Interview with Author
Celeste Messer Part I
The writing process ...how did it begin
First off I need to admit that it may be strange to see a realtor with an author page but what the heck. I'm a realtor by day but from about 4am till 8am most mornings you'll find me at my laptop in my bedroom, not looking at houses, but writing. When my youngest headed off to college I rediscovered my love for writing. I don't think it takes away from my real estate business, it actually feeds it. I now have a creative outlet that I hadn't had in years. So with my new book on Kindle I thought I'd add a few pages on my website about the 'other side' of Celeste.
If anyone out there is a closet writer or wants to follow my writing journey check back here and I'll keep you updated. Imperfect Rose comes out on Kindle June 2013, Daisy's New Dawn, Book Two in the Patrick's Garden Series is targeted for October 2013...
QUESTION: Is Imperfect Rose this your first book?
ANSWER: Yes and no. Great answer right? Imperfect Rose is my first fiction novel. However technically it’s not my first book. I wrote a nonfiction book titled Follow your Dreams: Before your life becomes a nightmare back over ten years ago. Then I wrote a series of eleven children books called The Adventures of Andi O’Malley . So I have written before but the type of books and where I am as a writer and a person then and now make me feel this is my first. I’ve been struggling for years trying to figure out who I was and what I was meant to do and I’ve come to the conclusion I am a writer…I was meant to write. Sounds funny when I say it, not quite natural, but I’m getting there.
QUESTION: Why do you say you were meant to write?
ANSWER: Like many adults my age I started working right out of college. I knew business wasn’t what I wanted to do but I had to get a job, it was a recession and my plan was that I would stay at that job just long enough to figure out what I really wanted to do. Well before I knew it twenty years had gone by, I was married with four daughters and I was still with the same company where I intended to stay only a couple of years. I wasn’t happy with it but I didn’t have the courage I guess to get out. It was hard to explain to my husband (now my ex) why I wanted…needed…to quit a six figure job. The problem for him and I guess for me, was that I still didn’t know what it is I wanted to do. I don’t mean to be melodramatic but I didn’t know my life’s purpose.
Basically my ex wanted me to know exactly what it is I wanted to do or be before I quit. It sounded reasonable but the problem was I had a very demanding career and I had four kids with all of their needs and activities and I didn’t have time to think about me…what I wanted…so years continued to pass. Finally I don’t know why but I knew I had to leave the job. I had to take a leap of faith. The only thing I knew for sure to the very essence of my being was that I was not meant to stay in that career. I felt I was dying inside. The stress, my dreams, my feelings…I honestly felt like I was a pressure cooker and I was going to blow. So I walked away.
QUESTION: Did you start writing right away?
ANSWER: No. I was lucky enough to have been given an early out pre-retirement package so I had a little money and looking back I wished I saved it, but I was optimistic, a bit over optimistic, that things would work out. It honestly didn’t dawn on me that I wouldn’t be a success at something. I just didn’t know what that ‘something’ was. I also didn’t know that I would be getting a divorce down the road and be a single mother. But anyway the first thing I did was detox…for twenty plus years I had been taught to push down the intuition, the right side of my brain. I hope this doesn’t offend someone but I call it my years living as a man. It was a time when there weren’t many women in the business environment and definitely not at the executive ranks so I had to shift how I naturally thought and operated to fit in.
So after leaving the corporate world I had to reintroduce myself to myself. While the kids were at school I started on projects around the house. I put in wood floors (it turned out fine but I did sit in the middle of the room one day crying that I had underestimated the difficulty of the job). I put in tile floors. I painted. I refinished my front door. I had the entire yard relandcaped etc etc. In truth maybe I was stalling, keeping myself busy so I didn’t have to figure out what I was going to do.
Eventually I started writing about the process which became How to Follow Your Dreams: Before your life becomes a Nightmare. Looking back I see that I was still under control of the left brained part of me. Logical thinking, how to make money, still was the dominating force in my life. I was of the belief consciously or unconsciously, that you don’t just write to write…you have to write a book of course. But it at least started me down the path.
QUESTION: But what made you choose to write to begin with. Not everyone decides, okay I’ll write a book.
ANSWER: I guess that’s true. As I was searching, taking classes, buying books of every kind on how to find your purpose etc I came across an exercise that had you go back to your childhood and see what you did for fun. It said you would find hints about your purpose in your childhood activities. It didn’t come to me at first but I clearly remember that I have always always loved to read and I loved movies. Then I remembered something I did when I was maybe ten I remember writing a television show script for the tv show Batman and Robin. It was kind of hokey tv show but I clearly remember the bad guy in my script was ‘the glassman’ and the tv show always ended with a silly statement or something and I remember the last line in my script was ‘get the point!’ referring of course to the ‘glass’ in Glassman. Then my friend and I read it into a tape recorder.
