Writer
I’d tell them to write for themselves, not what they thought other people wanted to read. Rejection is part of a writer’s life, and no matter what happens, everyone is not going to love your work. You have to love it, though.