Author Interview: Linda S. Mai
How did you become a writer?
One evening a couple friends and I were talking about things we thought we might like to do at some point. It was uncanny. We all wanted to be children’s authors. Who knew? Responding to an advertisement in the newspaper, we all signed up for an upcoming SCBWI conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I had several ideas, but with a support group in place, and encouragement to learn the craft, I started writing seriously.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Don’t wait for life to be less busy. That never happens. Jump in! I would tell myself to believe in my dreams and take steps, even baby steps, to inch forward toward my goal of being an author. I’d remind myself to be less fearful and think positive thoughts. Then I’d write, write, write.
What inspires you to write?
Writing is like an itch that needs to be scratched or a hole that needs to be filled. If I’m not writing, something feels off. Inspiration and ideas come from all kinds of places.
My kids and grandkids are my most ardent cheerleaders. I want to show them if you work hard at something, you can reach your goals. Wouldn’t it be great if one of them became a writer too?
When an author I know gets published, it’s inspiring to see them launch a book or do a school visit. Proof positive it’s possible to succeed in this business if you hang in there.
Even my backyard pond inspires me. As I listen to the ducks and geese and watch the squirrels, I hear the trees whispering, “There is a story here. Go write it.”
Could you share some of your challenges as a writer?
Writing is the challenge. I love telling stories but putting them down on paper is harder. I wish I could say writing comes easy for me. It doesn’t. I work at it. I’ve relied on all my writer friends for help with edits, advice, and critiques. Reading lots of books, taking classes, attending conferences, and dealing with rejections, have all helped me face the challenges of a writer. As a child I loved learning new words, and it’s that love of words that still keeps me going today.
Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
In the corner of my bedroom, I have a comfy chair and small desk. Every time I walk by, I see my computer—a constant reminder to sit down and write. I write every day, but the length of time varies. Sometimes it is only a few minutes, but more often than not, I totally lose track of time and find I’ve been writing for hours. I usually have several books in progress, but I’m always working on a picture book in rhyme. Depending on my mood, I choose the one that grabs me that day.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
It’s easy to say you want to write a book but it’s another thing to actually put words on a paper. Find a comfortable place, then write something down, even if it’s not good. Revision is the fun part, at least it is for me. You get to watch your manuscript morph into something better and better. Write down your ideas when they pop into your head. I’ve had some great ones, and I’m sure I’ll remember them, but in truth, if I fail to write them down, the idea vanishes. Aspiring writers should learn all they can about the business side too. Getting published is a long-distance run, not a sprint.
What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?
You can contact me via email at email@example.com or on Twitter: @LindaSMai.