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The Writer’s Corner: Becoming Your Own Critic - Interview with Tracie Chavonne

Questions by Hadiya Mehdi

Find the original post here.

H: Hi Tracie! I just want to begin by thanking you for writing such a beautiful piece that both shares your story and highlights your own struggle as a writer. I will definitely be using a lot of the advice that you shared because I know I struggle with having my own work critiqued.

To start, what do you think is the most important thing to keep in mind when critiquing your work?

T: Thanks so much Hadiya, for your kind words. I think the most important thing to keep in mind when critiquing your work is to have a loving approach to the process. It’s so easy to judge ourselves harshly for the mistakes of our past. There’s nothing wrong with owning the mistakes of our path. In fact, being responsible for our errors is what leads us to fine tuning ourselves in the future. All of those mistakes have led to where we are today and a loving approach is one filled with honesty, steadiness, and ease.

H: Something that you brought up in your post that I don’t think is mentioned enough is having a “writing voice.” Why do you think it is important for writers to find their writing voice?

T: I actually don’t think that we have to find our voice, as if it’s lost to us or that it exists outside of us. We always have a voice - it’s simply that we can’t hear it. There’s so much that gets in the way of the uniqueness of our own sound and writing is a process that can help to move away all of the noise in order for us to hear the voice that’s been a part of us all along. As I stated in the article, writers have the ability to use their voice just like a singer. We can manipulate our voice in many ways to make different sounds. We have one voice that makes many sounds. If we translate to writing, we can understand that we have the skills to use our one voice to write in many different ways. So what is important for writers to recognize that we have a voice, we simply need to tune our writing to it. We will know our voice when we hear it.

H: A follow-up from the previous question: How did you determine when your “writing voice” was finally yours—it was Tracie Chavonne’s voice?

T: That is a great question. I have kept journals all of my life and I actually had a tradition of reading old entries before writing new ones. By reading my work over again, I got used to the “sound” of my voice in the script. Reading my writing is the tool I use to hear my voice on the pages. By doing this, I am able to place my voice in my work while writing. I only learned to do this by reading my work over and over again and that is what I recommend for others. Read your work, your old stuff, your new stuff, and everything in between until you “hear” yourself coming through on the page.

H: I saw that you are a self-published author, so I believe congratulations are in order! What was the hardest part about not only self-publishing your own books, but also having the main topic be about your own life?

T: Thanks for the congratulations. The most difficult part of self-publishing my own books has to do with everything outside of the writing process. Running a small business involves following the legal process for starting a business such as registering the business with the state, acquiring a trademark, copyrighting my work, and balancing the finances of the business. The best advice I could give to someone who is interested in self-publishing is to delegate the tasks that aren’t your strong suit to other people. Get the help you need so that you can focus on the reason you started the business in the first place which is to be a published author.

Since I keep journals, I am used to writing about myself. Since the subject of me is what I know best, I saw myself as a bit of an expert on the content of the writing. I think coming to terms with exposing people in my personal life to the public is more difficult than sharing personal details about myself. When it comes to writing non-fiction in that regard, it is important to consider who sharing information about the people in your life may be affected by that sharing.

H: One of my favorite quotes from the entire post was when you said that, “Writing is something that I identify as a part of my purpose in life,” because this is something that I also heavily relate to. What advice would you give to those who are still struggling to find their purpose in life?

T: Much like voice, purpose isn’t something that is found, especially not outside of ourselves. I believe that to be alive is our purpose, which means our purpose is just to be. Sometimes we can define that purpose through a task or a title such as writing or being a writer as I have done. When we do that, we simply have to remember that we have to be ourselves while doing that task or using that title. So when I am writing, I am being me. My purpose is to be me while I am writing.

H: Is there anything you would like your readers and the LYF audience to know, regarding you or your blog post?

T: That sharing my writing with others is beyond a privilege. I am incredibly grateful I have the opportunity for anyone to read my writing. I have read a few writing books in my time and while I do enjoy some of the writing in the books, nothing gets you to writing like writing. Just start writing and see where the words take you.

H: Lastly, where can our audience find you?

T: I am a flight attendant in the friendly skies and I have recently started flying a full work schedule again. I haven’t flown regularly in about two years! While I am working on getting back into the groove of aviation I am also finishing my bachelor’s degree in English for creative writing. I don’t hang out on social media much but you can find me @TracieChavonne on all social media platforms. If you want to know more about my background, you can head to my website to check out the books I have written about my life’s journey so far. I’m also interning with LYF for the summer and will be continuing on in a limited capacity for the fall.

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