Cecilia Kennedy studied literature from Spain at The Ohio State University, where she earned her doctorate degree in 2000. She was an associate professor of English and Spanish at a community college in Ohio for the past ten years before moving to the Greater Seattle area. These days, she is busy “hammering and sifting” her way through DIY projects that may include any of the following: light home repair, crafts, cooking, exercise, travel, and photography.
Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?
I just subscribed to “Freedom With Writing” for free. I get all kinds of updates about writing opportunities. It’s the best e-mail newsletter I’ve ever signed up for. I’ve found the information to be trustworthy and there are lots of interesting opportunities I haven’t tried yet. That’s how I found Theme of Absence.
What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
My bookshelves mostly contain memoirs and non-fiction works. However, of the works of fiction I do have, I will always enjoy Miguel de Unamuno, Jeannette Walls, Michelle Huneven, Alice Sebold, and a collection of stories by Alexander MacLeod called Light Lifting.
How do you measure success when it comes to your writing?
I ask myself: Did I write something today? Did I like it? If I did, then there’s hope that someone else will too. And, there’s great pleasure in just accomplishing something—anything in a day.
What tips do you have for finding time to write?
I set small goals for myself and try to accomplish them each day. If I go to my son’s swim practices or weight-lifting practices and stay, then I’m almost forced to write. Swim meets are a great time to get a lot of writing done.
Are you an outliner or discovery writer? Or somewhere in between?
I think my process is somewhat slow, but effective for me. I usually put down a draft that is somewhat like an outline. I write it out in ink in a notebook first and then I type it up, editing as I go. Then, I print it out and keep adding to it. Sometimes, I eliminate 2/3 of it and start over with just the “kernel” idea. When I think I have something I like, I usually find things I could change—even after I’ve submitted or had the work published, but that’s what I like about writing. It’s a process that doesn’t have to end or be absolutely perfect.
How do you deal with rejections?
At first, I would usually feel embarrassed. I’d think that perhaps my submission was so bad that editors were secretly making fun of it before rejecting it. But I realize now that submissions get rejected for all kinds of reasons and that I should just keep creating and submitting to a variety of journals, magazines, and publishing outlets. Eventually, my work might click with someone.
Do you participate in any online or in-person critique or writing groups?
It’s kind of strange. I’ve spent the past 10-20 years as an instructor—either in Spanish or English. In this role, I’ve helped lead small groups and critique writing for students, but I’ve not really formed or joined any groups for myself. I think I was so busy teaching that I didn’t have the time to sit down and write in a disciplined way. I could get conference proposals out. Sometimes, I’d try to get journal articles out, but those would rarely be accepted. Then, the whole rhythm of teaching and lesson planning would kick in and I would put my writing on the back burner. Now that I’m working part-time online and in a new state/city, I feel like I have a little more freedom and time to write and find new groups.
What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
I’m hoping to write a longer piece—a novel—my first. I’m almost done with the draft, but it needs lots of critiquing and revision. Once I think I have it in order, I will definitely locate a writing group in my area and start sharing. I just don’t feel like I have enough material right now to jump into the critique phase yet.
What book(s) are you reading right now?
Mostly I’m reading how-to books: blogging, WordPress, marketing/copywriting, and basic HTML/CSS that one manual promises to teach me in a day. We’ll see! My fourteen-year-old has re-introduced me to Stephen King, so I’m reading his Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales.
Is there anything you’d like to plug?
Feel free to share a link. I’d love to have more visitors to my DIY blog—just to get some feedback and interaction going: https://fixinleaksnleeksdiy.blog/ I’m more than happy to visit others’ blogs as well. There’s a lot of good stuff out there.