Stories have arcs. Characters have arcs. Writers have arcs. We write, we get better at our craft. We read, we get better at our craft. We interact with other writers and our readers, we get better at our craft. Whether you are a professional writer or just starting out. Hobby or career. We are all in this together. Welcome.

Contact: Elena Hartwell - elenahartwell@gmail.com and visit me on the web at www.elenahartwell.com

Honoring Drusilla Campbell

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I met Dru Campbell when I was just a kid, in the early 1980s. She was the first "real" author I ever knew. Holding her books in my hands, I had the realization  actual people wrote books. Flesh and blood, living, breathing, walk-down-the-street-like-the-rest-of-us, people.

She became my role model. The person I wanted to be like. The writer I aspired to be.

When I first launched my blog, she was one of the first writers I wanted to interview. And when I finally landed my book deal, she was one of the first people I wanted to tell. The last conversation we had in person, at a party at my parents' house two summers ago, I told her my fantasy was to have her blurb my first novel. She said, she'd be honored. She had faith I would succeed.

"Tenacity," she said. "That's what will make you successful. You are going to stick with it until you make it. I know you will."

Her faith meant more to me than I could ever say.

Drusilla Campbell died on October 24, 2014. One week after I signed my contract. I like to think she knows about it anyway. I like to think, she's smiling that 1000 watt smile. I like to think she's proud of me. Mostly, I like to think she knew just how much she meant to me. A marvelous author and teacher, Dru fostered countless writers over the years. Her passion for her work, her love of words and stories and characters, will stay with us in her books, always.

But the most important thing I learned from Dru, was commitment and trust. Because of her, I learned tenacity is the most important element I bring to the table. No matter what happens, remain unshakeable. She worked on her writing for decades. Sometimes up, sometimes down, she re-imagined herself and her writing over the years, finding her greatest success not long before she died. She persevered. For the example she set, I am forever grateful.

Check back each week throughout the month of December for more posts on Drusilla Campbell, 
her life, and her writing.

A Note From My Mother...

My mother met Drusilla first, before she became a family friend. 
Here are her thoughts
Thank you Sherry L. Hartwell

Dru came into my life with her very first novels. It was early 1980. We didn’t have computers then. I had a new IBM Selectric and was free-lance typing at home—psychological theses and dissertations. What a breath of fresh air to read her stories about strong women with minds of their own who could think and fight in clever ways. The settings were early civilization with images of Greek gods and goddesses fighting battles, their lives at stake. I could not type fast enough to see how it all came out. Those characters have stayed with me. Lots of action as well as thought-out intentions of what to do in critical moments of living.

As the years went by, I have been blessed with an ongoing connection with Dru and her family, being at the Labor Day parties to celebrate her life and the life of others and conversations over dinner at each other’s home.  She encouraged and supported Elena’s writing. Later on she shared her delight of children with our grandchildren. Charlotte, Kevin, Steven and I joined the Campbells for the 2000 New Year's celebration at their home. We sat in the back yard and watched the fireworks with her family and friends. Magical. Sometimes Dru and I met for coffee where we shared our lives, our worries, wishes. She brought complex thought and hope into life.

One of Dru’s practices: When she woke up in the morning, Art brought her tea. Before getting out of bed, she wrote for ten to fifteen minutes, anything that came to mind. She was open to what was there. Her own being was the source of her inspiration. I used to do that. Time for a restart.

Joy, complexity of thought, kind caring for others, exploration, only some of the gifts she brought to me. Dru and I are only six months apart in age. Her unexpected awful illness and her death reminds me not to take anyone’s life for granted. I miss her. Today, I will begin reading In Doubt and cherish her spirit.  

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The Interview...

Continuing with my honoring of Drusilla Campbell, here are a few of her responses to my interview of her not long after I launched this blog.

Describe a typical writing day
I don't really have a typical day. Over the years I've learned to write when I can which means on a day like today when I have two meetings, I will postpone work on LITTLE GIRL GONE until afternoon. Usually, I like to start around nine with email and facebook, a glance at the headlines. By ten I'm ready to work and I keep at it until I've finished "a chunk" which in some cases means a whole chapter, other times a scene. If I have no energy and am not feeling like a writer at all, I do revisions which almost always flips the switch to on. I write every day. It's a muscle that I have to exercise daily to keep fit and responsive.

What is your biggest challenge as a writer?
There is a committee in my head that tells me that my success is all a big accident, pure luck that has nothing to do with skill or talent. I find that the best way to deal with the committee is to acknowledge it (I will probably live with self doubt my whole life and think it's a waste of energy to try to eradicate it) and then get on with the day.

What do you know now you wish you had known when you first started out?
Craft is more important than talent.

Final words of wisdom:
Read as much as you can across all genres. Learn the craft because that is what will carry you through the first draft when you don't know what you're doing, what story you're telling. And it will carry you through countless revisions by helping you understand what's good about your book and what needs to be fixed. There is a mistake many underpublished writers make. They believe that because they aim high, to be a literary writer, they don't need to worry about craft and can just follow their inspiration. Beware of inspiration that is not guided by craft. It's like setting sail on the Titanic.

Check back for More Info on Dru….