Monday, August 30, 2010
MWG Spotlight: Joy Wooderson
The germ of the idea dropped into my mind and heart around 2000. I had discovered after 13 years of business writing that I enjoyed the creative process, and I felt the urge to write about what I had learned on my spiritual quest. However, personal writing is a giant step away from business writing. I realized I had a lot to learn. My library expanded as I gathered books about the craft of writing personal stories.
It took my moving to St. Louis in 2004 to really spur me on. My original manuscript was cut, the story was split, then put together, then edited, then expanded, then it changed course, and I finally published the story of my spiritual journey in 2009.
This is your story. Did you have any apprehension about sharing your story with others?
Major apprehension! I remember sitting at a friend’s kitchen table crying my eyes out over fear of making myself so vulnerable to criticism and even ridicule from people who knew me. The scariest aspect was the fact that I challenged many accepted theories being spread and accepted without question in the modern religious world—and I didn’t have a D.D. or Ph.D. behind my name. I was merely an ordinary woman with an inquiring mind who decided to test inherited beliefs. My commitment to be candid and painfully honest about my experiences made my struggle worse. It took several years before I plucked up the courage to fully bare my soul in the book.
What do you hope to accomplish about sharing your story?
Not fame, certainly. Writing my story was never an ego trip—far from it. In fact, the thought of putting myself “out there” for book signings, speaking, or talking about the book was daunting. And it looks like it won’t be money, either! I’m still waiting for funds for my next cruise. Although I had many obstacles to overcome, the conviction that I had something worthwhile to share with others who might be searching for a spiritual connection kept me from giving up. I wanted to write a book that would make the reader think about their religious beliefs, and hopefully take a fresh look at Christianity, as I did.
What do you want people to know about you that wasn’t in your story?
There’s another whole book waiting to be written about that—if I can pluck up more courage. But for now, enough to say that the woman I am today is almost unrecognizable from the inhibited, disillusioned, insecure young woman who arrived in the U.S. in 1971 at age 32. To play on the title of my book, I found Joy again—the happy child who started out so joyfully and whose life went down hill after age seven.
What type of writing schedule do you have?
I’m a thinker, whose mind seldom rests. I do a lot of sitting and watching leaves grow or mindlessly gazing at the television. But when I’ve got my thoughts together, I can sit and write for hours and completely lose track of time. I would say my schedule is erratic, and at times productive.
You belong to a critique group. What advice can you offer to others who are looking for a critique group?
Finding a good critique group is essential for anyone who wants to pursue writing seriously. My advice is to do whatever is necessary to connect with like-minded folks, either in person or online, who can point out flaws in your writing or bring to your attention habits of which you are unaware. More than that, a good group will share what they have learned from conferences, seminars, etc. And most importantly, they will be there to encourage you along the challenging path of becoming a writer.
Do you prefer to read non-fiction or fiction? And why?
I’ve had to read a lot of non-fiction books about the craft of writing, plus I studied many books covering the issues with which I had to deal. But when I want to escape and get my mind absorbed in something unrelated to writing, I read mysteries and spy novels. However, I remain discriminating in my taste and stick with authors who know the art of language and have the ability to tell an engrossing story. I’m off serial killers.
How do you tackle writer’s block?
I don’t worry about writer’s block. When I hit a dry patch in writing Finding Joy, I let the manuscript rest while I went off to do some serious leaf watching. As I freed my mind from the pressure of worrying about not writing, the thoughts started percolating. Sometimes, new ideas sent me off in a different and often better direction.
What are you working on now?
Way back in my mind is the next book, the story of my search for identity and place, and the roles South Africa and the U.S.A. played in instigating that search.
I self-published Finding Joy: One Woman’s Journey Back to Faith, and all that I learned in the process prompted me to write an e-booklet, Ten Hidden Facts About Self-Publishing, which is available from Amazon’s Kindle Store and from www.Smashwords.com. Incidentally, anyone who does not have a Kindle can download Amazon’s free Kindle for PC application.
The surge in self-publishing made me aware of the need for experienced proofreaders (of which I am one). So I’ve created a service for writers called “Making Your Submissions Exceptional.” Details can be found at my second website, http://www.writerjoy.com/.
Joy Wooderson was born and reared in the port city of Durban, South Africa. In 1971 she emigrated to the U.S., settling in Atlanta, Georgia.
Joy is the author of Finding Joy: One Woman’s Journey Back to Faith. She writes creative nonfiction and her essays have been published in The Truth About The Fact: International Journal of Literary Nonfiction, A Cup of Comfort for Christians, Friends: Stories of Friendship, the 2006 Mid Rivers Review, and the Cuivre River Anthology, Volumes II and III. Her articles include “My Favorite Injury,” Travelers’ Tales Solas Awards Elder Travel category winner, 2007.
In 2004, her adventurous spirit drew her to O’Fallon, Missouri, where she enjoys involvement with The Scribes’ Tribe critique group, Saturday Writers, and MWG.
She loves good food but is totally inept in the kitchen. Sports car fanatic (owned five Pontiac Firebirds in varying colors), daydreamer and adventurous world traveler (twenty-five countries to date). No husband, no children, no pets. Housekeeping ability questionable. Maybe this explains the no husband bit?
You can find Joy at http://www.joywooderson.com/ and http://www.writerjoy.com/.