Spotlight: Holly Hughes -- Every Journey is Different

 
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Once upon a time, Holly was a television and film producer who worked with tons of important people before they were so important. She is much happier being a writer. Her writing appears in Time.com, Kveller.com, Expressing Motherhood, and Glitterbomb. She's an active member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and is currently working on her debut novel, DEAR DEAD DRUNK GIRL. 

You write on your website about the long twists and turns to finding your agent. What advice would you give authors just starting this process?

I want to be clever and optimistic here, but the truth is, every journey is different. Don’t compare yourself to others. That’s a one-way ticket to feeling like crap, and feeling like crap sucks. 

Here’s my truth:

I wasn’t as good a writer as I wanted to be. I took classes where I could, at schools, with mentors, online, and at Free Expressions workshops. I worked really hard and slowly got better. More and more ideas flooded my mind, and I wrote most of them down.

Not everyone likes my stories or my writing. They probably won’t like everything you do, either. So what!

Tell the stories you want to write. Tell them the best way you know how, and then learn how to tell them better. Get your stories critiqued then submit. I’m a big fan of Twitter contests because of the friends I've made and the doors those contests opened.

When you get a rejection, it’s okay to feel sad, mad, pissed, upset, disappointed, foolish, confused, and whatever other emotion comes up for you, but don’t let temporary setbacks stop you.

1. Keep writing and write better.

2. Submit, submit, submit.

3. Repeat 1 & 2.

 

"Every journey is different. Don’t compare yourself to others. That’s a one-way ticket to feeling like crap, and feeling like crap sucks."

 

How important is your writing community to you? How did you find your community?

If I didn’t have my writing community it would be impossible for me to write. I met friends at workshops and writing classes. Others came into my life online and via Twitter. Some were made at conferences like SCBWI.

Some friendships last. Others become virtual support. A few fade completely. My community is my sanity and buoy.

It’s not humanly possible for my husband to offer the understanding and constant support I've needed over the years to continue. My community cheers me on and holds my hand. They’ve helped me through depression, illness, and rejection. They’ve cheered for each one of my publishing victories. They’re my critique partners and Beta readers. 

Friendship isn’t a one-way street, and I do all I can to support friends in all stages of writing and publishing.

 

"My community cheers me on and holds my hand."

 

What challenges or fears do you face in your writing routine and what steps have you taken--or do you take--to overcome them?


My writing routine is deadline driven. I know many, if not most, agents and editors will tell the unagented writer to enjoy life without deadlines. But not having a deadline is like hiking without a destination for me--annoying.

I set a goal and work toward it. Before I opened my healing practice (www.hollyhughesintuitive.com), I had my ass in my chair writing practically five days/week. Now with clients and freelance work, I’ve had to become more flexible about the hours I work, but I haven’t given up the deadlines.

One summer I calculated how many words I needed to write to have a first draft done and worked toward a daily and weekly word count. Other times, like now for instance, I have a deadline to get through editorial notes, two essays due, and twenty to forty pages for a workshop I still need to write. Not sure I’ll manage all of it, but I’m going to try.

There were periods when depression overcame me, and writing was impossible. Of course, I never realize I’m depressed at first, so I usually get annoyed at myself for my lack of creativity. During hard times, I slow way down. I don’t enjoy it, but it’s necessary.

During the creatively barren times I talk to my writer friends, read, watch movies, and look for something to inspire me.

 

If you could go back ten years and give your future writing-self one piece of advice, what would it be?
 

Talk to Lorin the first time Tracey Adams suggests it!

 

"Be kind to yourself if family or paid work take time away from your writing. Life happens. Just promise to never give up and never stop trying to be better."

 

What advice do you have for writers who are juggling work, their personal lives, and writing?

Advice? Don’t beat yourself up if your writing journey isn’t going the way you want it to. And be kind to yourself if family or paid work take time away from your writing. Life happens. Just promise to never give up and never stop trying to be better.

 

What outside hobbies or interests feed your writing?

If I only fed my writing I’d still be hungry. It’s important to feed my whole artistic self. For me, that includes being around creative, smart people. I love being around those who challenge my ideas, listening to conversations, and learning.

It’s nearly impossible for me to be creative without also being physical. If I’m not dancing and doing yoga a few times a week I don’t feel right in my body, and neither does my brain.

When I feel a lack of creativity, looking at art and listening to music often inspire me. And writing workshops are the best way to ignite a creative fire.

 

FAST FACTS

What are you currently reading? 
There are four books on my night stand: THE HATE YOU GIVE by Angie Thomas, GOOD BEHAVIOR by Blake Crouch, REFUGEE by Alan Gratz, and THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF CAVALIER CLAY by Michael Chabon.

If you could enter the world of any novel, which would it be? 
That’s an impossible question for me. I love historical fiction, but don’t think I’d like to live in a world without good hygiene or clean water. I love the thought of seeing angels and other creatures, but I couldn’t limit myself to one book of creatures so I’ll stick to the worlds I create. :)

Do you write to music, or do you prefer silence? 
I write to music, but it has to be music only. No lyrics. I have a tendency to hum as I type, and if I hear lyrics it takes my creative voices away and fills my mind with other people’s stories. The music I listen to changes with each story I write, they all deserve their own soundtrack.

Is there a specific food or drink that fuels your writing? 
Ahhh, a cup of coffee in the morning for sure. Green tea in the afternoons after I’m done writing to help quiet my mind and shift back into parenting. Booze, not so much. The first cup of coffee is the most important beverage for me of the day.

 

You can find out more about Holly at her website, writerhughes.wordpress.com. Her blog has a page with a list of all her writing credits and links to them all. She's also on twitter as hgirlla