When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing as a young teenager, as a way to express my emotions and make sense of the world around me, the experiences I was having. I had journals full of free-verse poems and short stories – they were both an escape from everyday life and a way to understand and remember it. I didn’t share them with anyone but my closest friends.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I considered myself a writer from that very first private moment that I put pen to journal when I was 14. I had spent the previous two years at ages 12 and 13 wanting to be an astronaut, but knew that I didn’t really have the guts to test zero-gravity nor the math skills to pass the required exams! But I knew that I could imagine and write good stories, and I excelled in English classes.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer and how does that affect your writing?
I am a queen of part-time gigs while being a full-time mother to two young children. Right now in addition to mothering, I write, sing and score SAT essays. Pursuing my passions in writing and music while also taking care of my children can be challenging to manage. My days begin and end with my children, with time to write, score and rehearse in the middle. Evenings and weekends during performance runs are the most challenging, but I love what I do, which makes it worth it. I actually believe my writing is stronger for it; it forces me to use my writing time well.
What are some day jobs you have held?
During college, I worked as a department store retail associate, a clerk in the University library and a singer in the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. Right after graduating I signed up with a temp agency and tried a myriad of things: medical reception, insurance claims, clerking in a testing center. I’ve also directed choir, taught college English and worked as an Academic Advisor. The best day jobs were the ones I could use my passions in – it just took me a few years and a smorgasbord of jobs to figure that out, which is maybe how it should be anyway.
What have you written so far?
I’ve written hundreds of poems and many short stories as well. Most of my poems are free-verses in varied themes: nature, music, love and relationships, fantasy. This year I’ve published two collections of poetry: Canvas of Imagination and Space to Dream. Canvas of Imagination is a short collection of 16 poems that I wrote when I was 16 years old, and Space to Dream includes 50 poems written in the last 20 years. All the poems were hand-written in journals I kept through high school, college, graduate school and beyond. Typing, editing and publishing them was a process of hard work and mixed emotions, but it was something I felt I needed to do.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write from your experiences – write your feelings, what about what you love and what makes your blood boil, write to understand the world around you and the people you meet. Write for yourself but don’t be afraid to share it with others. Pay attention to what others write as well – be a reader and a researcher – because this will help you know how to write for specific audiences and hone your craft. Revise, revise, revise! Join a group of writers who will give you honest feedback. Make a daily appointment with yourself to write and keep it.
What is your next project?
One of my dreams is to write for children, and I have a short story that I’m developing into what I hope will be my first children’s novel. It’s a story based on a real experience my mother had as a child and told me about years ago: a night when animals escaped from a circus. It’s working title is Kingdom of the Tigers and it is a mixture of my mother’s real memory and a fantasy-adventure I’ve created.
What do you like to read in your free time?
I read widely across genres – poetry, literary and historical fiction being my favorites. I recently finished Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, a breathtaking read that I highly recommend! I also read magazines like Parents and Opera News. Online articles from PBS, NPR, HuffPost and TED, other writer’s blogs, and my local newspaper – particularly the Arts section.
How can you connect with Stacie?