is the author of A Real Emotional Girl. Her memoir will amuse, enlighten, and inspire. But above all, it will enable its readers to find hope through the darkness of grief and to experience life with new eyes. Reading and using this book, they will discover, as the author has, that even when it feels as if we have been plucked from one reality and dropped into another after losing someone we love, there are ways to find happiness again.
Since this blog is about offering inspiration to writers and artists, my first question for you is, do you have a favorite quote?
I actually do have a favorite quote. I have a blog post somewhere on my website that elaborates on the situation in which I discovered this quote:
Those who dream by night, in the dusty recesses of their minds,
wake in the day to find that all was vanity;
but the dreamers of the day
are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams
with open eyes, and make it possible.
– T.E. Lawrence
Tanya, I cannot wait until A Real Emotional Girl is released! While writing this book, what’s the best thing you found on your journey?
It took me eight long years to write this book, and it was a strange experience not only to write a memoir at such a young age, but also to chronicle the undulations of my grief while I was going through them. So of course I discovered much about myself and about my family while writing this book, but perhaps the most astounding thing I learned has to do with endings.
Like all memoirs, I needed to finish mine with some kind of “A-ha” moment, some resolution or illumination that would make grand observations and commentaries on the human condition. I struggled with how to do this, not realizing that the answers did not have to be grandiose or revolutionary in order to be meaningful. In fact, the material that would end up becoming the last few chapters was on my desk all along, staring me in the face. But it wasn’t until I let go of the pressure of making myself a literary legend with this one section of writing that I was able to reach for that material, type it up, and see all the pieces snap into place.
If you could go back in time, what piece of knowledge would you take back with you into the future?
Without disrupting the space/time continuum? Sorry—nerd alert. I would take back with me the information that I would eventually try in earnest to make a career for myself as a writer, so that the younger version of me could hurry up and read everything there is to read. My #1 advice to young writers is to JUST READ EVERYTHING. I wish someone would have told me this early on, because it isn’t until a writer knows what works and does not work in creative writing that she can begin to emulate those things.
If you could make one wish, what would it be?
Oh boy—that’s tricky business. Again, without risking any warp in time, my answer to that is very simple and probably very boring: I wish for health and happiness for my family, for my loved ones to always know how much they mean to me.
What do you love most about life? And what do you hope to share with the world with your writing.
It’s been a hard year for me, but what I love about my life, and about life in general, is that there are so many reset buttons! I bounced back from some things I didn’t think I could withstand, and rather quickly at that. I love that change is always possible, that changing a bad situation is only as difficult as we make it out to be.
I hope to share my love for the written word with those who read my work, as most any writer will say. Beyond that, I hope to share my father’s extraordinary view on life through my memoir. He was a magical person, and he lived his life with an unbelievable amount of joy and exuberance. I want people to be inspired by the way my family chose to honor my father, both in life and in death, and by the way we chose to grieve—with our eyes and hearts open. I like to lift the dark velvet curtains and take a peek at what hides beneath or behind. I try to write about what I’ve found by always stopping to lift curtains, and I hope people see what I’ve seen through my work.
Can you offer some advice for writers trying to follow in your footsteps?
Again, I suggest that young writers read all the literature they can get their hands on, and that they just keep on going forever. It is impossible to be a good writer without knowing what has come before you.
I would also suggest really working hard to sort out what kind of writing process feels right for each individual. Some people prefer waking early to write, others work best at night. It wasn’t until I figured out what kind of process, schedule, and discipline worked for me that I really began taking on and completing big projects. But whatever that process looks like, it must take place every day. All writers say this, because it is undeniably true; to be a good writer, you must write at least a little bit each day.
If you could pick one word to describe yourself, what would it be?
One word? That is difficult, indeed. I could say “creative,” “meticulous,” “compassionate” or some other self-promoting adjective. But the truth is that the one word that best describes me is “list-maker
.” I live my life by a series of to-do lists. All my loved ones know that I have three areas in/on which I write these lists, often with some kind of incredibly anal-retentive color-coding system. Without them, I’d languish in a sea of laziness for all eternity.
Thank you Tanya. I’m so lucky to have interviewed such an inspirational and compassionate author! If you would like to find out more about Tanya and grasp onto some great knowledge about writing and life, you can visit her great blog here. A Real Emotional Girl is currently on submission and should be hitting the shelves in your town soon!