Friday, 5 November 2010

Your Writing Journey: Guest Post - Heidi Sutherlin

What do you write?

I write Romantic Suspense, and Paranormal Romance. I'm also a hack for hire and write many an internet article that is probably holding up the fabric of the web as we speak. I doubt anyone is really reading my fascinating rundown of Husqvarna chainsaws, but it's out there, being dependable. 

How long have you been writing?

I've been writing for as long as I can remember. It's always been one of those things that has come easy to me. So easy, that for a long time I took it for granted. It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I was goaded into settling down to write seriously by the simple and age old question, "Why not?" My mom has been telling me all along that I should write books, but like most people, I didn't take her advice until I'd exhausted my excuses. I'm a veracious reader and have always felt the characters and the stories swimming about in my mind, but never thought to let them wander around on their own. I suppose, it was either write them down or explode. An easy decision when you think about it. 

What got you started?

Honestly, I may not have started when I did if it wasn't for my sister in law. She has written three novels while raising her two children. My dad and I had one of those lazy conversations that people do during the commercial breaks. I think it went something like this...

"I could write a book."

"Why don't you?"


That, my friends, was my illustrious beginning. Of course, my mom was ecstatic and after the initial eye roll, which all mothers have mastered in direct relation to the difficulty that their children have in absorbing their particular brand of wisdom, she became my first beta. 

A Few important lessons you have learned along the way?

1. You are not an island. 
Write on your island. Dream, and plot, and scheme on your island, but when the time comes, leave it and gain the perspective that only interaction with other writers, readers and editors can give you. Writers cannot exist in a vacuum. While that glorious silence is an important part of the process, it shouldn't be the only part you experience. 

2. Be careful who you allow behind the curtain.
It's important to have beta readers and input and editors (oh my!), but it is also important to be selective about who you allow to read your work and infiltrate that inner circle. It's never comfortable to think the worst of people, but unfortunately, not everyone is out there to make you a success. While, luckily, I haven't experienced this first hand, being lucky in my fantastic inner circle, I know that there are some who may not have had such luck as mine.

3. Edit, edit, then edit some more.
I've come to realize that a polished manuscript is a beautiful one. We've all written the greatest story on Earth, but if you don't make it shine, no one will notice through the typos and awkward sentences, funky transitions and plot holes. Spend the time to make your work flawless, then ship it off to an editor. Think about your own reading habits. Have you ever read a book that felt awkward, had annoying typos or uncomfortable scenes? Chances are you avoided that author in the future. 

4. Craft what you would read yourself. 
Write what you know. Love what you write. It's been said a billion times. Duh.

5. Stay flexible.
This was a tough one to learn for me. I was a "write one and ONLY one novel at a time" kind of gal. To me, working on more than one wasn't productive, it was a failure to complete any of them. I've since realized that once you open the gate, things are going to come through in their own time and at their own pace. While we have to take the reins, it's important to let those stories, outlines and characters out. Again, it's that possible explosion issue. It happens to me sometimes. (There's a Snickers bar in it for anyone who can tell me what that is a reference to.)

What priority writing is in your life at the moment?

Right now, I'm starting my business and have been devoting most of my time to that. However, I am in the middle of editing my first novel which will be self-published hopefully in November. I have two that are started, and one outlined and ready for NaNo. Unfortunately, I understand that right now my focus needs to be my business, but I'm slowly seeing more time coming free for new words. Luckily, my characters are still whirling about behind my eyeballs and we get along pretty well for now. It's a bit cramped in my brain, but hopefully in the next month or so, we can get them a place of their own. 

Is it a hobby, career, potential career?

For me, it's just another aspect of my career. It's always been that. I'm hoping that one day, I can put the other sides of my business to rest and focus on writing. I know that I will always need the variety that I have now, I but I'm looking forward to having a little more choice in how I split my time between all of the pieces. 

Can you see yourself writing for the rest of your life, regardless of financial / popular success?

Absolutely. No doubt. It really comes down to exploding. I don't think I really have a choice in the matter. 

Anything else you may want to add:

Just, thanks for having me. I love these blog series that open up the curtain just a bit, so we can catch a glimpse of how our fellow writers work. Many of us have blogs (erm, sometimes we even post, er, sporadically) and we can catch glimpses there, but these posts really bring writers together. Thank you for taking on this series. 

Just one more thing, and it's a big one. Remember that you like to write. It may make you furious, despondent, elated, dejected, confounded, confused, frantic, and often ridiculously distracted but at the end of the day you write because you have to, because it is a part of who you are. I would even go so far as to say for ninety nice percent of us that it is often the very best part of us, too. The next time you contemplate throwing your computer, laptop, kindle or legal pad out the window, remember that you like to write. It's what you do for fun...twisted, but true.


  1. Heidi,

    Thank you so much for participating in this series. It's been great to get to know you a little more, and to see from your writerly view :-)

  2. *wracks brain for Snickers reference, finds nothing* Hey, it's early. Maybe later. LOL

    Excellent interview Heidi and Dolly! I love your outlook Heidi, and I love that you just started writing because you wanted to (and not before). I'm so pleased to know you, and I can't wait to be reading your books. There are big things in store for you... ;-)

  3. Awesome interview Dolly!

    Heidi, it was great learning a little more about you. I look forward to seeing your books up on the shelf on my bookcase, right beside Jamie's. ;-)

  4. Dolly - no, thank you. :) It's lovely to be here.

    Thanks Guys - I'm not telling. hehehehe. I'm glad to know you as well. I count myself lucky to have the privilige. *extraneous sap alert!* I'm lucky to have found a wonderful community of writers.

  5. Great job guys! Nice to see more about you Heidi ;o) Love your list!