Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Interview with Harriet Tramer

Harriet Tramer has worked for more than three decades as both a journalist and an instructor. Her latest book, Rounding the Circle of Love, was recently released from Ladybug Press. Read on for Harriet's insights about writing, caregiving, getting published, and more!

What have you learned through your years as a journalist and instructor?

During that period of time, one thing became increasingly more obvious to me. These professions have much in common as they both demand communication skills, something I have long struggled to hone. If you want to succeed in either of these fields, you must deliver a message that resonates with you. But that is only part of the picture. You must also learn to intuit what others are ready to hear. Otherwise, your words might "fall on deaf ears."

Tell us about Rounding the Circle of Love. What was the impetus to write this book?

I was a caregiver for my mother (now deceased) who drew the picture on the cover of my book. And that experience taught me that handling these "responsibilities" can prove very stressful. So, I wanted to write a book that would offer caregivers some guidelines There are no easy answers when it comes to caregiving or anything else in life. But I tried to present suggestions that would make their challenges more manageable.

In writing the book, I relied not only upon my background as a caregiver. I also brought into play my journalistic "skills" as I interviewed people with expertise in different fields and molded their comments into an approachable document.

How did you first discover your love for writing?

I could point to any eureka moment when I first discovered my love for writing. It is just something that has always been part of me. I am not driven to write by some inner compulsion. Rather, I do it as a matter of course like I get up in the morning and get dressed.

What is your writing routine? Do you write every day? Do you have a certain time or place you write?

When I am being disciplined, I write early in the morning, starting at 4 am. But I must confess that more often than not, the Internet wins out over my best intentions. Turning it on, I become lost in a tumble of on line newspapers that somehow seem more welcoming than the empty page I would face if I started writing, for example, an essay.

Is there anything you wish you could tell your younger self about your writing life? What is your biggest advice for kids and teens just starting out?

If I could magically go into a time machine and tell my younger self what I have learned over the years about writing, my advise would be sorely outdated. These days everything must be crisp and concise. Eloquence and erudition often lose out in the race to make every word count. And things are moving more and more in that direction, with Twitter and other means of communicating demanding you say more with less. A sign of the times: There are even novels weaved together from text messages.

What do you hope readers take away from Rounding the Circle of Love?

My major message to caregivers: You can accomplish things you had always figured were out of your realm. Caregivers have to be a jack of all trades - companion, nurse, financial adviser. And more often than not, they rise to the occasion by excelling at things at a broad breadth of things.

What was the journey to publication like for you?

It was much easier than I ever expected it would be. The internet worked its wonders and I found a publisher - Ladybug Press of Sonora, California - in no time.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Caregiving can be a positive experience that helps you gain self-confidence as you see yourself making a major difference in somebody else's life and discover your hidden talents. But it can also be very depleting if you do not become your own caregiver along the way.

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