Dayna Mazzuca opens the door to her Victoria, BC townhouse with a welcoming smile. Her home is quiet and warm in the week before Christmas, and Sunshine and Lily take off their coats and shoes and disappear upstairs with Dayna’s eight-year-old daughter. Dayna slices Christmas cake and brews tea while we chat about my classes and her kitchen renovations. Then we sit down to talk about writing and her recent Chicken Soup for the Soul stories.
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TKM: What inspires you to write?
Dayna Mazzuca: I’ve gravitated lately to a devotional writing, which makes me feel like a duck in water. I really love devotional writing and I really love poetry.
Poetry is more of a need to write, wanting to process what’s happening inside me and any revelations I feel God is trying to shine a light on. It doesn’t have to be something beautiful—it can be something hard or dark too, but he brings things to the surface all the time. One of the joys of writing is being able to capture that and get it down on paper and feel that you’ve got something really amazing and revelatory on paper in a concrete form. I love that.
[Watching Jade attempt to pound her fingers on my Netbook keyboard:] I often feel when I’m typing that I’m composing music—I feel like I would feel if I was a pianist working on a song. I’m an artist composing and it’s part of how God made me.
I’m way more relaxed when I get to write than when I’m doing other things, even parenting–and I love my kids—but I’m way more relaxed if I have a day to write. I can do the rest of my life much better. The journalistic writing is just a skill which I learned in the salt mines of the newspaper world, and that’s not close to my heart, but it’s a good skill to have that translates into other kinds of writing.
Writing is like a pool; there’s a shallow end and a middle end and a deep end, and when you’re in your favourite part of writing you’re way out in the ocean, but the idea of getting wet is necessary to a writing.
TKM: How do you find time to write as a homeschooling mom?
Dayna: Great question! Let me know when you get the answer to that one! [laughs]
I don’t find the time; I make the time or my husband gives me the time. If I have to take the time, then I do our schooling in the morning and send my kids upstairs to do extra computer time (they have very limited computer time) or watch a movie. Normally I have a writing day while they have a community class on Tuesday mornings. In the afternoon, I have something low-key for them to do so I can keep writing.
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TKM: Tell us about this book of poems.
Dayna: I started to write poetry when we moved out here [four years ago]. I found the coast really conducive to poetry writing and I went into a whole season of writing poetry. This will be my first book of poems, but I don’t think I have enough poems published in traditional literary journals to go to a publisher to get a book put together.
[While we chat, Dayna’s husband arrives home with a surprise for her: the proof for her new poetry chapbook from the UVic Espresso book machine.]
Poetry classes or writing classes are a big source of inspiration. When you can get around a community of writers who value writing for writing, that’s inspiring. Carolyn Arends at Write! Vancouver talked about creativity and the block that comes when other people are around; a lot of people need to write alone. I totally need to write alone. I can be in a coffee shop but I can’t be in relationship with anybody that I’m writing around.
TKM: Tell us about your stories in the Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies.
Dayna: I did a writing circle for women on Ecclesiastes 3, and the seasons of life was our creative writing prompt. My piece in Devotional Stories for Wives was from that prompt. When I go through the Chicken Soup for the Soul topics, I try to pull out something I’ve done already or write to the topic (I’ve submitted something for every topic they’ve done).
For Just Us Girls, I wrote to the topic. I thought and thought and thought until I had one object. I write from objects, for non-devotional writing, and I wrote about a broken tea cup that a girlfriend had kept. I use the object as a metaphor, instead of character, and build around the metaphor.
I believe two things are necessary in a writer’s journey. It’s necessary as a writer to be published (whether you get paid for it or not—but you should like the publication) and to get paid. Getting paid is a concrete form of affirmation.
There’s something about getting paid for your writing that is a very important. You see this in publications that pay for their heat and coffee and internet service but not the stories they print—so there’s no value put on the writing. With the proliferation of digital media, there’s more value being put on good content because of that necessity of separating the wheat from the chaff.
I think it’s even more important than ever for a writer to be paid for their writing because there’s so much free content, but it’s also harder than ever for a writer to be paid. The challenge is finding out how to be paid—that used to be very clear and now it’s very hard, but if writers can hold the line and say I will be paid, then we will do the world a favour.
My next step as a writer is to be published in a book by a traditional publisher, whether on parenting or poetry or spiritual disciplines.
More about Dayna Mazzuca
Dayna Mazzuca is a professional, Christian communicator. She’s also a former journalist, long-time writer, instructor, marketer and workshop facilitator. She has a passion for empowering others, motivating creative types and writing poetry. She has written seven books of poetry, including peace: poems for the spiritual journey and in the stillness of time: a book of poems. Dayna is also the author of a book about communication for those who are in the business of reaching others through their words: Write to be Read, Speak to be Heard: a communication guide to the five filters.