Sunday, August 1, 2021

Writing Reflections

How has writing changed your life, and how has life changed your writing?

Brenda Chapman

Writing has made my life a lot richer and colourful. I needed a creative outlet to feel fulfilled and writing has given me that. Last week, I received an email from a man who said he listened to my first two Stonechild and Rouleau mysteries while working on his farm. I also received emails last week from a couple of readers in New Zealand, someone in Newfoundland and others in Michigan and Calgary. What could be cooler than that? To know that my books are being read or listened to by complete strangers all around the world and that they enjoyed the stories enough to contact me is mighty satisfying.

One of the biggest changes in my life that I can attribute to writing comes down to the friends I've made. I've met so many interesting, terrific authors over the years, including a posse of crime fiction writers here in Ottawa. It's a supportive, friendly group, always ready with words of wisdom and ideas for writing and marketing, and we've had loads of fun at conferences and other book events. I've also met readers who've become friends. One Ottawa bookclub has hosted me twice with a third get together planned for later this month. I've also met so many people in the publishing and book industry, from editors to publicists to bookstore owners and managers - I can confirm unequivocally that book lovers make the best people!

Writing has also made me a more prolific traveller. Starting with Bouchercon in Baltimore, I've been to book conferences in Cleveland, Monterey, Phoenix, Washington, Muncie, Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto ... most places I've never been and would not have experienced but for writing.

Meeting some of the 7 Criminal Minds at Vancouver Bouchercon

The business of writing has made me more tenacious and confident ... well, sometimes. Like most writers, I've had to deal with rejection and still find something within myself to shrug it off and keep going. I've also been in many uncomfortable public speaking situations, and I mean uncomfortable because being front and centre can be nerve-wracking, but with experience comes a greater level of ease. Because of writing, I've learned to be better at marketing, public speaking, and media interviews. I've gained insight into the publishing business, and while I've learned a lot, there's still much more to master.

I was a regular guest on a local news talk radio station the past few years.

Interviewed for television by Mr. Hollywood, Matt Demers

And then there are the times I've had to stretch and force myself into potentially embarrassing situations, such as store-signings. Standing in a store for three hours, approaching strangers to buy my books, trying not to be overwhelmed, hoping to make a sale without looking desperate - these experiences are like a dose of cod liver oil that tastes bad at the time but does one good in the long run. I've met some lovely people through these signings and learned to enjoy myself, selling books in the process. As my dad used to say after we made it through something tough, "that puts hair on your chest."

Enjoying a Chapters signing pre-pandemic.

As for the second part of this week's question - how has life changed my writing - well, I started writing mysteries for my daughters and visited schools and took part in events geared to children. As my girls grew, I switched to the adult mystery genre and became part of the writing community targeting adult readers. As my life evolved, so did my subject matter.

Throughout my writing years, I've continued to read widely, follow the news, and experience all the changes going on in our world. The new experiences have impacted my writing, just as they've made an impact on me personally. With the wrapping up of my two long-running series, I've been working on a new series and seeing where this will lead. Starting a new project holds the same sense of excitement, and I'm still open to stretching myself and trying new things.

Not bad for an old dog :-)


Twitter: brendaAchapman

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Susan C Shea said...

As I was typing my admiration for your post, Brenda, the power in my neighborhood went out! I'm just back online and want to tell you how much it resonated with me. From the lows, like trying to make a single sale in a big impersonal store to getting good reviews for a new book you loved writing, an author's life is one change and "growth opportunity" after another!

Brenda Chapman said...

Thanks Susan - I think authors in general have a lot of the same lows and highs, so good to know my post resonated with you.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

A very inspiring post, Brenda — and powerful enough to knock the power out in Susan's hood.

Brenda Chapman said...

Thanks Dietrich - the power of words :-)