I love a couple things about Debra Rose’s work and her thoughts on writing below. First, I appreciate her words about the importance of telling stories.  Secondly, I appreciate that both her favorite and least favorite parts of writing are the same.  You’ll see what I mean. 

Giving Hope: An Interview with Memoirist Debra Rose1.Tell us about your book.

The Daisy Game: How I Lost the Game and Found Myself.   A Memoir of Poetry and Prose is not your typical book of poetry.  In it, Debra speaks frankly about her personal journey of life and love; a story that has spanned over thirty years.  She combines poetry and prose in a way that feels like a musical-in-a-book.  Her poems tell part of the story, and the prose gives readers a peek into her past, her present, and her future.

If you’ve ever loved and lost, this book is for you. If you’ve been dating the same type of person over and over, and are tired of “he loves me, he loves me not,” this book is for you. If you want to stop pluckin’ petals, and you long to find true love, this book is for you. The Daisy Game is full of emotion, humor, and truth. Everyone has a story, and Debra believes that when we share our stories, we can help others who may be going through the same thing, even if it’s just to let them know that they’re not alone.

The Daisy Game is the second in a 3-book series.  The first in the series, Pluckin’ Daisy Petals, In and Out of Love Poems, is available here.  The third book in the series will be available in the fall of 2017.

2. What stories, themes, motivations do you find yourself drawn to in your work and in the works you read?

The books I read are usually in the self-help category.  When I read, I like to learn something new and share someone’s experiences with them.  I believe that we all go through experiences to learn something about ourselves and to share our stories with others to help them learn about themselves.  Personal stories are important. If you’ve overcome something, it gives others hope that they can do it too, and the world today needs more hope.  Reading other people’s stories of triumph give me hope, and I try to do the same thing with my writing.

3. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I write most of the day, really.  Between journaling and working my next release, writing takes up a good deal of my time.  The rest of the time I’m singing or doing some kind of music-related activity.  This can include learning new music, putting a show together, or booking the shows that I already have.  I sing for seniors and combine music and storytelling to stimulate memory and movement.   That’s my main gig.  I also do theater, where I have the opportunity to take what other people have written, and bring it to life.

4. What made you believe you could write a book? How did you dispel doubt as you wrote?

I believed that I could write a book because I believe I have a story that I need to tell.  Many stories, actually.  I know that writing a book can be daunting, but I’ve always loved a challenge.  My first book took years to write because I had to learn my process.  The second one got a little easier, but each journey has been unique.

The only doubt I had with this book was if I was ready to reveal such a personal story to the world.  I really had to push myself to make it happen.  Each time I was ready to put it back on the shelf, I thought about the people who might be helped by this book, and that kept me moving forward.

5. Describe the first 2-3 steps of your process in writing your book.

I started with the poems that I had written years ago, which already told a story.  Then, I wrote the introduction (which would be revised later) to give myself an overall idea of what I wanted to accomplish with the book. I had to decide why people would want to read it.

From there, I arranged the poems and wrote little blurbs between each one, to remind me of what I was feeling when I wrote the poems.  Although this is my personal story, I wanted to make it personal for the reader, so I also thought about how my readers might be able to relate to it.  When the basic draft was complete, I recorded it and listened to it.  That’s where the real work began.  Revising.

6. Which is more difficult – drafting or revising? Why?

Revising is more difficult than drafting because you have to know when to stop.  It’s easier to draft, because you can decide what fits, and what doesn’t.  When revising, you have this nagging feeling that you can make it better, and you worry about whether the reader will understand what you’re saying.  You want to get your message across, but at some point, you have to make the decision that it’s done, and fight the impulse to give it another “once-over.”  You have to trust that you’ve done the best job you can do, and then put it out there.  If you work it over too much, it becomes forced and less organic.  When you’re telling your story, it needs to be more intimate and personal, like you’re talking to a close friend.

7. What is your favorite part about being a writer?

My favorite part about being a writer is that I can make my own schedule and create my own deadlines.  I can decide when I what to work on it and when I want to finish it.  I can write when the inspiration strikes, and I don’t have to force it when it doesn’t.

8. What is your least favorite part about being a writer?

My least favorite part about being a writer is that I can make my own schedule and create my own deadlines.  Because you do it yourself, you have to be really strict and hold yourself accountable.  There’s no one to stand over your shoulder and make you do it.

9. When you write, who do you imagine as your reader?

When I write, I imagine someone like me as the reader. Although I’m African-American, my writing style is kind of in between.  It’s like I have one foot in the white world and one foot in the black world.  That gives my writing a little “flavor” without being too stuffy for the African-American audience, but it can still be understood by the white audience.  I think my audience will be women over 50, but I want to speak to young women, too.  I also think about gender when I’m writing.  My experience as a woman is with men, but I think that anyone who has been in a relationship can relate to my story.  In addition, although I’m a Christian, I’m not trying to convert or preach.   I tell my story, which involves a relationship with the God of Abraham.  I refer to God a lot in my writing but that is my choice, but we all have choices.  Ultimately I hope everyone will buy my books, because I write from the heart.

10. What are some things that get in the way of your writing? How do you move them out of the way?

Social media can be a big distraction.  I actually write (journal) every day, but working on the book takes more effort and concentration.  One thing I do is record what I write.  Often, when I’m listening to it, I’ll get more ideas, not only about that particular passage, but about things I might have left out of the book as a whole.  Listening to it gives me new perspective and puts me in the reader’s shoes.

I really have to set aside specific time to write when I’m working on a project, and I find I need to be in a quiet place with few distractions.  I often go to the library and go to a study room so there are fewer distractions.  I can do editing and revising in a public place, like a restaurant or coffee shop.  For some reason, the noise helps me focus.  Often, a change in environment can be just the thing I need to get through.

Giving Hope: An Interview with Memoirist Debra Rose

 

Debra Rose is an accomplished vocalist, actor, and writer.  The Daisy Game: How I Lost the Game and Found Myself. A Memoir of Poetry and Prose is her second book of poetry and prose.  Her first book of poetry, Pluckin’ Daisy Petals, In and Out of Love Poems, is available here.  Her next release, Turn it Around:  A Survival Guide.  52 Strategies for Living Positive in a Negative World, is set for release in 2017.   Her newest release will include a journal and a calendar.  She lives in Oberlin, Ohio.  You can connect with her on Facebook, visit her website at www.debraroseconnect.com, and email her at [email protected]