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JAN: Today, I’d like to introduce you to Sheila Webster, a gifted friend who writes and speaks and does anything else that needs to be done.

Sheila, how long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

SHEILA:  I have been writing since I was young, probably from grade one or two. The first prize I won for writing was in grade six for a fictional piece called Agerstoa. I won a whole dollar bill.

JAN:  Wow, back when there were dollar bills! Who are some of the people who most influenced your decision to write?

SHEILA:  I don’t think anyone influenced me to write; I always did it as I had a form of mutism as a child and another learning disability. It was easier to express it in writing.

JAN:  Do you have a preferred genre?

SHEILA:  I used to say my preferred genre was non-fiction, and I do the most in that. However, lately I have discovered the fantastic way fiction can convey truths more easily to some audiences.

JAN:  I certainly get that. Why do you write?

SHEILA:  Because I can’t not write.

JAN:  Ah. How and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

SHEILA:  I probably spend more time plotting in my head, sometimes years before I write something. I can speak as a pantser sometimes but usually on topics I have crafted in my head beforehand.

JAN:  Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?

SHEILA:  My ideas have always been with me and I have had the same basic themes my whole life: tragedy, drama, obstacles, joy in minutae and others. Music, nature, emotion—these inspire me.

JAN:  How do you research and how do you know you can trust your sources?

SHEILA:  I research by asking, by trolling, by reading, by finding common denominators amongst all sources. Since the internet I trust nothing; there is a lot of opinion, false news, conspiracy theory, etc. I look at who publishes what is written and what slant is behind the publisher of the piece. Everyone has an agenda these days. I think praying for wisdom works best!

JAN:  Very helpful. What do you like most / least about writing?

SHEILA:  I love writing. I hate the idea though that everyone has a book in them. Maybe everyone’s lives could be a book at some pivotal point, but not everyone should or can write.

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

SHEILA:  Word of mouth, conferences, networking, passion, not enough people write with true passion or knowledge. Too much opinion and not enough well-crafted or thought-out pieces are published. Passion will always market. I believe in natural marketing. My documentary naturally marketed itself and for those that didn’t see it, I probably didn’t target their market for internal reasons.

JAN:  What are your favorite / most effective social media?

SHEILA:  I don’t really like social media, pretty much at all. It is glutted with inane and urgent things that are not helpful in today’s unbalanced world. If I had to choose one it would be short audio clips or video. My favorite is still the radio interview.

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

SHEILA:  I don’t … that’s honest. I still raise children and currently I work full time as an addictions worker in a detox. I probably write the way I always have—in bits and pieces, and culling the storage places of my mind for cross references. I am always trying to stay alert to what is current in media or news though to see what may be relevant.

JAN:  What are you currently reading? Do you prefer digital or print?

SHEILA:  Currently I am reading something about psychoanalysis and neuroscience and where the cross section is. I read my son’s poetry book over and over to different groups aloud and I see what a huge impact it has. John Grisham is my staple for fiction. Tolstoy. I reread some things like Desert Fathers each year and of course my Bible. James, Psalms, Isaiah, Acts and portions of the gospel are standard.

JAN:  What are some of your favorite things? What makes you unique?

SHEILA:  Everyone tells me I am unique. I just am, people say. I do things they haven’t seen others do. In teaching at detox I am my most creative because I have such a varied audience each time. I love picking up the mud of life and crafting personal impact for clients. My fav things are a couple of my good buds, laughing with them, crying with them, deepening our stories through community. I love being alone, I love wind, trees, water, sun, and fire. I like driving a decent car with tunes on and windows open. I like church but different kinds of church for different kinds of life.

JAN:  I’m glad you are uniquely you! Few people have the courage to truly be themselves. What keeps you going in your writing career?

SHEILA:  I am one of those people who has also written because I do…there are no stops or false starts. I write because that is the life God poured into me and my last piece will be a note to someone as I lay dying. I was born to write and will do so without thinking about it.

JAN:  How is your faith reflected in your writing?

SHEILA:  It is written in everything but I only write evident faith in sermons. Most of my faith is a watermark behind my writing, but it is always there if you know me.

JAN:  I like the watermark idea. What are some things you learned from your own writing?

SHEILA:  That I am not as dumb as I used to think I was, that I haven’t changed much since I was five or six years of age, that I am way more passionate about individuals than crowds, that I love more deeply than I let on, and I am way happier as an introvert than my socialized extroverted persona. Also, that no matter what my external mortal body has done or gone through, that God is written in my DNA and pours out in different ways.

JAN:  Beautiful! What is your ultimate writing goal?

SHEILA:  To release as many God stories in others as humanly possible with God’s help, before I die.

JAN:  Advice for beginning writer…

SHEILA:  Just be…and begin…

…love God and life deeply

…hold all else loosely

JAN: Thanks for the lovely interview, Sheila. All the best in your writing and all the other wild and wonderful things you are involved in!

Sheila Webster

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