I’m happy to introduce my first interview of the series Collecting Conversations. First up to the plate is Andrea, a 25-year-old freelance technical writer who writes textbooks on Microsoft Office software. She has a writing degree from the University of Tampa and hopes to be successful at creative writing one day.
The best part of her job is she gets to work from home and doesn’t have to deal with office politics. Also, Andrea’s name can be found on Microsoft Office software textbooks. Cool, right?
After years of writing before, during and after college, Andrea has a lot of knowledge to share on the subject.
Andrea doesn’t remember the exact moment she began writing, but she remembers being young.
“I’ve always been a reader. As a kid I would carry books with me everywhere I went (and I still do),” she said. “I guess one day I decided I wanted to try writing.”
She enjoys both fiction and poetry. Ultimately she wants to write fiction but she loves poetry and doesn’t want to stop writing it.
Her proudest writing accomplishment has been having poems published in an online journal.
“To me having my own work published is a much bigger accomplishment than getting my name on a book I wrote for someone else,” she said. “I will always remember the first time my own words were published.”
She has learned she can survive writing boot camp.
Andrea finds it harder to start writing than keep writing. She recalls her first year of college as a writing major and refers to it as boot camp, saying it was hard to be vulnerable.
“You spend a lot of time writing your deepest most intimate thoughts and then listen to everyone bash it to pieces,” she said. “If you can take that criticism and weed out the crap and let the rest of it help you then I think you’ll have a much easier time to keep writing.”
She doesn’t keep a writing schedule but wishes she did saying, “I’m just not to the point where I can sit down and say ‘I will write now.’ It doesn’t work that way for me.”
She has learned it’s hard to make time for writing.
“Life gets in the way of most things, but I think if you really have a passion for it, you will make the time,” she said.
Her childhood has been her biggest inspiration. She said she remembers random, insignificant moments from being a child and turns those moments into a story or poem.
She learned not to give up.
There comes a point when most people who have dipped their feet in to writing want to give up. Andrea said she almost gives up everyday, but by sticking with it, her writing improves.
“I’m a perfectionist who could spend an entire day rewriting a sentence,” she said. “I stick with it because nothing makes me happier than that moment when I find the right words to express what I’m trying to say.”
We ended the conversation with advice she would tell other writers or aspiring writers.
“I think you can’t be afraid to write in a medium or genre that you don’t like. I never thought I would ever become a technical writer but I actually enjoy it and it helps my other writing,” she said. “I would also say to really get into poetry. So many writers seem to want to write fiction but never get in to poetry. Learning how to write poems help make your fiction stronger, they go hand-in-hand.”
A look at a few of the questions:
What is the best advice you’ve ever received on writing?
I had a professor tell me that words fail and that once you get over that it becomes a lot easier. I didn’t get it at first but now that I do I’ve had a much easier time writing.
and the worst piece of advice you’ve received?
I think most advice is bad when it comes to art. I’ve been told to not write offensive things, which to me is ridiculous. Life is offensive.
What is your favorite book, short story and poem?
My favorite book of all time is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I read it all of the time and each time I find something new to love. My favorite short story is a tie between White Angel by Michael Cunningham and Dance in America by Lorrie Moore. And my favorite poem is This Hour and What Is Dead by Li-Young Lee (honestly I love anything by him).
Best movie you’ve seen lately that was adapted from a book?
Stand by Me is my favorite movie of all time. It was adapted from a Stephen King story. I did just see The Perks of Being a Wallflower and thought it was an amazing adaptation. I love both the book and the movie.