Writers on Writing 10: Rebecca Coleman

Okay. This is weird. I am really, really bad at tooting my own horn–one of my favourite expressions is “the shoemaker’s children go barefoot.”

Nevertheless, here we are, at the end of the #WritersOnWriting series, and I thought I should throw my hat into that ring, and interview myself.

1. I am….   Rebecca Coleman

2. Author of…    Three “how-to” manuals: Getting Started With Social Media for Artists and Arts Organizations, Getting Started with Social Media for Charities and Non-Profit Organizations, and Getting Started with Social Media for Small Businesses. Two blogs: The Art of the Business and Cooking by Laptop. I am also a regular contributor to Vancity Buzz.

On the job… interviewing a restaurant owner for a blog post.

3. The first thing I ever wrote was…

I was in grade 3, and our teacher gave us an assignment: we had to write a short story about a natural disaster. Mine took place after a catastrophic earthquake destroyed Vancouver. My family and I were living in Stanley Park.

4. I knew I wanted to be a writer when…

Writing is something I’ve always done as a way of dealing with things, it’s a form of therapy for me. In my teen years, in the form of journals and short stories, now, as an adult, in a blog. I honestly don’t know if I could stop. It’s more like something I need to do.

When I was in my last year of high school, I took a creative writing course, and I loved it. Every minute. That same year, I took an advanced Lit course, and got introduced to some wonderful authors for the first time. As a child, I was an avid reader, I devoured books. Words have always been a huge part of who I am.

5. My first writing success was….

When I was 16, and taking that class in grade 12, I wrote a short story called So Is a Man To His Own Self. The title came from A Man for All Seasons, which we’d studied in class. It was set during the Reform in England, and the protagonist was a girl whose best friend wouldn’t recant. He was taken off to be executed. I wrote it with olde English dialogue, and did a lot of research. I submitted it to a province-wide writing competition, and I won first prize. I still remember, clear as day, knocking on the staff room door and telling my writing teacher. I was so grateful to him, gave him all the credit. But he said to me, “no, you did this.”

I don’t have a copy of the story, although it was published, so it exists out there somewhere…

6. Who were your influences?

To Kill a Mockingbird was the first “grownup” book I ever read. I think I was 12. One of my older siblings had brought it home from school. I still have it. My early influences were definitely in the fantasy realm: I escaped on a daily basis to Narnia and Middle Earth. Later, in University, I got to focus on Canadian Women Writers: Margaret Lawrence, Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Gail Anderson-Daargatz.

7. Describe your writing process. 

I write almost every day. My editorial calendar requires me to publish about 6 times a week across three different blogs, so I am constantly creating new content.

I write on my MacBook. I often write in bed, at my desk, on the couch, or in coffee shops. Sometimes I struggle with getting started, but usually, once the tap gets turned on, the water flows. Sometimes I just have to force myself to start writing, and the focus of the piece comes later.

With my last book, I did a writing retreat with my friend Paul. We booked a cabin on Bowen, and got up at 7 and drank coffee and wrote for 12 hours straight, then rewarded ourselves with episodes of Game of Thrones. I wrote 100 pages and 70,000 words in three days. It worked for me.

8. What does success as a writer look like to you? Do you think you are successful?

I think the root of all dissatisfaction comes from comparing yourself to others, so I prefer to carve my own path. I’m not competitive by nature, but I am competitive with myself. If I get x amount of hits on a blog post, I want to write another one that gets more. I don’t really care what other bloggers are doing, although I do read lots of blogs.

I think I’m successful simply because I do it. There are so many people out there that say “I want to write a blog/book/screenplay/novel.” But they don’t, because of life, or whatever. Just completing something is 80% of being successful.

For me, success and failure are opposite  sides of the same coin. Sometimes I fail. But at least I tried–which is better than never trying.  And failure is the greatest teacher. Like, ever.

9. What does the future look like? What are you working on?

Well, in addition to the 6 or so blog posts I’m churning out every week, I recently decided I need to write another book this summer. I will likely do it on a writing retreat, similar to how I wrote my last book. It will be another how-to book, but I can’t tell you the topic, yet. 😉

10. Which famous writer would you like to write your biography?

If Margaret Lawrence was still alive, I’d say her, but she’s not, so I’d love for it to be written by Ann-Marie MacDonald. She is a heartbreaking and beautiful storyteller. C’mon: Fall On Your Knees??

I’d just like to say a huge thank-you to all the writers that participated in this series. You can find all of these interviews here.

What should I do for my next series? Let me know in the comments section below.

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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