Today, it's my pleasure to present to you, author Sandra Kischuk.
In today's interview she shares her creative struggles as well as her secrets to success.
Please join me in welcoming her.
Can you tell us a little about who you are and your background?
I first started getting a reputation as a “writer” in fifth grade. By that time, I had read virtually every juvenile book in the public library. Mom caught me reading Gone with the Wind—and made me take it back because it was inappropriate. The next book I checked out was Albert Camus’ The Plague. She let me read that one, but I don’t think she knew what it was.
My interests were broad—from nature and science, to literature and the arts. Early college was Pre-Med. I wanted to go to Africa as a medical missionary . . . but my own medical problems short-circuited that goal. I finished a degree in interior design, followed by a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Economics), three years toward a Fine Arts degree (a divorce ended that pursuit), a Master of Science in Management Information Systems (computers), and a Master Certificate in Project Management. Multiple Sclerosis derailed my career in corporate America . . . and put me where I should have been all along . . . writing.
Describe your creative process. Owl or lark? Do you write everyday?
I turn the computer on when I wake up, and get the coffee going while it wakes up. Early morning (from about six to eleven) is my optimal creative time, although I sometimes get a second wind. By afternoon, I’m usually editing . . . and evening, I work as long as I can until the brain turns to fudge. I rarely take a day off from writing. When I do, it is to see friends or family, or because the garden really needs more attention than I have been giving it—I grow a lot of my own food.
When I hit “the wall” during the day, I take walks, clean house, cook, or work in the garden.
How would you define success as a writer?
Success as a writer is learning that something you have written has made a difference in someone else’s life.
What has been your most rewarding accomplishment thus far?
All of them. Every time I get a piece of work published, every time someone tells me they like a piece, every time someone gets a job with a résumé I wrote, every time someone gets into law school because I took their information and crafted a “personal statement,” I’m thrilled and grateful.
What would it surprise others to know about you?
Today, people first meeting me would be surprised that I have had multiple sclerosis for over thirty years . . . and that I have been blind, paralyzed, numb from the ribcage down, unable to walk, unable to talk, and had no balance. In July, I am planning to publish my book detailing how I narrowly escaped a future in assisted living facility. Fighting the Dragon: How I Beat Multiple Sclerosis actually has an endorsement by Dr. Julian Whitaker of Whitaker Wellness Center!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about a writing career?
Butt in chair.
Do you think that the economy has had an adverse effect on the bottom line of today‘s writer? Or do you feel that writing is recession proof?
There is still work out there, but you have to be creative in finding it. I have found my greatest asset is my willingness to study and learn different writing and editing skills. Good writing is good writing. When people realize what an asset you can be in preventing them from looking like idiots, they appreciate you.
That being said, if you’re doing specific work for someone, get at least half of the money up front. It may be all the money you see. Or . . . require a retainer up front, do the work, verify their satisfaction, and STOP working when the money runs out. If they need more work, request another retainer.
Who are some of your favorite authors and/or bloggers?
I enjoy Carl Hiaasen for his quirky humor . . . and was intrigued when I finally figured out HOW he gets into all his characters’ heads without irritating the h… out of me. Normally, POV violations drive me nuts . . . but what he does is observe the characters’ thoughts and feelings instead of jumping right into their heads. Masterful. I make it a point to read a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction . . . to learn the genre differences, observe writing styles and trends, and evaluate story construction.
What‘s your take on social media?
A necessary evil. I need to get more active and knowledgeable. At the same time, I see an energy trap. You could land in social media world and end up eating up all your creative juices with very little to show for it. It’s quicksand . . . which we, as writers, probably need to master if we want to optimize our visibility.
If you had not chosen writing, what other career might you have pursued?
Artist. Doctor. Engineer. As it is, I combine my writing with my art . . . as in my recently released children’s picture book, The Whose-its and Whats-its. (Available on Amazon)
If you could be a literary “super-hero” what would your power be? If I could be a literary super-hero, I would have the ability to stretch time and maintain optimum performance. I don’t seem to have enough hours in the day.
Tell us a little about your Coffeehouse classes and your teaching philosophy.
My teaching philosophy is much the same as my coaching philosophy (I also work as a Life and Writing Coach)—I want to help people become the best they can be. I’m not sure today’s formal education process is doing people any favors, so my goal is to help writers discover their strengths and weaknesses . . . and to develop their writing “voices.”
“The First Edit: Finding and Fixing Your Own Writing Errors” is designed to help the writers identify errors in their writing and learn how to improve their work. It is not intended to be the final edit, but more, to reduce the cost of editing because the writers have done a lot of the work themselves.
“Your Personal Editor” is a course which gives writers the experience of working with an editor at a reduced rate so they are less intimidated by the idea. Also, if the writer applies what is learned during the course, a hired editor should cost less because there is less work.
My “Grantwriting” course is a comprehensive course designed for people who need to learn to write grants for the organizations they work for, or for which they are volunteers . . . or for someone considering pursuing grantwriting as a career.
To learn more, or to sign up for one of Sandra's classes, visit www.Coffeehouseforwriters.com