Interview with Valerie Zane
How did you become a writer?
I’ve always been a writer. Even as a child, I loved writing poems, songs, essays, book reports, and short stories. I was on my high school’s newspaper and initially aspired to explore print journalism after college but an irresistible offer to intern in the Investigative Unit at NBC News Channel 4 in NYC led me down a different path. I spent the next 10 years working in TV Production and Event Planning at the National Basketball Association and the Tom Joyner Morning Show. My career took me all over the country and around the world, which gave me a lot to write about. There was a moment when I realized I had so much to write but no time to do it so I took a huge leap of faith and quit. Well, technically I gave six months’ notice but then I dove right in and wrote my first novel and then my second while harassing my friends and family for feedback and signing up for every writing workshop and conference I could afford. To help pay the bills, I wrote things for other people, like resumes and corporate communication materials, while going back to school for my MFA in Creative Writing where I fell in love with writing screenplays, too.
What inspires you to write?
Everything! Life itself is inspiring and there’s always so much to write about. But my daughter Lyla is by far my biggest inspiration. She inspired me to write Private Mommy Society. I wrote my first draft of the novel’s first chapter (which is now chapter three) while in the hospital recovering from a C-section after giving birth to her. Being her mom is the greatest and most inspiring thing that’s ever happened to me!
Could you share some of your challenges as a writer?
Carving out time to write is probably my biggest challenge as a writer. Life gets hectic and if I waited for the perfect moment to write, I might be waiting forever so I try to take advantage of every blip of inspiration and write as much as possible in the cracks and crevices of my life. As a mom of a busy tween, that might mean jotting ideas down on my arm at a dance competition or texting notes to myself while sitting poolside at a swim meet. Life doesn’t slow down, so neither should my writing.
Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
I’ve always been a morning person and I love waking up early to write. With a little caffeine and no interruptions, I’m unstoppable! When I’m on a tight deadline, I’ve been known to take power naps throughout the day to recreate that refreshed “morning” feeling. But I don’t only write in the morning. I write whenever the inspiration comes and sometimes even when it doesn’t. I get some of my best ideas in my sleep and sometimes I can’t resist getting up in the middle of the night to write them out. I used to keep a notebook beside my bed to jot down those 3 a.m. epiphanies before they faded away but I could hardly read my own handwriting in the morning so now I use my phone. I’ll either text or leave myself a groggy voicemail I then have to try and decipher come morning. When I’m struggling to write a particular part or when I finish a chapter or even an entire manuscript, I always read it back to myself out loud. This especially helps with dialogue. I need to actually hear it to make sure it sounds natural. Sometimes, I’ll even read it into a voice recorder and play it back to myself later to make sure I still like how it sounds.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Aside from “Buy Apple stock,” I would say, “Work hard. Stay true to yourself. Never give up on your dreams! Persistence pays off. It won’t always be easy but, trust me, it will be worth it.”
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
If you want to be a writer or if you have a story inside of you that you feel needs to get out, just do it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You can revise it later. But it needs to get onto the page and there’s no time like the present to start that first draft. So, what are you waiting for? On your mark, get set…
* What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?
You can reach me through my website at www.valeriezane.com or by following me on social media @ValerieZane on Twitter and Facebook and @Valerie_Zane on Instagram. Thank you!