Now I don’t remember ever doing it again but clearly remembering that one time when for fun I chose to write a tv script and tape it. So I thought it might…and I say might…mean that writing was a part of my path.
So with that in mind I was in a workshop and it was suggested that I start journaling, writing my feelings. I tried it for a short time but turns out sometimes I’d write about my life, my marriage, a struggle with one of the kids etc and it wasn’t always happy thoughts. I wondered what would happen if my husband or kids read it and didn’t realize it was just venting. So I began to edit myself which then made the process worthless. But I liked the process of writing so I started writing children’s stories only later to look back and see that many of the messages in those stories were messages for me.
I wish I had all of the stories I wrote but in my moves I lost the box with the stories and the computer disks I saved them on were corrupted. But the fact I spent hours writing again was an indication to me that writing was a part of who I was.
QUESTION: So why so long between books? You said you wrote the other books back in the late 90’s, early 2000’s yet it’s 2013 and you’re just now releasing your first novel.
ANSWER: I quit writing for 10 years. The day my husband said he wanted a divorce was the day I quit writing. For me writing was the tool that allowed me to open up to my emotions after twenty years of pushing them down. It was the way I could actually figure out what I was really thinking. As strange as it may sound, and I don’t understand it myself, but when I get into the flow of writing my characters and storylines come from me…not the conscious me, but an unconscious part of me and when I finally steop away from it, I can often see messages to me. It’s a magical process.
But that being said, with the divorce looming I didn’t want my emotions open. I didn’t want to examine how I felt. I closed back up to protect myself I guess and I quit writing…totally.
Then ten years passed and I was now in real estate, living back in the United States and my youngest just went off to college and my second daughter, Alayna and I made a New Year’s Resolution in 2012. We committed that we would each write a book and have a first draft done by year end 2012 and we would set monthly goals and meet to discuss where we are with those goals. If it weren’t for her the book wouldn’t have been written…the book was Imperfect Rose.
QUESTION: Aren’t you a full time realtor? If so how do you find the time to write?
ANSWER: I do work full time as a realtor and in the tough economy I work hard, seven days a week and the market has been tough. So I write before work. I have the alarm set for four am and from four to eight is my writing time. I would prefer not to get up quite that early, and admittedly some mornings I don’t, but it’s important to me so I disciplined myself to do it.
QUESTION: Do you have a dream of being a full time writer?
ANSWER: I definitely would like to have more time to write and let my daughter take more of the lead on the real estate. My ultimate dream would be at the start of a new book to have the luxury of time and money, to take a short trip, maybe a week or two and go somewhere in the United States (as there are sights I would like to see here in the US) and just stay in a bed and breakfast. While there I would get up early and write a few hours each day, then take in the sights for inspiration for a book setting perhaps, and get a good start on the book. Then I’d come back home and finish it. It’s getting started that is hardest for me.
QUESTION: Why is that?
ANSWER: I’m not sure and I don’t know if this will always be the case, but right now that blank page when I begin a new book is the scariest time for me. As I sat down to start Book Two of the Patrick’s Garden Series, I was intimidated. My daughter reminded me it was like that last year when I started Imperfect Rose and I think I remember that, but I’m not sure.
I stalled…I put character charts together, some storyline ideas etc but I think I was stalling as I didn’t know how to start and again was I crazy to think I could write a book. It took a few weeks to begin. To help me along I set a goal daily word count. I tell myself don’t worry about if it’s good or not…just write. So I have a daily goal of 1500 words a day. I also know myself well enough to know I can easily get stuck in my left brain. So this time I promised myself that I would not go back and reread or edit until I get at least 50000. I’m not quite there and I’m thinking I’m going to go back…but I know I can get bogged down in that and freeze.
My hope is that once I have enough of a base to work with I can push beyond the panic and then relax a bit and start sculpting the story. This time I am tracking my writing and writing down my emotions, so when I start Book Three and once again panic, I will hopefully be able to look over my notes and see that it’s okay, panicking is a part of my normal process and I just need to jump in and start writing and it open up and let the story unfold. When it works it really is a magical and exciting process for me.
QUESTION: What would you hope to hear from your readers?
ANSWER: Well first off I’d love to think I may some day have people who I could call my ‘readers’! But that being said it would be wonderful to know someone is looking forward to my next book.