I’m just getting to know Emily Wierenga. But when Ed Cyzewski suggests I interview someone, well, I listen. And I am so glad I did. If you feel too busy to write, if you feel like your life’s pain will silence you, well, let Emily inspire you today.
1. Tell me about your latest project.
I have been working on a number of books this year: Chasing Silhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder, with Dr. Gregory Jantz, which was published this September by Ampelon Publishing ; Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy, co-written with Dr. Dena Cabrera, coming out through Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Mother’s Day 2013, and A Promise in Pieces, part of Abingdon Fiction’s Quilts of Love Series, being released Fall of 2013.
2. What role, if any, did books, writing, and reading play in your childhood?
I have always been an avid reader and writer. I found great solace in Anne of Green Gables, as did many a girl, and I also devoured Laura Ingalls’ Wilder Little House on the Prairie books. With my dad being a pastor, and us moving a lot and being homeschooled, I found friends in books. The characters in them became my closest confidants until I started attending public school in grade five. And I’ve written poetry and short stories since the age of seven.
3. What is your writing practice, your writing routine?
With four boys ages 1-4 (two of them foster boys) I write when I can. I sneak in moments here and there, and I often have a baby in my lap. I write during naptime, and in the evenings. It’s not a matter of having writer’s block; it’s a matter of getting the chance to put my thoughts to paper, but if I’m wise, I manage to do it every day. I also try and set a word count goal, if I’m writing a book, somewhere between 1-2,000 words per day, and I try to take Sundays off.
4. Who are you reading now?
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
Into the Free by Julie Cantrell
The Orchard by Theresa Weir
5. What are three of your all-time favorite books? Why do you love those?
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
6. How do you balance “building a writing platform” and the actual writing to set on that platform?
Again, like writing, I do what I can. I don’t stress about it; I just pray and then ask God to guide me that day, and I try to take each day and each opportunity as it comes. I believe more in living life than in marketing my product, but I do realize that with this gift comes a responsibility. I want the majority of my day spent serving others, versus serving myself, so I entrust it all to prayer.
7.What is a typical day like for you?
I wake up around 6 with the kids and get them breakfast and spend time with them, changing clothes and diapers and breaking up fights, and three days a week at 8:30 or 9, I have a girl who comes and helps me out. When she comes, I normally get her to read them stories or do playdough while I check emails and do some correspondence; then it’s snacktime, and I do ABCs with the three oldest, while the youngest goes for a nap and then our nanny often takes them to the library or outside to play while I get some writing done. Then it’s lunchtime, and then naptime, and I either go for a run or take a shower or do some writing. I try to spend as much as the afternoon with my kids as I can, and then my husband comes home from his job as a teacher at 4:30 and I make supper, then it’s bathtime and bedtime and I spend much of the evening blogging or writing, and then my husband and I watch a show together and eat a snack, and then it’s bed around 11.
8. Describe your dream writing space?
A cabin in the mountains with a woodstove.
9. What is the hardest writing critique you ever received? How did you respond?
“The characters aren’t believable.” It was a comment I received on my first novel; I responded by weeping, and then working on learning to listen to my characters instead of telling them how to feel.
10. What is the best wisdom you have to share with other writers?
Read Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott, and On Writing by Stephen King.
Discover your own voice, but don’t be afraid to mimic others until you find it.
Write the truth, in love.
For more info about Emily, or her books, please visit www.emilywierenga.com.