Today on the blog, Tamara Woods, is stopping by following the release of her book, Blood Roses and Honeysuckles, which just came out yesterday, to talk about her creative process. I first met Tamara back in 2015 (ish?) when I joined the writing and book-loving community on YouTube, and she’s a freaking rock star. Not only does she write amazing poetry and fiction, but she makes a ton of great videos on YouTube about reading and writing, she hosts a weekly Twitter writing chat (#writestuff) on Tuesday nights, and she’s always coming up with video collaborations and ways for us writers to all support each other. I admire her so much, and I’m so excited that she’s stopping by!
So here you go, everyone, an interview with Tamara Woods!
Tamara Woods doesn’t spend her time sipping on Mai Tais on the beach. In fact by living in Hawaii, she’s found that she’s more of a mountain person than a beachy one. Must be her West Virginia roots. Maybe that’s why there’s such a strong call to small towns and country living in her books whether they’re women’s literature or cozy mysteries. She likes to talk about writing and books on her YouTube channel. She hosts a weekly Twitter called #writestuff where writers talk about writing. She is the author of the poetry collection, The Shaping of an ‘Angry’ Black Woman. And she is consistently working on the next novel. She’s a hillbilly hermit in Honolulu living with her Mathmagician.
What is your main form of creative expression?
My favorite form of creative expression has always been the written word. As soon as I realized that the stories my mom read to me were written by other people, I wanted to try it out myself. I’ve been concentrating lately on writing novels, but in the past, I’ve written a lot of short stories and poetry as well.
Do you work as an artist/creative full-time or do you have a different day job?
I jumped feet first into writing full-time.
How long have you been creating music/books/plays/films/etc.?
I’ve been writing stories in one form or another since childhood. I’ve been writing full-time since 2012. I had pulmonary embolism, which means I had blood clots in my lungs. I was hospitalized for weeks and I had a breathing machine for months afterward. I realized, if I wanted to make writing my reality and not just a dream, then I needed to start now. Tomorrow’s promised to no one.
How do you handle the pressures of creativity being your job?
It’s hard for me to strike a balance. I find myself working at ridiculous hours in the morning. And I find myself feeling guilty if I haven’t finished everything, if I didn’t get XYZ done, if I admit that I’m tired and I need to relax. But the real tea is, there’s always something else to write, another thing to promote, one more video to edit. So much to do, but there’s only one me. I’m trying to learn that if I don’t take care of myself, my body is going to make me slow down, whether I like it or not. I try to take weekly social media breaks, I’ve been learning how to say “no” more, and I’ve been trying to admit when I need to a break—and actually take it.
Do you engage in any additional creative hobbies? Are there any you’d like to try?
I journal, but it’s more to give myself a place to vent just for myself. I have a lovely hardbacked journal that I like to write it. It makes my sometimes silly words feel so official.
I started creating YouTube videos about five years ago. I wanted to connect with other readers and writers and to do something different. I don’t have a film background, so making these videos has been a fun challenge.
Who are some other artists and creatives that inspire you to create?
I surround myself in my digital life with other writers. I don’t have many people in my IRL who share my goals and my dreams. I have a group of friends who get together and gripe and do writing sprints. I have my friends who chat with me at my tweetchat #writestuff, who share their experiences with me. It’s motivating to hear about other people’s experiences, to see them making advances, and to read their work. It keeps me going on the day-to-day.
Why do you create?
I love it. It’s as natural to me as breathing. I wouldn’t know who I was if I didn’t create things. When I fall into depression and I can’t produce anything, I feel lost.
What advice do you have for other creatives?
Don’t step into your own way. You have a something that you want to do, pursue. Take the time to make it happen. Creating isn’t easy, but the things that matter most rarely are. Don’t give up on yourself.
What are you working on right now?
My women’s fiction novel blood roses & honeysuckles was just released on Thursday! I’m absolutely over the moon.
Here’s that synopsis:
Addy and Bernie are best friends living in small town in southern West Virginia. They are facing down the demons of their past. Addy wakes up from an almost fatal accident and has forgotten her past; Bernie’s been living a lie that her past won’t let her forget. Once they’ve sorted through the rubble of their memories, will their friendship withstand the fire, or will it burn down to the ground?
Blood Roses and honeysuckles is a tale of love and loyalty, self-indulgent carelessness and what happens when intentions are true even in the methods aren’t.
And I’m going to move onto working on my first cozy mystery that will be hitting an Amazon near you just in time for the holidays.
Where can people find you and your work?
I’m most often on Twitter: @penpaperpad
Second is probably YouTube, though I’ve been sporadic lately: youtube.com/c/tamarawoods
My Facebook: http://facebook.com/TamaraWoodstheWriter
But if you really want to hear about my writing, any giveaways, etc first, join my newsletter: bit.ly/TamaraGazette
Thanks so much for letting me pick your brain, Tamara! Your new novel sounds amazing, and I can’t wait to read it!