How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
When I wrote my first book I wasn’t aware of these magical beings known as developmental editors. I thought I’d find an editor to correct grammar and make note of things I might have repeated, were too confusing or could be worded differently. Each time I sat down to edit I always started at page one. So pages one through fifty were extremely over-edited and the last ten pages were pretty neglected. It wasn’t until I found my editor, Chelsea, that I realized what a gift her work was to my book. My first book was a published journal. And was a very personal story. I had no idea if my experience had a traditional story arc or theme or even what was necessary to keep in the manuscript or delete. Working with my editor taught me that it’s essential to work with a developmental editor before I begin my editing and polishing process.
For my upcoming book I have rough journal entries and will craft the book after my collaboration with an editor. I also learned not to make every word dramatic and perfect. A published journal should read realistically, more conversational in nature and not overly precise or extravagant.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Currently I’m working on the journal-book from three international volunteer trips I completed in 2017. I have one spiritual/healing book outlined and have post-its covering my office door. A cook book is only meagerly in the works on paper but very clear in my mind thematically and a 10,000 word eBook on preparing for travel to Thailand is more than half finished.
Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice? Why or why not?
Absolutely, yes. Writing is not an option for me. I believe I’ve finally come to realize it is what I am meant to do. If I don’t write, I become moody, anxious and stressed. I was eleven years-old when I stated I wanted to write a book. And specifically, I wanted to write one that would help adults. But at eleven, that seemed a bit unrealistic. I started writing in a journal in high school and went on to write in college but never saw it as something I could really do as an avocation.
After my mother died I wrote my first screenplay. I wrote another screenplay, because that’s what you do the minute you finish the first one. I got very discouraged after my agent disappeared. It had taken me a long time to even get an agent. So I stopped writing but always had the longing. It wasn’t until the day I was flying back home alone after my husband told me he didn’t want to be married to me anymore that a definitive thought came to me, pick up a pen, this is your first book. And that book is helping adults.
For me, writing is as essential as breathing. And I believe it is what I’m here to do. Not paint, not cook, not play an instrument. By writing, I’m honoring the most authentic part of myself and allowing my soul to express itself.
How many hours a day do you write?
I don’t write daily. In the process of the current book, I wrote journal entries almost daily but I wasn’t putting myself on a schedule to write every day. As I approach the re-writing and editing process I may spend four to six hours at a time engaged in the work, but that won’t likely be daily. I’ve also found it essential for me to take breaks from writing. My writing process is organic. Maybe I could produce more if I scheduled time every day, but I don’t think the writing would flow.
What are your favorite literary journals?
I don’t actually read any literary journals.
What is the most difficult part of your creative process?
I’d say the most challenging part on this current book will be to decide what to omit. And that’s why working with an editor I trust will be so valuable.When you write something so personal, it can be a challenge to distance ourselves from the experience. I used to have a hard time editing, but now I settle in my writing chair with tea, light some incense, and I offer up a little prayer for guidance and then I trust in that process. I may go back and edit like that several times, and each time I’m trusting the process and asking the ego to step aside.
Do you believe in writer’s block? Why or why not?
I believe people experience writer’s block. If I wrote fiction I know I’d have writer’s block. That genre seems so foreign to me. I wouldn’t know where to begin! I haven’t experienced writer’s block but that may be due to my loose schedule and not putting pressure on myself to produce.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
This varies greatly. My first book sat for a few years before I could even start re-writing and editing due to the emotionally triggering content. I was still going through the healing process and sometimes reading my words was too overwhelming and not good for my mental health. That book began in 2010 and was published in 2015. My current journal book started in 2017 and I’d like to publish by 2019.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’m in a local writer’s group here on the Central Coast in California. Because writing is a solitary process, I enjoy meeting up with them. I learn a lot from our meetings and it’s encouraging to hear people’s good news about getting published, completing a project, winning an award or getting a book deal. I have a confession. Because I write in the journal/memoir genre, I can’t read other authors in the genre too close to when I’m going to be writing and editing. I need to keep myself clear from developing comparison-itits. I mostly read self-help, spiritual and personal development books.
What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
That’s a great question! I can’t wait to read other writer’s answers. I’m currently in a cycle where I’m not watching or reading any content on marketing, blogging or anything to do with the business of writing. In the past I’ve overdone it on watching videos and webinars, most of which are sales tools designed to have you purchase a more expensive product or service. It was getting to be more of a cause of stress than a benefit.
Works by Patty Blue Hayes
Patty Blue Hayes is grateful to have survived her near death divorce, an event that launched her into the darkest depths of depression. Patty’s award-winning book, Wine, Sex and Suicide – My Near Death Divorce, shares her story of loss, vulnerability, and eventual reawakening to her own value and worth. She moved from pain to finding purpose. Through her story she helps people not feel alone in their own painful life experiences.
Patty founded Soul Garden Healing®, to help women get through their journey of heartbreak with her signature audio program, You Can Heal Your Heartbreak™.The program is based on her book, My Heart is Broken. Now What?, offering 12 helpful practices in an easy guidebook.
She is working on another life experience book, chronicling time in Thailand at an elephant sanctuary, the Dominican Republic, where she worked at a boys and girls club, and her return to the small Romanian village of Baile Tusnad to complete her English teaching practicum to children in a group home. Follow her journey on her blog.
Learn more about Patty at her website: www.pattybluehayes.com