Our next author interview for The Published Perspective is with current Lindenwood University junior, Victoria Lane.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I’ve only been writing “seriously” for the past few years, but I’ve had the desire and drive to write for as long as I can remember. I can distinctly remember filling out lengthy documents on my family’s computer with story ideas in early elementary school. I was always excited to be able to exercise my creative writing with school projects, and I was probably the most enthusiastic person submitting to our junior high’s annual literary magazine.
Q: How has Lindenwood contributed/helped shape your writing?
A: I haven’t taken many English or creative writing classes since I have been here, but I think being here has given me the opportunity to write— and improve my writing— with a purpose, something I didn’t really feel I had much of on my own. Having access to regular writing opportunities, like the annual Creepy Campfire Story contest, has given me real goals to work toward with my writing, and I think that it helps.
Q: What are some of your future/career goals?
A: My future is constantly up for debate, but my current ideal life involves working at a video game company in a creative capacity, preferably as a game designer. It sounds unrelated, but as I hope to work creating concepts for games, helping write game plots, mechanics, and scripts, I think creative writing will be a beneficial skill. I’ve always been really interested in video games as storytelling devices, so I hope to, one day, see some of my stories come to life as well, this time interactive.
Q: How many pieces do you have published? Where?
A: I’ve had a few pieces published through school magazines and Lindenwood’s literary journal Arrow Rock, but I have only had one story published elsewhere. The piece was featured in the Missouri edition of Z Publishing House’s Emerging Writers series. After the first publication of the piece, the publisher contacted me again and asked my permission to use the same piece in a more comprehensive, national edition, America’s Emerging Writers.
Q: How many pieces (on average) have you sent out?
A: I was actually very lucky, and I was published after my first submission. To professional publishers, I have only sent the one piece, though I intend to submit more over the next few years.
Q: How often do you send out work?
A: I definitely do not send them out as often as I should! School work keeps me incredibly busy, and my rare free time is seldom spent trying to do more work. I think my brain tends to turn off the moment I submit my homework, but I hope to be more persistent in the near future, submitting more pieces to more places.
Q: How long did it take you to get published?
A: When I was published, I wasn’t actively looking to be. At the time, I thought being published was some far-off fantasy. Although I enjoy writing, I never really considered myself a “writer.” I thought that to be published, one needed to not only be a writer, but a good one. I have an intense fear of rejection, so I was not willing to seek it out, especially considering the horror stories surrounding submitting to publishers. However, after submitting to Arrow Rock, Lindenwood’s literary journal, I was approached by a publisher, asking for my submission in their upcoming series. I decided I had nothing to lose, and I did. It took a few months to get an acceptance email, but the whole process was much quicker (and less painful) than I imagined.
Q: How do you navigate rejection?
A: Rejection is a difficult topic because everyone knows it is terrible, but it is also something we all must deal with in some capacity or another. I have always had an extreme fear of rejection; if it’s not inherent to all people, it certainly is to me. The real problem with rejection is that it can be very limiting and detrimental to self-improvement and growth. We see rejection, and we think that it is all we will ever receive. Despite knowing that nearly everyone is rejected at some point, we sometimes are unable to believe that our work may someday be accepted, loved even. I’ve used rejection, a short-term failure, as a reason to quit certain things in the past, but I’ve come to realize that, while rejection may be devastating at points, it is not a barrier that can’t be overcome. A rejection, at least in this context, is not a permanent state, and it’s not a reflection of one’s true skills, talent, or capacity to improve.
Q: Tips for keeping your spirits up?
A: I think it is important to have faith in yourself—in your skills and your ability to improve them— because, at the end of the day, our limitations are largely determined by our own ideas of what they should be. We think we can’t do something, so we won’t even try. Sure, sometimes our time is better spent seeking out other things, but sometimes, persistence would be far more rewarding. It is hard to maintain a positive outlook at times, but it is important to realize that success rarely comes from giving up. Failure, at least, gives us the experience to better ourselves. No attempt reaps no reward.
Q: Advice for fellow writers?
A: Most people who write have been told this a thousand times, but I’m going to say it once more: read. You don’t need to read constantly, but you should familiarize yourself with the way others write, the way the most famous and beloved books are written. A mistake I see far too often is people thinking that writing well is as simple as putting words to paper. In reality, the quality of written works tends to rely on the details: things like realistic character interaction, good imagery, foreshadowing, and the old “showing, not telling” trick. I think most people, myself included, would benefit from really analyzing the different ways characters can interact, information can be revealed, and plot points can intersect and overlap.
My writing used to be very straightforward, vapid, and boring. I read my pieces and hated them. Then, I started thinking about my favorite books and which aspects of them made me love them. I started paying more attention to authors’ specific words while I read, and I looked for good storytelling in different media, like film and television. Over time, it became clear that there was more to telling a story than simply “telling” it. I also think it is important not to fear rewrites. I struggle with that quite a bit, but if something is not what you wanted it to be, if it isn’t working, it should be fixed, not ignored. One of my favorite quotes, from Aubrey de Graf, is “don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.”
Lastly, I’d say that you should write every idea down, no matter how ridiculous or irrelevant to your current project. I have documents upon documents in every device dedicated to housing mine. Some ideas take hours to make into something viable, and others take years. I always recommend going back and looking at past projects, things you once loved but have since abandoned. It’s amazing what kind of clarity sometimes accompanies the passing of time. Some of my proudest work came from adopting and heavily revising old pieces.
Victoria is the President of Lindenwood’s Creative Writing Club which meets every other Wednesday at 2:30 in the Writing Center (LARC 333).