Interview with Renee Gray-Wilburn

Interview With: Renee Gray-Wilburn

 
       1. Renne, please tell us a bit about yourself.
      
       On the professional side, I’ve owned a writing company since 1997
       when my first son was born. I wanted to be able to do something
       from home so I could be with him. It was geared to businesses and
       also to individuals whom I helped with their resumes. Then, I
       went through the Institute of Children’s Literature course as well
       as the Christian Writer’s Guild. I decided to start writing for
       publication in 2005, and ever since I’ve been writing for children,
       adults, and the inspirational market. Additionally, I provide
       editing, critiquing, and teaching for business and creative writers.
       On the personal side, I am married (16 years this year!) with
       three children, ages 13, 9, and 5. We moved from Silicon Valley a
       few years ago and now live in Colorado Springs where I have an
       awesome view of Pikes Peak from my front window! My oldest is
       determined to attend the Air Force Academy, so it has become my
       (nearly) full-time job to provide him the support, contacts,
       opportunities, etc. to help guide him through this process.
      
       2. What is your favourite book?
      
       This may sound cheesy to some, but my all-time favorite book is
       the Bible. It is beautifully written and is timeless in its relevance
       and pertinence, not only to individuals but to societies and
       nations. There’s a reason it’s still the best-selling book of all time!
       Aside from the Bible, I really don’t have one particular favorite. I
       read mostly nonfiction, so anything that helps me learn and grow
       either in the craft of writing or as a person is high on my list.
      
       3. Who is your favourite author?
      
       Since I read mostly nonfiction, I really enjoy authors that know
       how to make nonfiction come alive and read like a story. Probably
       one of my favorites for this is Max Lucado. He is a master
       storyteller who really knows how to pull you in to his books. He
       writes for kids and adults, and my kids like his books as well.
       
       4. Did you try to emulate any author’s style of writing as an
       inspiration when you started out?
      
       I really didn’t. I just focussed on the areas I wanted to write about
       and then bumbled my way through it. With the gracious help of
       some magazine editors early on, I was able to shore up some
       weaknesses and learn to strengthen my own voice. I never
       thought it would be a good idea for me to try to copy someone
       else, although I do pick up nuggets from authors all the time when
       I read their work.
      
       5. Tell us a bit about your current writing projects.
      
       Right now, I am all over the place! I’m just finishing up a tech
       writing/editing job for an inventor. I’m also in the middle of
       developing early elementary curriculum for two different
       publishers as well as creating a small-group curriculum for adults.
       For yet another publisher I am editing kindergarten and 1st grade
       teacher and student text books. I am also beginning to edit a
       nonfiction book for an author, and, as an ongoing project, I am
       helping to co-develop several workshops for a series of writers
       boot camps. Oh, and I just got a job to help design a resume!
      
       6. Are you currently working on a new book? If so, please tell us a
       bit about it.
      
       I currently have a nonfiction book proposal that is being reviewed
       by several publishers. It’s a compilation book that will contain true
       stories from grandparents on issues they face in their relationships
       with their grandkids. I am also working on two different
       children’s picture books that are in various stages of completion.
      
       7. Any tips for aspiring writers?

          I have four tips:

          1. Learn as much as possible for others, whether it be
          through classes, conferences, mentoring, etc., then make it
          your own. Work to develop your own voice and style and
          don’t try too hard to be like someone else, because you
          never will be. Each of us has a unique gifting and style as
          writers–we just need to find out what it is.

          2. Write every day, no matter what. Even if it’s only
          fifteen minutes. My kids’ piano teacher always told them,
          “I’d rather you practice ten minutes a day for five days than
          fifty minutes for one day.” The same holds true with
          writing. It’s the discipline of sitting down to do it every day
          that will make you a writer.

          3. Develop daily, weekly, monthly, and annual goals for
          yourself. This could be a certain amount you want to write.
          It could be particular places you want to get published. Or,
          it could be short and long-term goals for a book you want
          to write. But come up with goals, write them down where
          you can see them every day, and use them to keep you
          motivated when you want to quit (because at some point,
          you will!).

          4. Before you start writing, define what success means to
          you. If you don’t, you’ll end up chasing after someone else’s
          definition of success, and you’ll set yourself up for
          frustration. Not everyone is meant to write a book. Or, if
          you do write a book, there’s nothing saying it has to be a
          bestseller. Decide why you are writing and base your
          definition of success on that. Some people would say that a
          writer is not successful if he doesn’t have X amount of book
          sales every year. But what about the writer who writes for
          magazines with a subscription base of 100,000 people?
          That’s way more eyes looking at his work than if he sold a
          book. Or, what if your writing is used to encourage people
          in nursing homes, or in prisons, or in the military? Your
          work may not make the NY Times Bestseller List, but for
          those people whose lives you have touched, it was hugely
          successful! So think about what you want your writing to
          accomplish, and base your goals and success on that. If you
          do, you will end up happy!
         
          8. Any last words?
         
          Nope!!

Thank you so much Renee for a wonderful interview. I actually learned a lot from it.

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