Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Kate Bracy on Rejection, Life Experiences and C.S. Lewis #AmReading #AmWriting #WomensFic

What scares you the most?

What scares me the most, in writing and in life, is being rejected. I know that sound cliché, and it’s pretty universal, but recently I had a little epiphany about how deeply this runs for me. I was at Seattle Center getting a small pizza and noticed a homeless man sitting at one of the tables. He looked pretty unkempt and “wild” which translates in my head as “unpredictable and maybe a little dangerous.” I was considering getting him a pizza along with my own, and found myself listing all the reasons that it might not be such a good idea. (It might set him off… I might choose the wrong ingredients... He might be insulted… He might not react at all… etc.) And after a while I realized that it all came down that he might – for his own reasons – reject my offer of dinner. I mean, really. Get a grip.

So I got a second pizza and approached his crazy-looking self and said, “Do you like pizza?”

He said in a gentle, open way, “Yes! I do!”

So I said, “Would you like a pizza for dinner?”

Again, in a quiet, eager voice, “Oh. I would. Thank you.”

I gave him the little box, and he took it and smiled at me with a very un-crazy and grateful smile.

It left me thinking about how much my own fears keep me from following my instincts, both in life and on the page. What if my writing sets people off? What if I chose the wrong ingredients? What if it insults someone? What if I write this and nobody reads it?

When people ask me how I feel to have published my novel, usually I just say, “I feel very brave.”

What makes you happiest?

Without question I am happiest when I am absorbed in something creative. It hardly matters what. Writing, sewing, photography, planning a presentation – they all seem to come from the same place for me. And always when I am working on these things I am thinking of how to make the very best version of whatever it is, and in what way I want to offer it to others. My favorite part of creating something, once I’m out of the spell of creating it, is giving it away.

Why do you write?

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I write because I don’t seem to have a choice. Although I have gone for long periods in my life not writing, there always comes a moment when I must. Writing is how I understand my life. It’s my chance to make meaning out of this random and ever-changing tableau called living. Writing is a joy, and it is a clarifier, and a refuge, and a great relief. When something is really consuming me, I can put it on the page and then walk away for a time. It’s as though the page holds it for me until I can pick it up again.

Have you always enjoyed writing?

The short answer is, “yes.” The long answer is that as long as I can remember writing has been a part of my life. When I was a small child my parents read other people’s writing to me. Once I could write well enough to create my own stories – maybe third grade? – it was like this wonderful gift of freedom. Like having a bike, or running at the beach. I could go as fast as I wanted and in any direction. Not being an athletic child (and that’s a generous framing of my motor skills) writing was something that let me experience freedom and mastery from a really early age.

What motivates you to write?

Usually I’m moved to write when I am emotionally overwhelmed. A great deal of my early writing was poetry about sad or moving events in my life. When I am overcome with sadness, or gratitude, or joy, or outrage, I just have to sit down and give it to the page. Then I seem to become an observer of whatever it is, and not the emotion itself. That distance is often stabilizing and healing for me. So I associate my writing with “feeling better” in some way. Also, because my sense of humor inevitably surfaces, writing usually lightens whatever I’m feeling.

Once the piece is down on paper, then I get my motivation from wanting to refine and sculpt it into something that others might either like or benefit from. I like to think that my pain and difficulties are not so different from anyone else’s, so if writing it out and making sense of it helps me, I want to make it available to others who might be struggling or experiencing the same thing.

What writing are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my novel, That Crazy Little Thing. I’m proud of it for a number of reasons. It came about because an agent noticed an essay I’d written in a blog. When she offered to help me develop it into a memoir – which became the novel – I did not squander that opportunity. I used it to develop as a writer. The novel is the first fiction that I’ve written, so when people tell me, “I can’t put it down,” or “I’m slowing down because I don’t want it to end,” I feel very proud of the final product. I’m also very proud that I managed to pull it off despite a very busy day job!

What books did you love growing up?

Oh, that’s a hard one. I was such a constant reader. When I was really small, I loved the Madeline series by Ludwig Bemelmans. I identified with Madeline’s independent spirit, and her quiet disregard for convention. As an adolescent, I remember being very moved by To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and I’m sure I read Jane Eyre four or five times between the ages of twelve and fifteen. Again, it was a plucky, earnest heroine who made her decisions against the grain of others’ opinion. I learned to read with Dr. Seuss, so I am fond of all those early books. When I had rheumatic fever in the second grade, and had to stay quiet for a year, my mom subscribed to “The Happy Hollisters Book Club” so that I would get a new book each month. (It was a series about a family of children who went around solving mysteries.) I think it was the first time I ever got real mail for myself, and I felt very important. I was about eight years old.

What book genre of books do you adore?

I love good women’s fiction. Stories that explore the world from a female perspective, and are not obsessed with romance or sex, but understand the importance and influence of both. Smart books about relationship

I also love spiritual non-fiction. I have always been a spiritual seeker – even before Oprah made it chic – and appreciate when someone opens my eyes to more kind and mature ways to understand my connection to something greater.

What book should everybody read at least once?

Everyone should read the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. There is just so much there. I’d love to take a class in them, and explore all the levels of meaning. (I didn’t read them until I was an adult, but I will be reading them to my grandchildren!)

What do you hope your obituary will say about you?

I hope my obituary says that I was kind, that my sense of humor softened life’s hard edges for people, and that I was a good mom, a decent writer, and a compassionate nurse.

Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?

I grew up in Northern New York, on the border with Ontario – not “upstate” as people say, but “Northern” – and it influenced me tremendously. The winters are harsh, the people are real, and there is a Canadian influence that I see in my worldview. We had to travel to many services (good healthcare, education, concerts, etc.) and it helped me understand the value of urban resources. I live in Washington State now, near Seattle. I appreciate the nearness of cultural riches, growing up so far from cities, but I also seek a place where there is a “small town” friendliness and a general willingness to know and help neighbors.

How did you develop your writing?

I developed my writing by writing at every opportunity by taking many, many classes; by reading many, many books on writing; and by being willing to hear painful critique. I think that combination has served me well, but none of it is easy. I also think it’s important to say that learning about writing can be a comfortable substitute for doing the actual work, so at some point you have to put on your big-girl panties and glue them to your chair. The only way to become a writer is to sit there and write.


Winner of four independent publishing awards, including the IndieReader Discovery Award in Women's Fiction, this debut novel hits the mark for smart, discerning readers.

There's nothing about her life that doesn't need a little work, so Melanie Davis thinks of herself as a "fixer-upper." Her history with men leaves her gun shy; her teenaged daughter can't string two civil words together; her best friend Donna just found out she has a life-threatening illness. When Donna also reveals a decades-old secret that still haunts her, Melanie makes it her mission to solve the mystery and reunite Donna with a precious link to her past - before it's too late. 

Along the way Melanie discovers with startling clarity the pricelessness of love and friendship. With a finely-tuned emotional compass, Kate Bracy carries us through a trial-by-illness as funny as it is touching. Her narrator, Melanie, comes to realize the enduring power of love - between men and women, between mothers and daughters, between friends. Through her vivid, endearing characters Bracy creates a small-town world in northern New York where old loves rekindle, friendships prevail, and secret wounds are finally healed. This debut novel will leave you with an awakened heart and a strong urge to send postcards to all the people you love.

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre - Women's Fiction
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Kate Bracy through Facebook

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