I’m so excited to have author Kelly Irvin on the blog today. Kelly is chatting with us today about her writing process and her latest release Upon a Spring Breeze. Take it away, Kelly!
What inspired your latest story?
I wrote Upon a Spring Breeze during a difficult period in my life that resulted in a great deal of introspection over the concept of suffering and why it exists. In December 2015 I was diagnosed with Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS). In January 2016, I learned that I have Stage IV ovarian cancer. The loss of my mobility and the turmoil that goes with a cancer diagnosis filled me with grief that poured out in my story. Bess and Aidan must work through their grief at a terrible loss in order to find renewed faith in God’s plan for them. Upon a Spring Breeze is a story about how strong we become when we rely on God in our brokenness.
What is your writing process like?
It’s more of a lack of process. LOL. My process has become more focused as the years go by, but I’m still a seat-of-the-pants writer. I know what I want to say, where I want to start and where I think I’ll end, but I usually have no idea what happens in the middle. I don’t do outlines or character sketches. My propensity to jump off the cliff with no parachute does get me in trouble, but I eventually rein it all in. Like many writers, I often discover where the story is going while I’m doing something else, like exercising or washing dishes or taking a shower. I might write a chapter and the next morning wake up to find that something totally new has developed. Or something I wrote earlier makes no sense. I do a lot of rewriting and revising, but I enjoy it and don’t consider it wasteful. The best stuff comes out in the revisions.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I have a daughter who just turned 27, so I often think about the terrible mistakes I made when I was in my twenties. I would kick myself in the behind and tell myself to stop following the crowd, to start focusing on what was truly important. I consider my twenties a lost decade. I advanced in my career but lost myself in poor choices. I’d focus more on writing and less on having a good time. I would tell myself that life is incredibly short so don’t wait to go after those dreams. I’d tell myself to get back to my roots of faith and church. To forgive sooner and let the hurts of my childhood go.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received for writing?
It was a three-parter that came from an appointment with Christian author DiAnn Mills at my very first writing conference. I had finished my first manuscript and received some positive feedback from an editor at a major CBA publishing house. DiAnn knew the editor and she said he wouldn’t give that kind of advice if he didn’t see promise in my writing. She told me to do three things: Join American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), join a critique group and really work on honing my craft, and go to the ACFW national writing conferences. It’s excellent advice for any Christian fiction writer. My advice? Write. Keep your behind in the chair and fingers on the keyboard. Write, write, write. Then revise, revise, revise. And write some more!
Are you an introvert or extrovert?
An introvert, definitely. It took a long time to come to terms with it. I chose a career in newspaper reporting and found myself not really suited for it. I didn’t like asking strangers questions, but I loved writing for a living. It’s fabulous to write about different topics and events every day. I learned a great deal and worked through some of my fears because I had no choice. Then I jumped into public relations, another profession tailor made for extroverts. I was told that I was unfriendly by a co-worker. Not good for a PR person! I’m not unfriendly, just reserved. The best thing about being an introvert is that you are comfortable by yourself. I’m retired now and I write for a living at home. I don’t mind being in the house alone all day. I like it. I don’t mind silence. It works for me when I’m deeply involved in a story. I enjoy writing and reading and thinking on my own. I love my job now!