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L.A. O'Neil Interview : Page 2 of 2

L.A. O'Neil: Freelance Writer, Music Teacher, Culinary Artist

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Q: Your writing is an inspiration and your articles Meeting Miranda and Voices touch on deep and sensitive subjects. Have you found writing to be a healing outlet for yourself?

A: That's an interesting question — I don't particularly think of my writing as being a healing outlet for me. It's more of a healing outlet for others. The way I figure it, if I can help someone feel a little better about where they are in life, then it's worth the time and effort to write. So many times, everything seems bleak, with no shimmer of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. We can get so caught up in our own misery, that we forget that 'life ain't so bad,' and whatever we have thrown at us, we can handle.

And, writing is really fun!

Q: That's such an important truth — that we can handle things as they come. You talk about your diagnosis with breast cancer in "Fried Chicken and Mashed Potatoes." Tell me about the light you've discovered in your healing journey.

A: I believe that if you have strength in your convictions, a strong will and a will to survive, you can handle anything that is thrown at you. It's so much easier to have a positive outlook, rather than be a purveyor of gloom and doom. It's a lot more fun to be positive! I also believe that you make your own light at the end of the journey — it's not automatically there. My light keeps getting brighter, and for that I'm grateful.

Q: The Colorado Mountains sound glorious and it's lovely how the 'simplicity of life' fills your soul. Do you find spiritual fulfillment in connection with your creativity?

A: I don't think my spiritual fulfillment can be separated from my creativity — they have always been one and the same. I think a simple lifestyle puts you in touch with what is important in life — getting mired in frustration and the 'daily grind' isn't the way it's supposed to be! A creative light is in everyone, and the willingness to touch that light brings us closer to what we are truly supposed to be.

Q: How do you approach a writing project?

A: This is a great question! I'm consistently working on different projects at the same time, so it's important that I compartmentalize ideas and content. My process depends on what I'm writing — if it's a ghost writing project, I review any information my client provides, and then I schedule a conversation with them to go over the entire project. I have clients all over the world, and Skype makes communicating with them a breeze! I'm currently working on ghost writing projects for clients Australia, Turkey and Canada, as well as the U.S, in addition to articles for print and the internet.

After the initial conversation is done, I begin an outline of each chapter. The outline keeps me on target — I also wake up in the middle of the night with writing ideas swirling around in my little pea brain, and I try to take some notes then, as well. Once I get a good feel for how I want to write the book, I'm off and running.

I guide clients through the complete publishing process, from research to getting their book printed, or digitally printed on Kindle and other eReaders. It's such a valuable service, because if you're not familiar with the publishing process, it can make you tear your hair out! So, I act as a project manager for many clients, and it makes getting their books published much easier for them.

Q: What advice would you give others who are interested in doing freelance writing either part time or full time?

A: Dive in, face first and do it! Write small articles at first, then graduate to something with a little more meat to it. It's critical that a good writer has an excellent command of the English language, including grammar, punctuation and spelling. If you're a little rusty in those areas, there are many books on the market that can get you up to speed.

I urge beginning writers to study some writing books — the info is invaluable when it comes to defining plot, characters, etc. Read and learn as much as you can!

One thing is for sure — if you don't try, you won't accomplish anything with your writing! I also offer writing services for beginning writers — they can send me their article, etc., and I will review it and offer suggestions for improvement. It's nice to be able to help someone!

Q: What's one question you'd love to answer that I didn't ask? (And please answer it!)

A: How fun! Let's see . . . is there anything you can't do? It's kind of weird how often I get asked that question . . .

There are many things I can't do — but, I don't tell myself that I can't do them. Of course, there are physical limitations for certain things, but if it comes to using my mind and it's within my realm of expertise and experience, I will try just about anything. The cool thing is, every one of your readers can do the same thing! I try not to limit myself and my accomplishments. If you can read, you can cook. If you can sew, you can design clothes. If you are an artist, you can become an interior designer. See what I mean? Know what you can do — then do it! •

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Updated 1/10/14