Today I’m very pleased to bring you this interview with dream chaser, Christina Katz. Christina is a published author, sought-after teacher, and popular speaker. I had the privilege of attending one of her workshops in New York City and was honored when she agreed to do an interview for Beyond the Gray.
Q: Tell us about yourself and your dream.
CK: When I finished the coursework for my MFA in writing from Columbia College Chicago, my dream was to make my living as a working writer. Today, I am triply blessed to make my living as an author, teacher, and speaker.
I’ve written hundreds of articles and two books, Writer Mama (Writer’s Digest 2007) and Get Known Before the Book Deal (Writer’s Digest 2008). I’ve taught hundreds of students how to write for publication from beginner to book deal. I get to see my students write well, get published, and even land book deals. I get to go out and connect face-to-face with writers at writing events and conferences.
Q: What kinds of challenges stood in your way and how did you overcome them?
CK: One of my absolute favorite things to do is brainstorming with writers I meet when I’m speaking or teaching live, getting to teach others is a great feeling, you get to pass on what you know to people who want to learn more, some are teachers who want to add to what they know so that they can better be their for their students, this is why online classes and courses for teachers can also be used alongside my teachings to be another way that they can help themselves. As much as I love chatting with other writers in-person, it would be unrealistic for me to be so available on a daily basis and still meet my deadlines. So managing my time has been a big challenge and I’m always trying to improve according to the reality of my daily work life.
Also the learning curve for writing for publication can be pretty steep. I think a lot of people think, “Well, I like writing and I write well, so I maybe should be a professional.” While it’s true that the entry fee for professional writing is low compared to many other professions, it’s a mistake to think writing at the professional level doesn’t cost anything.
I’ve invested thousands of dollars in my writing career over the years, including an MFA, additional classes, workshops, and conferences, not to mention professional memberships, books, and services. Another challenge I’ve overcome is recognizing that I get back ten fold on what I invest…assuming I put everything I’ve learned behind my dollars.
If you invest nothing, you pretty much get nothing back. Nothing ventured, nothing published. But once you get used to investing that time, energy, and money on a regular basis, you start to see positive results. And that’s always exciting.
Q: Now that you’re living your dream, what’s next?
CK: I’m not sure I’d use the expression “living my dream” because I think it’s implies that I’m just kicking back, hardly working, and printing my own money.
Here’s the reality of the working writer’s life: you’ll spend countless hours on honing your craft, pitching your work, building your platform, and ongoing professional development…about the same amount of effort of almost any independent business person.
If this takes a little of the romance out of writing for a living, I think that’s okay because this career is not for the feint of heart. Nathalie Goldberg wasn’t kidding when she said that writing success takes “great determination.” Everything I have ever accomplished as a writer has meant drawing from my deep well of determination and making sure I keep the well replenished.
But you asked, “What’s next?” I’m still waiting for the marching orders on that one. I won’t know what’s next until the direction becomes evident. But that’s okay, I just wrote two books back-to-back and it’s not like I don’t have anything to do.
Q: What advice do you have for other people struggling to pursue their dreams?
CK: Become very practical about your dreams. Don’t fall into the fantasy of becoming “discovered.” The bottom line is that there isn’t a successful person in the world, who doesn’t work extremely hard (and anyone who tries to sell you on something different is not telling the truth).
When you enjoy what you do, then work is pleasurable. You get to do enjoyable work when you can hold the conflicting idea that the career you’ve always longed for isn’t in the future. Instead it’s accomplished by taking specific concrete steps today…and enjoying the journey.
Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform (Writer’s Digest Books). She started her platform “for fun” seven years ago and ended up on “Good Morning America.” Christina teaches e-courses on platform development and writing nonfiction for publication. Her students are published in national magazines and land agents and book deals. Christina has been encouraging reluctant platform builders via her e-zines for five years, has written hundreds of articles for national, regional, and online publications, and is a monthly columnist for the Willamette Writer. A popular speaker at writing conferences, writing programs, libraries, and bookstores, she hosts the Northwest Author Series in Wilsonville, Oregon. She is also the author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (Writer’s Digest Books).
Are you actively pursuing or living a dream? If so, I’d love to hear from you! Please e-mail me at: Erika (dot) Liodice (at sign) hotmail (dot) com.