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Posts Tagged ‘Sheri Hathaway’

JAN: Please help me welcome a good friend and fellow writer, Sheri Hathaway to my blog. Sheri, How long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

Sheri Hathaway

SHERI: Now there’s a rabbit hole I’ll have to wander back through to find the beginning! I’ve always been a note taker, diary keeper and letter writer so is it fair to say, since the day I was born? In Grade 12 I considered taking a journalism course after graduation but when I found that the nearest university offering it was in Calgary, I was intimidated by the distance, size of the city and moving to an unfamiliar city. What a farm girl I was back then! I returned to thoughts of writing when I took a Canadian literature course at Lakeland College, Lloydminster and studied the life of Susanna Moodie. I thought to myself, if she can raise a family, manage a farm, and write, well then, so can I. I put out a feeler, as it were, and sent a story to the Western People, a supplement of the Western Producer,and to my surprise and horror it was published. Getting published for the first time is scary business.

JAN: Yes, it is. One feels very vulnerable. Who are some of the people who most influenced your decision to write?

SHERI: Susanna Moodie for sure, but later, I began reading biographies of other writers. I discovered that most writers have lived through messy lives and many, many rejections and still persevered, so that encouraged me.

JAN: What’s your preferred genre?

SHERI: Historical non-fiction for sure. Everyone has an interesting story. Reading about them is a way to be nosey without being told I’m nosey.

JAN: Why do you write?

SHERI: Sometimes a story starts developing in my head and keeps stirring and bubbling around until finally I have to let it out, just so I can sleep at night. It’s a very satisfying feeling to dump my brains out. It allows me to think of other things, or just relax. I have wondered about the cave drawings. Did some prehistoric man or woman have to get that story out of his/her head so he/she could sleep at night? I think writers have existed all through history.

JAN: That’s funny, Sheri! Tell me, how and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

SHERI: The kitchen table used to be the throne of inspiration for me until I got a computer, and then it moved into a separate room. That works better because there are fewer distractions. I have to write in silence. I can’t travel to another place and time in my head if the present keeps bringing me up short.

I’m a plotter when it comes to articles, definitely. The book I’m writing now is about my parents’ lives so the plot has already been laid out for me, making it a very easy task as far as plot goes, but I have a theme of personal strength and overcoming adversity that helps me choose what stories to put in.

JAN: I like your line about how the present brings you up short. How true. Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?

SHERI: I write about my interests: farming, pioneer life and the wars. There are so many stories, I will never run out. While writing one story, questions pop up that I have to pursue for another story later, and so it goes.

JAN: Great to have that continuum. How do you research and how do you know you can trust your sources?

SHERI: I once referenced Wikipedia on an article to the Western Producer and never did it again after the editor told me it wasn’t a reliable source. I read an article recently which advised it may be all right to find your first answers from Wikipedia but then go to the other sources listed at the bottom of the article. That seems like good advice to me. I use the internet a lot but I use sources such as universities, government websites, books and magazines that have been published in hard copy originally. When a publication has gone through the rigors of editors and fact checkers, you can rely on the information. Using blogs or websites that use a person’s opinion or memories without any references to other books, etc., is never a good idea.

Interviewing people on their experiences is an accurate source as long as you remember that it is one person’s memory of the event, which may be skewed with time or their perception. You can quote that person as long as you state that it is their memory or opinion.

Not able to find an answer to why my mother had short-term paralysis in 1947, I recently asked my doctor’s professional opinion. He told me what he thought it probablywas, and that is how I’m explaining it in my book. The medical records no longer exist, so I’m going to say that it is impossible to know for sure but this is the opinion of my doctor today, that in all probability, this is what happened. Sometimes you can’t find an exact answer, but you explain that uncertainty to your readers.

JAN: Very interesting observations from your experience. Thanks. What do you like most / least about writing?

SHERI: I love doing research and finding answers to questions about life in a former time. I love explaining that to my readers. It’s like teaching a class of really interested students. It’s a dream come true.

What I don’t like about it is the delayed gratification. It takes a long time from writing something to seeing it in print, and then getting a paycheque. A writer must have faith: faith in God that he made you this way for a purpose, faith that you are doing good work, and faith that eventually you will see the rewards of your labour.

JAN: What are some of the best methods of promoting your work?

SHERI: My first book isn’t published yet, so I can’t comment on methods for that. For my articles, though, Facebook is the easiest way to reach the most people. I have an author page as well as a personal page and share posts about my writing across both. I have a website but don’t get the same response. I’m not a real avid social media user, so I don’t have a lot of different social media memberships. I have Twitter account but sometimes forget to use it. I need to be more diligent in that.

JAN: How do you balance professional time with personal time?

SHERI: In former lives I’ve been employed outside the home and later ran my own business. I treat my writing as if it were a job and go to work every weekday morning, leaving weekends for things like house cleaning and socializing. It doesn’t always work that way and I’m prepared to be flexible. If a friend wants to have coffee on Tuesday, for example, I don’t turn her down because it doesn’t happen often, and friends and family are a priority. I make up the difference on the weekend but I don’t keep close track of hours. I have a list of things I’d like to get done each week and try to stick to that.

JAN: I’ve seen your determination to plan and carry out, and it’s motivating for me. What are you currently reading? Do you prefer digital or print?

SHERI: Last year a friend took my hand and placed a book in it, the first in the Mitford Series by Jan Karon. I’m not usually a fiction reader but these books hooked me and I think it was the mysteries. Every researcher is solving a mystery and I was interested in the unwrapping of that process. She also has great character development. It’s made me think about incorporating better character development into my stories.

JAN: What keeps you going in your writing career?

SHERI: When I’ve emptied my head onto the “page,” I sleep better at night, feel accomplished and proud of myself, and I know I’ve done what I was made to do. If I never got published, I’d keep writing journals, poems, and letters because of that feeling of satisfaction and the game of playing with words.

JAN: How is your faith reflected in your writing?

SHERI: Most of my writing cannot be called faith-based. I write history about farming and war and my faith doesn’t enter it obliquely, at least, not yet, but values such as family, honesty, trustworthiness, and ethical choices is all about what I write. When I get to know a new friend, I don’t come out and tell them right away that I’m a Christian, but when it does come up, they’re never surprised, so I think, like my character, that aura of Christianity hopefully surrounds my writing. Nothing is ever written in stone, either, and down the road, my writing may turn into a Christian genre.

JAN: What are some things you learned from your own writing?

SHERI: I was surprised that people actually wanted to read it! But seriously, researching other people’s lives and finding out what they lived through and gained victory over has always been an inspiration to me. I hope others gain that same inspiration from what I write.

JAN: What is your ultimate writing goal?

SHERI: I have several books that I want to write, so just to write them will be a major accomplishment. I have worked at other jobs most of my life and it prevented me from concentrating on a major work like a book. I’m finally at that place where I can write full-time, but it took me so long to get here and start a book that I was afraid I might die before I got even one done. Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes, is quoted as having the same fear and I think many writers are in the same place. I feel like I’m living the dream now just to have this opportunity.

JAN: Do you have any advice for beginning writer?

SHERI: Don’t get discouraged. Life may throw rocks at you, but remember that later on in life, you can look back on those rocks and write about them. A person has to live a life before they can write about one effectively.

Also, seek out other writers. I have learned a lot about writing by talking to other writers, going to workshops, reading magazines and books on writing and then practicing what I learned by writing and writing and writing.

JAN: Well said, Sheri. Thanks so much for letting us get to know you better today. All the best in your writing journey.

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