“Usually, any problems I may be having creatively or with the business side of writing are the result of me straying too far from my personal values as an artist and person. In those moments, I refer to a mantra from clinical psychologist Dr. Sandra Lewis and ask myself, “What does this have to do with what I came to the world to be?” Refocusing on what matters to me, on my purpose, usually grants me clarity in those areas where I’m struggling to make progress.” -Laekan Zea Kemp
On Saturday, June 4th, Laekan Zea Kemp is teaching a class for the WLT called “The Author’s Escape Plan: The Personal, Emotional, and Financial Logistics of Becoming a Full-time Author.“ In this class you’ll learn about essential elements to consider when transitioning to a full-time author, and receive invaluable resources for full-time authors.
Here’s what Laekan had to share with us:
Scribe: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you write? How did you come to writing?
Laekan Zea Kemp: I’m a Chicana Kidlit author living in Austin, Texas and my debut novel, SOMEWHERE BETWEEN BITTER AND SWEET was named a best book of the year by both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. It was also recently named a 2022 Pura Belpre honor book. I also write middle grade Fantasy and picture books about Chicane and Tejane culture.
I wrote my first book when I was a senior in high school before majoring in Creative Writing at Texas Tech University and I have been writing seriously ever since. I don’t know who to attribute this to but it’s been said that when we go through something really difficult or traumatic at a young age, that there’s a part of us that stays that age forever.
I think this is true for me and I think it’s the reason I gravitate so much toward writing for young people. My teen years were really difficult and I feel like I am just forever processing the way those events have shaped me and the way they’ve shaped how I see the world. I’ve still got a lot of emotional unpacking to do and writing is my way of doing that.
Scribe: In your own work, how do you approach overcoming the challenges that come with writing, be it writer’s block or craft or business-related challenges?
LZK: Usually, any problems I may be having creatively or with the business side of writing are the result of me straying too far from my personal values as an artist and person. In those moments, I refer to a mantra from clinical psychologist Dr. Sandra Lewis and ask myself, “What does this have to do with what I came to the world to be?” Refocusing on what matters to me, on my purpose, usually grants me clarity in those areas where I’m struggling to make progress.
Scribe: Has there been a moment of epiphany in terms of your work, when you thought, “This is it! Now I know what I’m doing?” How long did that feeling last?
LZK: No. Every creative project is meant to serve a different purpose and therefore demands different things from me as the creator. I’ve gotten better at moving with the current rather than against it but writing is still challenging and still pushing me to grow in new and often uncomfortable ways.
Scribe: What piece of advice do you find yourself giving to writers again and again?
LZK: To trust your own creative process. Especially, once you enter the traditional publishing industry, it’s easy to feel this sense of urgency to write as much as you can and take advantage of every opportunity and say yes to things when you should be saying no. But that’s the pace of capitalism, not nature. So slow down. Listen to your intuition. And be cautious of pouring out more than you’re taking in.
Scribe: What is one thing that people will take away from this class?
LZK: One thing I hope people take away from this class is that authors have to be just as savvy and strategic as the traditional publishing companies themselves in order to make this career financially, emotionally, and logistically feasible. But the only way to be able to properly strategize is to have that insider information about all of the insidious ways publishers make it harder for authors to pursue writing as a full-time career. It’s possible but it’s extremely difficult and I hope that by the end of this workshop participants will have a better understanding of the challenges so they can go forth in their careers prepared to make the best decisions for themselves and their circumstances.
Click here to learn more about Laekan Zea Kemp’s upcoming class.