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2013 Twenty Questions Interview : Charlotte Rains Dixon

20 Questions Interview
with Charlotte Rains Dixon

Writing Coach, Novelist, Blogger, Journalist


Charlotte Rains Dixon1. What's your name?

Charlotte Rains Dixon.

2. Where are you from?

Portland, Oregon.

3. Who are you today?

I am a writer, through and through—novelist, blogger, journalist, and journaler. I also teach writing and coach writers.

4. What do you do? (Elevator speech)

I write stories about smart, saucy, and spiritual women in the midst of transformation—and I also help people who want to creatively transform their own lives.

5. What's your story (how did you get here)?

I'm that rare creature who had a mostly happy childhood. My parents, God love 'em, were older, and tired by the time I came along (I was the last of four girls), and so they left me to my own devices most of the time. That was fine with me—I filled my time with creative pursuits like writing, drawing, and knitting. I've been a writer in one form or another all my life—I recently found some very childish poems I'd written and illustrated when I was about seven. In elementary school, I was one of the nerdballs who loved writing reports. I remember waiting in hushed anticipation to find out which planet I would get to write about. (For the record, it was Uranus.) In college I made the lovely discovery that there was actually a writing major with some degree of practicality to it, and so I got a degree in journalism. Though I briefly harbored dreams of becoming a hard-nosed newspaper reporter, instead I got pregnant. While my kids were little I free-lanced, then got my MFA and added writing coaching and teaching to my resume. I discovered blogging in 2007, and have been enjoying it ever since. My first novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, was published in February of 2013. Like so many writers, I enjoy a multi-faceted career and I wouldn't have it any other way.

6. Why is creativity important to you?

Because when I'm involved in a creative act, I lose track of all time and I am filled with joy. As Julia Cameron says, we are most like our creator when we are creating—and I believe it is what we are put here on earth to do as we evolve ourselves as humans.

7. When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?

I had dabbled in writing (pretty seriously, but still dabbling) until one year when I got really, really ill. When I rose from my sick bed a couple months later I did a life review and realized that while I had accomplished many things I was proud of, what I most wanted to do was write stories—novels, mostly, but also short fiction. This was my creative calling.

8. How did you embrace it?

I went back to school to earn my MFA in creative writing. This allowed me to focus solely on my writing for an intense period of two years.

9. How did that feel?

Amazing. I loved being a part of a vital creative community of fellow writers who were just as passionate about putting words on the page as I was.

10. Where has your journey taken you?

It has taken me to places I never imagined—such as my teaching job in Nashville, my active coaching practice, and getting a novel published. I've met wonderful people along the way and most importantly, I get to feel creative wonder every day when I sit down to write stories.

11. What challenges have you faced?

Overcoming self-doubt, persevering to get published, struggling to find a way to earn a living at writing.

12. What worked for you?

Putting my own writing first, and manning up to have the confidence to do this. Everything else magically falls into place when I do.

13. What didn't work for you?

Doing what I thought I should do (focus nearly all of my energy on teaching) and ignoring my writing.

14. What three tips can you share to help others starting on a similar path?

  1. Write every day, or as often as you can. This gives you momentum and keeps your project uppermost in your mind, which in turn gives your subconscious something to chew on. Even if you only have 15 minutes, take your WIP out and look it over, maybe jot some notes.
  2. Read everything you can get your hands on, especially books that are similar to what you want to write. I'm deeply suspicious of people who say they want to write but never read. You must read to learn the tropes and traditions of your genre. I feel like the more words I inhale, the more I can put out onto the page.
  3. Persevere. It will probably take you awhile to break in and get published, but keep at it. All those stories you hear about authors submitting to a million agents are sometimes true. But who knows, you just might be one of the lucky ones. Either way, stick with it. The rewards are great.

15. What are you working on now?

A new novel and several short stories. I'm also a prolific blogger on writing and related topics (like motivation), and I'm thinking about going back to magazine journalism as well.

16. What's coming up for you in the next year?

I want to finish this novel I'm in the midst of, publish several short stories, and I'm going to be teaching a new, expanded version of my Get Your Novel Written Now class.

17. What else do you desire/dream to do?

I want to start an online program to help women transform themselves into smart, saucy, and spiritual females who are ready to take on the world.

18. How will you make that happen?

Hard work and focus.

19. What one question would you like to answer that hasn't been asked?

Where do you get your ideas?

Everywhere! Ideas are in the ether, waiting for us to discover them. It is up to the writer (or artist) to be open and receptive to what's happening in the world. I tell my students to become great observers and listeners. Let others do the talking and you'll be amazed at what you learn.

20. What's your blog address?

Charlotte Rains Dixon's Wordstrumpet at •