Violet Nesdoly is a poet and writer whom I’ve had the privilege of working with through FellowScript. Her poetry column every issue never fails to amaze with her depth of knowledge and passion for the subject. She has written prolifically for years, contributing to her own blogs as well as to Inscribe Writers Online and Canadian Authors Who Are Christian.
Violet has lived in both Saskatchewan and British Columbia. She attended Bible school in Saskatchewan, then earned her B.Ed. at UBC in Vancouver. She spent the next five years teaching elementary school. That experience is visible in her devotional blog for kids, called Bible Drive-Thru. She’s also completed two courses from the Institute of Children’s Literature.
Violet is a wife, mother of two adult children, and grandmother to four beautiful grandchildren. She’s been freelance writing and blogging since 1997. Her book reviews, stories, devotionals, poems, and activities have been published both in print and online. Here, Violet shares more about her writing journey and what advice she’d share with other writers.
TKM: How did you become a writer?
Violet Nesdoly: When I was a kid, The Western Producer came to our house every week. It had a club called Young Co-operators for young writers. You joined with a pen name, then sent in your poems, stories and articles. If the editor liked them they’d get published on the Young Co-operators pages.
I joined sometime in my early teens. After seeing a piece or two of mine in print, I was hooked. Although I didn’t write for publication for many years between that time and when I lately returned to writing, the thought was always at the back of my mind.
TKM: What inspires you to write?
Violet Nesdoly: I get inspired to write when I read great writing of any genre—fiction, essays, poetry. There’s something inside me that wants to take up the challenge. Could I write something as beautiful, or moving, or real?
Writing how-to books inspire me too. Writers like Heather Sellers, Julia Cameron, Bonni Goldberg, Sol Stein and others encourage me and make me feel, yes, I can!
Finally, I get inspired when I fiercely disagree. I have written more than one heated blog post, letter to the editor or email to a radio call-in show when I’m hopping mad. Sometimes I think that’s when I do my sharpest work.
TKM: What author(s) do you most admire and why?
Violet Nesdoly: (Sorry, I added that ‘s’. I can’t limit myself to just one)
Alice Munro—She has an amazing ability to capture the details of setting, character and dialogue in her Canadian short stories, and to spotlight the moments of truth.
Marilynne Robinson—Her story Gilead is moving and profound yet simple and humble. I love writing like that.
Rosamund Pilcher—I adore her British characters and her settings—often in Scotland or Devon, England. Though I don’t approve of some of her characters’ morals and lifestyles, there is something about her craftsmanship that I would try to emulate if I ever attempt adult fiction.
Billy Collins—Accessible, often self-deprecating poems that are funny too. Love it!
Oswald Chambers—writer of My Utmost for His Highest. I prefer the old edition (not the revised one that updates Chambers’ word choice). Did you know he was only 43 when he died? How did he become so wise?
TKM: What blogging tips would you offer new or wannabe bloggers?
1. Focus your blog. What do you want to write about?
2. Decide on frequency and blog regularly so your readers aren’t disappointed when they come for their expected read.
3. Do a variety of posts—always with the reader in mind. We blog readers are a selfish lot. If we don’t find something of value to us (like humor, advice, news, anything relevant to us), we’ll probably soon check out.
In this vein, in addition to personal experience pieces, I’d suggest things like interviews; links to articles and resources designed to help your target audience; links to news stories that relate to your topic and your reaction to them (it’s a blog, after all); links to websites that offer help and resources to people in your community (to across Canada—if there are such organizations); reviews of books relevant to your topic; practical things you do to make your life easier; etc.
4. Publicize your blog in places where people of your age group and interest gather. By publicize, I mean read and comment on other blogs that speak of similar things. Join blog networks, and generally do some hanging out where others with your interests are found. Become one of them. Because blogging is as much about community as it is about getting people to read your posts.
5. There’s lots of advice out there about blogging. One of the best blogs on blogging is written by Darren Rowse from Australia—Problogger. He talks a lot about making money with a blog but also about getting and keeping readers, blog etiquette and a whole slew of things. Another great resource is Tanya of Blogelina.
Thanks for the great tips and advice, Violet!
If you enjoyed this interview, check out my interview with author Kimberley Payne.