My original intention for the series of interviews I do here was to focus on agents (BBCHAT) and successful authors (SAT). In the course of internet wanderings though, I’ve ran across a lot of really awesome people, and culled an enormous amount of information from blogs. As I raided my brain – yes, I picture myself on the prow of a Viking ship, approaching my own gray matter – for more people I’d like to interview, it repeatedly offered up names of bloggers. And so, the third series; Bloggers of Awesome. Yeah, it’s the BOA.
Today's guest is the multi-talented mom, wife, part-time doc, writer and blogger Lydia Kang. Her YA sci-fi novel, THE FOUNTAIN, will be published in 2013 by Dial/Penguin.
BBC: So you run an excellent blog over at The Word Is My Oyster. What made you decide to take the approach you do on your blog?
LK: I started out just writing about writing. Grammar, plot devices, my own issues with novel writing, etc. Meanwhile, I had some trouble reconciling the two halves of my work life—writing and being a doctor. I felt like they were such drastically different aspects of my existence, and I was shy about talking about my doctor-half. Then I realized, this is stupid. I should embrace it, and moreover, I should share what I know. So Medical Mondays was born, where I welcome fictional medical questions writers come up with for their stories. You wouldn’t believe how many amnesia/head trauma/gun shot wound questions I deal with. And every single one is fun and fascinating to answer. I also answer a lot of Medical Mondays email that comes my way and much of it doesn’t end up on the blog.
BBC: Clever title, how’d you come up with it?
LK: I wanted something catchy and odd, and I wanted to use the word “word” because of how much words had changed my life. So I played on “The world is my oyster” and voila! Unfortunately, for a while I got a lot of visitors who thought my blog was about the Bible. Sorry, no.
BBC: I know a lot of aspiring writers who are intimidated by the idea of blogging. They want to, but they are worried it will cut into their (already precious) writing time. You're a prolific blogger - how do you recommend one be both a successful blogger and writer?
LK: I struggle with the balance. There are some days of the week, like Wednesday nights, that I dedicate 100% of my evening to checking blogs and responding to comments. On dedicated writing days, I prioritize writing over checking blogs. And on Sundays, I write all three posts and get it out of the way. I also try to write brief posts (except for Medical Mondays, which often beg for detailed posts.)
There will be times when I will have writing deadlines, and so I do see a blogging hiatus or two in my future.
BBC: What other websites / resources can you recommend for writers?
LK: I got my start with the writing community and the agent hunt at Querytracker and their forums. Many of my crit partners and writing friends were found there. I still actively hang out there as MeddyK. Basically, any question you have about publication and agents and the craft can be asked and the members are kind and supportive. There are also countless blogs that discuss the craft of writing. I like to joke that the internet gave me my MFA in novel writing.
BBC: What is your genre, and what led you to it? Does your genre influence the style of your blog?
LK: I write YA. I’ve written historical, urban fantasy, and my book deal was for a near-future sci-fi. I’ve always loved YA and children’s literature but with the rising tide of new writers in the last ten years, I re-found that love and decided to try my hand writing it.
In person, I’m very jokey, playful and casual. My personality and voice is what you find on my blog. I have a pretty young-at-heart attitude (cripes, I sound old saying that, don’t I?) so it helps with writing YA too.
BBC: Do you think blogging is a helpful self-marketing tool?
LK: The answer is yes and no. It helps to be part of a great blogging community. I think other bloggers will help me get the word out about my book when the time comes, but I believe it will happen because we are friends, not because I’m being a salesperson.
If you use blogging solely for marketing, other bloggers can tell and they don’t like it. No one wants to be sold stuff 24/7. I know I don’t. They (I) want a two-way conversation. They (I) want to share a cup of virtual joe and chat. Marketing myself has become low priority for me at this point. You can probably tell from my Twitter feed. I think I have a 1:20 ratio of self-marketing to useless/fun/personal tweets. Call me financially stupid, but I’m so much happier this way.
BBC: Any words of inspiration for aspiring writers?
LK: When it comes to writing, find your support group that will weather the roller coaster of emotions that comes with being a writer. Find crit partners that will tell you the truth. Be humble, be ready to revise, and be ready to hear that sometimes, your writing sucks.
Write, write, write. Read, read, read. Whether you aim for a tradition path with agent and biggie publisher or decide to go indie with small presses or self-pubbing, set the bar very, very high for the quality of your work. And remember that every shelved novel you write and every rejection letter means you are one step closer to your goal.