Diana M. Raab: Gift of a Childhood Journal Launched Her Writing Passion

Diana_Raab_nonfictionBWDiana M. Raab is a memoirist, essayist and poet. She has a B.S. in Health Administration and Journalism, and an RN degree from Vanier College in Montreal, in addition to an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Spalding University’s Low-Residency Program. She is currently a PhD Candidate at Sofia University (formerly the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology) in Palo Alto, CA.

Q. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? 

A. Yes. Ever since the age of 10 when my mother gave me my first journal. It was a beautiful red leather Kahlil Gibran journal with sayings on the top of every page.

Q. What inspires you? 

A. Life inspires me, as do emotional experiences, nature, reading wonderful writers and speaking to interesting people.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest project?

A. My latest collection of poetry to be released in early 2014 is called Lust. I am also a doctorate candidate in psychology. My dissertation will combine my passions for writing and psychology. As a writer, I have always been interested in the psychology of the mind and what makes people tick.

Q. I’ve heard that writers often bond to their characters, what does it feel like to finish a story and let go of that bond a little?

A. This happens more commonly with fiction writers than with nonfiction writers or poets. What we might get attached to is the joy of what we are writing.

Q. Do you have any advice/cure/ for the infamous “writer’s block”?

A. I don’t really believe in writer’s block. There are ebbs and flows in every profession and every act of creativity. If you are having difficulty with a particular project there are different ways to work through this. Sometimes just writing helps. You can also take advantage of this time to do a lot of reading of writers whom you admire, and do whatever inspires you. Being in nature, whether it is for an ocean walk or a hike in the mountains; it is always inspiring.  Journaling can also bring ideas and inspiration to writing.

Q. How did you get started in the writing industry and what is your best piece of advice to people interested in pursuing writing as a career?

A. I started writing at an early age and was the editor of my high school newspaper. The most important thing about breaking into the market is to be passionate about what you are writing about. If you are passionate about what you write about then your readers will be passionate about reading your work. How to break into the market depends a great deal on the genre. The best way to start is on the local level by writing letters to the editor and/or for local newspapers or magazines.

Q. What is the best food you’ve eaten in the past week?

A. Fresh lobster. Chocolate mousse.

Q. Is there anything new on your plate? What can we expect from you in the future?

A. I am always creating. Writing is my lifelong passion. There are not enough hours in the day for the ideas I have. I blog regularly for the Huffington Post and write a column for The Santa Barbara Sentinel called, “The Mindful Word.” I have a few new book ideas but I don’t want to jinx them by talking about them!

Q. What is one thing you are really looking forward to with the Summer Writing Institute?

A. Inspiring emerging and published writers to write regularly. Sharing and hearing about what others are writing. Memoir and real life stories have always fascinated me.

Q: How important is networking and social media in the field of writing?

A. Networking and social media are extremely important and it is becoming even more important. Publishers are doing less and less to promote writers, thus leaving a lot of publicity to be done by the writer. The better your network, the more chance you have for success.

Q: Do you have any practices regarding the above question that you have found successful? Any websites you swear by, any online communities that have been helpful, etc.?

A. One site or online community is not more important than the other. What matters is the combination of many to build a platform. Writers should choose sites depending upon the area of interest, whether it is poetry, history, health, biography, science, journalism or general interest. If you have published books it’s a good idea to have a Facebook page for those books. Twitter is also helpful. “Red Room” and “She Writes” are also great networking sites.

Q: Can you give us a rough breakdown of the process of writing a novel from the point of conception to having the book published and sitting on bookshelves?

A. First, you must be passionate about your subject. Second, just write without editing, and get your words out on the page. Third, find readers to read and review before sending out to editors/publishers or agents. Fourth, only submit when you are really happy with your work. Fifth and most important is be persistent. This is probably the most important trait as a writer. If you want others to believe in your work, you must believe in it first. You also need to understand that rejection is simply a part of the process. You are not being rejected as a person, but your work might not hit a chord in the reader. Do not take rejections personally. You need to develop thick skin and get used to it. Forge forward.

Q: What was the best piece of advice about writing or becoming a writer that someone has ever given you?

A. Write what you are passionate about and not necessarily what you think the market wants. Persistence pays.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you that we haven’t covered yet?

A: Love what you do and do what you love.