“Don’t be afraid to fail”: Alisha Sevigny on writing

interview with alisha sevigny author of kissing frogs1 Dont be afraid to fail: Alisha Sevigny on writingWhen Fierce Ink Press asked me to be part of Alisha Sevigny‘s blog tour for Kissing Frogs, I did what I always do – I took the time to find as much information about her online as possible. One of the things that I found was the following video in which she mentions writing a lot of poetry as she was growing up, but she didn’t start writing seriously until recently. This made me wonder, what happened to make Sevigny realize that writing novels – whether Kissing Frogs or another one – was something that she needed to do for her own happiness? Or, just as I likened Jess’ journey with the e.e. cummings’ quotation, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are” in my interview with Alisha Sevigny, what courage or understanding about herself did she have to realize before really giving novel writing a try?

Today, while Sevigny celebrates Kissing Frogs‘ book birthday, read her guest post below the Q&A video to see how she responds to my question about writing:

I’ve always loved to read and to write. As mentioned in my Q&A video, I wrote a lot of poetry while growing up. I thought some of it was pretty good. Then in university I took a creative writing course and didn’t do so great. Not terrible, but not great. As someone who was used to straight As, this was discouraging to say the least. In the poetry section, I remember my professor, a respected Canadian poet, saying that if your poems rhymed, essentially they were garbage. ALL MY POEMS RHYMED! (In hindsight they were really more song lyrics than poems). So, figuring my stuff was no good, I stopped writing fiction. I stuck to non-fiction, which I also enjoyed, and received a degree in Professional Writing. After university I traveled, settled in Toronto and took a publishing course at Ryerson. I began to work as a literary agent with a local agency, representing emerging writers.

My boss, Sam Hiyate of The Rights Factory, encouraged me to work on my own stuff. I didn’t, because I was scared that whatever I wrote, it wouldn’t be good enough. After all, who was I to call myself a “writer?” But eventually I realized that if I wanted that label, no one could claim it for me. I’d have to claim it myself. I started a few stories, but never finished them. I’d get so far, read what I wrote, think “this sucks” and stop. Then, while on vacation in Panama, I was struck with an idea for a story and started writing. But this time I was determined not to stop. This story was Kissing Frogs, and here we are.

The most important thing I tell people, who want to write, is to just do it. Don’t be afraid of your stories. Don’t be afraid to fail. And don’t stop. Not everyone will like your stuff. And that’s okay. Because there will be people out there who do. If even a handful of people get enjoyment from the words you put to paper or take away some kind of message from them, consider yourself not only a writer, but a successful one. I knew that I had stories to tell, and I’ve finally given myself permission to write them.

  3 comments for ““Don’t be afraid to fail”: Alisha Sevigny on writing

  1. deanna
    November 19, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    I grew up with Alisha and she is a pretty amazing person…I always knew she would do something great….good job Alisha …keep dreaming big

  2. May 4, 2015 at 9:12 am

    I guess it’s human nature to fear that what you create won’t be good enough. But you’re right. Just do it. Whatever the results, they will be unique, and you’ll learn something along the way.

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