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Chatting with Linda O’Connell

Chatting with Linda O’Connell

by Diana Davis, Walrus Contributor

Linda O'Connell

After hearing local writer Linda O’Connell read her essay “The Rise and Fall of a Famous Name” from St. Louis Reflections: An Anthology by the St. Louis Writers Guild at the December 13 release party, I was eager to check out her website, Write from the Heart. I learned that Linda has been published in 13 Chicken Soup for the Soul books, two Patchwork Paths, as well as the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Chicago Tribune, the Suburban Journal, the Reader’s Digest, and Parent’s Magazine, among others. She also is the recipient of numerous writing awards and was named a member of distinction of the Missouri Writers Guild. I recently chatted with Linda about her background, her process and her success.Your family moved frequently during your formative years. How did those moves affect you?

My free-spirited parents didn’t put down roots. Many people my age who have had similar life experiences ended up in the creative arts. I think being the new kid on the block and in the school makes one resilient.

Were you an avid reader?

I did frequent libraries and enjoyed reading adventure stories, but I played with my brother more than I read. As children we had wonderful outdoor adventures, planned great escapes, plotted revenge against one another, and tattled constantly. We devised our own games and fun. I was always the bossy big sister. We are close supportive siblings now.

What kind of books do you like to read now?

I read up to three books at one time. I am diverse. I like humorous period pieces set in the fifties by authors such as Fannie Flagg or Elizabeth Berg, but I also read Toni Morrison and Anne Lamott, who write with such impact and are able to touch a nerve with their words.

By profession, you are a teacher. What led you there?

I always wanted to be a teacher. I coerced neighborhood kids to play school during summer vacations. When I won a piece of fat, yellow teacher chalk at bingo, I used my dad’s car as my chalk board. Not good!

How did you meet your current husband?

We met in a neighborhood bar. Neither of us drank, but we followed the same well-known band and enjoyed dancing to old time rock-and-roll songs.

I hear you and your husband also share a love of the seashore.

The ocean tugs on my soul the way the moon pulls the tide. I love walking the beach. I am energized and can walk for hours lost in thought, thrilled by a seashell, fascinated with people watching. My husband and I usually go to the Florida Panhandle, but we recently discovered cruising. I have fallen in love with the Bahamas and Caribbean.

As a couple in a blended family, you have four children and nine grandchildren, plus you teach full-time. When do you have time to write and blog?

I am an early riser, wide awake by 5:00 a.m. and write or search markets until about 8:00 a.m. The most time-consuming part of writing is searching for multi-genre submission opportunities. I also blog in the morning, mostly for creative and personal satisfaction. It is a fifteen or twenty minute commitment owed to my readers. I write from the heart, which is the name of my blog, Write From the Heart.  Everyone has busy lives and the same twenty-four hours to prioritize. If writing is important to you, invest the time

You are not only a prolific writer, but you are extremely successful at getting published as well. I heard that you send out at least 20 pieces per month for consideration–an exaggeration?

I have submitted as many as 20 pieces or more per month, but I believe in the rule of seven: keep seven things circulating. Lately I have been submitting about 10 things a month, a personal challenge.

What’s your process?

I edit as I write and edit again upon completion. I leave it for a day or an hour, come back and edit it again, and then, submit. When I hit the send button I “write and release.” A writer can go crazy wondering and waiting for a response. A rejection is not necessarily a reflection of one’s writing ability. It is a reflection of editorial needs. Do not sabotage yourself with negative thoughts about your abilities as a writer.

 

Linda, you are an enigma. I think I’m close when I describe you as an idealistic, pragmatic, spiritual, irreverent, sentimental, funny, introspective individual. What other adjectives would you add?

I am helpful. I think it is important for writers who have found success to help other writers.  I do believe that we should aid one another.

What’s your helpful advice for writers?

  • Write fearlessly and don’t give up when you feel discouraged.
  • Learn all you can about the craft of writing. (I am mostly self-taught.)
  • Believe in yourself and know that your work has the ability to impact others.

15 comments for “Chatting with Linda O’Connell

  1. February 13, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Inspiring interview–especially the words, “A rejection is not necessarily a reflection of one’s writing ability. It is a reflection of editorial needs.” I think I need to tape this next to my computer.

    • lisamiller
      February 14, 2012 at 10:43 am

      No kidding! I would also add that it isn’t a reflection of ability as much as editorial taste….

  2. February 11, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Linda is an inspiring lady and I’m glad to be friends with her. Great interview!

  3. February 9, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Thanks to Lisa, Diana and Walrus for the interview, and the community exposure and to all who commented. I am humbled by your comments.

    • lisamiller
      February 10, 2012 at 10:53 am

      Linda – you have quite a following! I’m so glad that you shared your thoughts with us!

  4. February 9, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Hi Diana and Linda,

    Great interview–questions and answers.

    I love Linda’s advice to write fearlessly.

    Donna

    • lisamiller
      February 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm

      That -is- really great advice!

  5. February 9, 2012 at 6:53 am

    I always enjoy reading Linda’s blog. It is refreshing and frequently causes me to laugh out loud – always a good thing, in my view.
    I enjoyed her interview. It reinforced my view of her as a well-rounded and extremely likeable woman.

  6. February 8, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Linda has another talent, which is making educational crafts from everyday items. I am amazed every time she posts pictures of her creations. Her positive energy towards other writers is incredible. Way to go, Linda!

  7. Colleen
    February 8, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Linda is an amazing lady and our family is so blessed that she has taught all three of our boys, written articles for my husband’s hockey newspaper and been apart of our lives for the past six years~ Linda is a true gem! (her honey, Bill, is pretty cool too!) :)” Great read Ms Linda!!

    • lisamiller
      February 9, 2012 at 9:21 am

      Wow, when does —she— find time to write?!

  8. Kim
    February 8, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Linda is always encouraging me to do more…10 a month? Not sure I could do that, but I know I can do better.

    I read her blog regularly, and am impressed by her dedication to her students and to her passion for writing.

    • lisamiller
      February 9, 2012 at 9:20 am

      Finding time to write is so hard, but I think I understand where Linda is going with this. The Daily Word Workout!

  9. February 8, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Lovely interview! I am honored to know Linda and enjoyed reading this interview with her. Thanks, Diana!

    • lisamiller
      February 8, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      Dianna – we are very proud of Diana. She does such wonderful work with these interviews. It’s so obvious that the writers feel comfortable opening up to her – they are so candid! Thank you too for your reply! Please keep coming back!