Today I have Chynna Laird here today to tell us a little about how she got started writing. Chynna has written several books, and is currently on tour for her latest: White Elephants.
When I was younger, I absolutely loved to read. My uncle was a Distributor for Golden Books so I was fortunate enough to have shelves filled with books. I loved being taken into exciting new worlds, feeling the pages between my fingers and books have that undeniable smell. (You avid readers out there know what I mean, right?) I think what I loved the most is the feeling of being taken away from the chaos that surrounded me just for a little while. I guess you could say that reading saved me quite often throughout my childhood. And as I got older, I became inspired to create that wonderful feeling for others, especially for other kids like me who were searching for a safe way to escape for just a little while.
I started writing in journals. I can’t even count how many books I filled up back then. Journaling is beneficial for so many different reasons. For me it gave me a positive way to channel my emotions, a ‘safe’ place to talk about things that had happened to me as well and was the stepping-stone in learning how to tell personal essays in a way that not only packed a powerful emotional punch but in a palatable way that some readers wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.
In Grade Four, we had a publisher come to our class to teach us about the world of writing, creating and publishing books. After the short session, the publisher actually helped us publish our own short story books! We got to create a character, form a story around it, brainstormed on a cover then had the opportunity to have our books ‘published’. Okay. So we wrote the stories on printer paper, the covers were actually laminated poster board and our books were ‘published’ in the school library but for me, it sparked a love for the entire process I’d loved only as a reader until then.
My story was about a superhero named Superbug. He could outsmart, outrun and outfight anything. His only enemy was a size 12 tennis shoe, which caused his untimely demise (poor Superbug!) I remember checking on my book every week when we’d get our library time to see if anyone had taken it out. I’d be thrilled to find an extra name each time. At the end of the school year, we were supposed to take our books with us but, sadly, I left Superbug behind.
Twelve years later, my younger sister came home from school one day waving a book in the air that she’d taken out of the library. Imagine my surprise to see that it was Superbug! I guess you could say I took it as a sign writing was what I was meant to do.
From that point on, I made sure to always add writing time into my day. I still journaled but I also wrote short stories and articles that I just needed an extra confidence boost to get out to editors. While taking a writing course, I was guided to a writing contest by my writing mentor who told me to give it a try. I was excited and terrified at the same time. What if this wonderful hobby (because back then it was only a hobby) I’d always turned to for comfort wasn’t something I was meant to do after all? What if I really sucked at it and those I’d let read my stuff were just being nice to me? My writing mentor summed it up so eloquently: “If you sucked, we wouldn’t be telling you to keep writing and get it out there for others to find. We’d simply nod our heads and encourage you to keep writing for yourself, loving the joy it brings you. We want you to bring that same joy to others. You just need to believe that it will.”
Long story short (no pun intended), I submitted a story called The Gray Felt Hat to a writing contest and actually won. The judge sent a hand-written note with my very modest cash prize that simply said, “Excellent story. Now go get it published.” I told myself if I could get that story published, I’d take it as the final sign it was the path I was supposed to be on. Guess what? A few weeks later, the story was bought by Angels On Earth magazine. The rest, as they say, is history. I don’t think I’ve accomplished everything I’m meant to and it still feels strange to be to be considered a ‘professional writer’. I see myself more as a person who loves to read, write stories and bring joy to others through my words. I acknowledge that have been incredibly fortunate in what I’ve been able to achieve so far and I don’t take a single thing for granted. I stay focused, keep myself challenged and never allow someone to take my dream away.
I still have days filled with self-doubt, we all do. But on those days my writing mentor’s words ring in my ears and I become that excited little girl in awe of the publishing industry who created a little superhero other kids loved to read about. And that’s what keeps me moving forward on my writing journey.
About Chynna Laird:
CHYNNA LAIRD – is a freelance writer and multi award-winning author. Her passion is helping children and families living with Sensory Processing Disorder and other special needs. She’s authored a children’s book, two memoirs, a Young Adult novella, a YA paranormal suspense novel and an adult Suspense/Thriller.
White Elephants – A Memoir by Chynna Laird
Elephant in the middle of the living room–that is one way of explaining how a family walks around the invisible presence of huge problems. Hindsight is what brings the elephant into focus.
Somehow at the innocent age of five Tami began to see the bulky creature crowding her family and took on a sense of responsibility far beyond expectation for her age. Her mother was different than other mothers. Family life in their household was not pretty. No one seemed to notice. No one did anything about it, and Tami wanted someone to do just that. As an adult Tami took on her first name, Chynna, and took up the challenge to find out what might have helped her mother fight her battle of self-destruction. She couldn’t help her mother, but she would consider it worth everything if her family’s story helped another.
This candid memoir is a story of one girl’s struggle to deal with her mother’s alcoholic/bipolar condition–the white elephant no one else would see. With a conversational tone, Laird shares her remarkable story of abuse, survival, and her triumphant recovery into becoming a healthy, well adjusted wife and mother. Tastefully written, this book will touch your heart. It offers hope that, no matter where you come from, life is what you make it.