I was a storyteller as a little girl but I think it scared my parents. They told my teachers to give me lots of extracurricular activities so I wouldn’t have time to daydream. It worked for a while, but you can’t keep a good writer down so EVENTUALLY I came back to my writer’s dream in my 30’s. Here’s what happened leading up to my writing career and beyond.
…I tend to DREAM BIG but I start at the bottom!
In my 20’s, I worked as an Assistant to a Creative Director in New York City, then after months of late nights and hard work, I got promoted to Copywriter. At the beginning of a client’s campaign, our team would brainstorm how we should pitch the brand, no editing. We’d settle on one idea eventually but we had crazy fun putting down those first thoughts.
THE TAKE-A-WAY: Jump in and do things that scare you. As a fiction writer, just get it down. You can edit later.
…New hubby wants to move to California.
I cry NO…NO… NO… but he wins out, so away we go! I get to the small Cali suburb where his job is located direct from New York City and I’m LOST! I drive to Berkeley, take an Intro to Fiction Writing course, the prof says I have a ‘good ear’ which I take to mean they are so superficial in Cali. I write my first short story, apply to a Grad program, get accepted and get killed in the program ‘cuz I’m a novice and they bullied the crap out of me. I drove home to that little Cali suburb each week crying.
THE TAKE-AWAY: Never Let ANYONE crush your dream. Stay strong, put one foot in front of the other and just prove the doubter’s wrong.
Got the grad degree, now what? Am I any good? I guess I better test the waters by sending stuff out to contests. I’ll never forget that first 1st Prize Winner with its $50 check. You might have thought they sent me $50,000 the way I beamed with pride. It was the kick in the pants I needed to keep writing. I put an ad in the little Cali suburb’s newspaper and put together my first writer’s critique group. It was small and positive. Three of us still keep in touch a decade later. I started writing poetry, really prose poetry, which is kinda short story writing in its most minimalist form.
I read as much good poetry as I could and kind of just copied the resonance and rhythm of those good writer teachers. My poems started winning more contests so I thought it was time to launch a book. I found an online course called Buzz Your Book taught by MJ Rose. I did all of the exercises, ordered the poems and short stories of my first book, found an Indie publisher (Robertson Publishing) who liked my work and together we figured out how to produce and market a book.
The Shadow of A Dog I Can’t Forget was my Intro to Bookmaking. Again, holding that first book in my hands – it still brings tears to my eyes.
Then I had to get reviews, do readings, PROMOTE…PROMOTE…PROMOTE.
I got asked to be a contest Judge, got asked to speak in classes on writing, got asked to teach an online writing course. I got some writer’s grants totaling close to $20,000. The world of writing opened up to me in the most beautiful way.
THE TAKE-AWAY: Again, it’s about fearlessness, risk-taking, and above all – believing in yourself.
…Okay, you’ve got one book out – now what?
You’ve gotta write another. So I just kept on writing – one short story after another short story after another until I had 11 stories – a second book. Robertson Publishing, using my first book as a template, was now a very reputable self-pubbing house so I used them for my second book.
THE TAKE-AWAY: We gotta keep reinventing ourselves as writers. There’s so much to learn and nothing is ever lost on a writer. We are word magicians finding something to use for our writing in basically EVERYTHING!
…I’m writing my third and fourth books tandemly, both of them novels, The Girl With Sand in Her Hair and 26. I feel like I’ve told you a lot, so if you still want more, please go to my website.
Thank you so much for having me and HAPPY WRITING…
MARY KENNEDY EASTHAM, MA, MFA has had the good fortune of growing up in a small New England town. She spread her wings and moved to New York City, San Francisco and Malibu which is where many of her stories took shape. Her first book, The Shadow of A Dog I Can’t Forget, now in its Fifth Printing, was a 2011 WILD CARD winner in the Hollywood Book Festival and a 2010 Celebrity Achiever Award winner.
Her second book Squinting Over Water – Stories was recently a WILD CARD winner in the Paris Book Festival.
Mary has been awarded over $25,000 in Literary Awards. In her spare time she sings, dances and plays with her four Golden Retrievers.
There are no perfect people here.
These characters are you and me trying to make sense of things – good and bad – coming up with a Plan B when life gets messy.
One early reader said she would walk across continents to get to this book. These whimsical stories transformed her, made her believe once again in the true beauty and playfulness of life…