One of the best parts of my job is meeting other writers or fascinating people who work in the writing industry. Those of you who know me well know that I don't really like being in the spotlight but I LOVE being a person to bring folks to the information or resources they need. So when I picked up my issue of Chatelaine magazine last month and read the fresh and fun contribution of author, journalist and freelance writer, Rebecca Eckler, I just KNEW I had to talk to her.
Rebecca is a Canadian-based writer but has also worked in New York and has done some pretty amazing work. I LOVED our chat and thought I'd share it with our WOW readers. Enjoy! (And THANKS SO MUCH Rebecca!)
CHYNNA: I’m so glad you had some time to chat! Okay, for those readers who may not know about all the amazing stuff you’ve done, can you give us a bit about your background?
Well, my background is quite simple. I’ve always loved to write, wasn’t sure if “writer” was a viable career. I never knew any writers growing up. But, in my family, not going to university was NOT an option. So I chose journalism school, where I actually studied television, because most of my friends chose to study that. In the summers I would intern at newspapers, like the Calgary Herald, and I just loved it. I started by working in the entertainment section and I was hooked. I got to interview celebrities and write about them! It was a dream job! I worked for Pamela Wallin (now a senator) when she had her own nightly talk show, as a producer, for three years and then the National Post came onto the scene and I took a job there. I was writing numerous columns a week and it was so much fun. I even got to move to New York for a while to write from there! I got engaged, and became pregnant on the night of my engagement party – for that part of my life, people can read my first mommy memoir Knocked Up
. Then I wrote Wiped
! (About the ups and downs of raising a boddler – half baby/half toddler) And then I wrote Toddlers Gone Wild
. I also wrote a teen book called Rotten Apple
and I have a children’s book coming out in March, called the Mischievous Mom At The Art Gallery
. I just love writing. Because I’m a single mother, it’s a good career to have. Not only do I love it, but also it’s definitely a job with more flexible hours! (I’m writing this now, and then I’m going to see my daughter skate, then I’ll come home and write a bit more, before she comes home!)
CHYNNA: Wow! What a great background (and pretty inspirational for those fellow Canadians wondering how they can ‘break in’ to the Canadian market!) And I also enjoy the flexible hours with writing at home. =) With your fiction and nonfiction books, as well as working as a columnist both in Canada and the US, you’ve pretty much covered all the bases in the writing industry. What sparked your interest in writing? How easy/difficult has it been “making it” in both countries? (Rebecca, you won’t believe this but I’ve done waaay better in the US than here in Canada! I think it’s inspiring that you’ve done so well in both countries!)
REBECCA: That’s so funny you say that! But I’m super proud for you! What sparked my interest is basically that I loved to read. I’m very blessed that I managed to make a living writing. It is almost impossible to do so. I always tell people, “Make sure you LOVE it. Because if there’s something else you’d like to do, you probably should do that!” My books have sold in many countries. I’m not sure how to measure success in America. I know, for example, that Knocked Up did very well there. Meaning, it sold more copies there than it did in Canada. However, America is ten times bigger, so more readers! I think I’m quite big in Germany and Spain, which I find funny. Honestly, the bottom line is that it’s hard to be a success outside Canada, if you’re Canadian. There are a ton of writers in America – or in every other country - doing the exact same thing us writers here in Canada are doing.
CHYNNA: ABSOLUTELY! Thanks for that insight. Have you reached all your writing goals yet? If not, what would you still like to tuck under your writing belt?
REBECCA: I have so many ideas for books. My brain just works that way. Actually, it’s pretty annoying. Late at night I’ll wake up and think, ‘That’s such a good title for a book!’
Obviously, I’d love the success of Stephanie Meyers, for example. What writer wouldn’t? I think I have a great work of fiction in me somewhere (fingers crossed.) But, again, writing is sometimes a crapshoot. You could write five books that do all right, or not, and then maybe the sixth book you write will really take off! Who knows? Here’s hoping! One needs faith to be a writer!
CHYNNA: I totally agree with you. (And I hear ya with book titles keeping you awake at night. I can’t keep up with all the ideas! LOL!) I think your blogs are amazing. You post about things that women want to know, need to know or maybe even forgot about since they became Mamas. In fact, I just loved the article you did in ParentsCanada about how Moms can keep their cool. Can you talk a bit about how you came up with each of them, what their purposes are and how you come up with such great stuff for each one! (I have trouble doing my one main blog! Ha!)
REBECCA: I love blogging because it’s like talking to a friend. And that’s what I do, when I write. In my head, while my fingers type, I am talking to a friend. Whenever I end up in a conversation with a friend about something that lasts more than twenty minutes, I know it’s a good idea for a blog! And I will blog about it. Sometimes what I write is controversial. I love that too, because it shows that everyone has his or her own opinions. Also, I love hearing other mother’s stories. Something happens when you become a mother. Your priorities change. And you actually are VERY interested in how other mothers’ parent, or what they go through. Simply being a mother bonds you to women in a different and good way. Raising a child is like being in a relationship: same universal highs and lows. So all mothers love talking about mothering and their children. I also do like to tell the truth about things. For example, I was in a conversation last night with a mother who’s a friend of mine. Our children go to the same school and we were moaning about this one kid who is making our children’s lives miserable. She’s sort of a sneaky bully, this kid. What mother can’t relate to their child being upset because something another child did to them? I will definitely have to blog about that one!
CHYNNA: I think that’s why I love your blogs so much. You aren’t just giving information or writing ‘advice’ pieces; you’re chatting with people. That’s refreshing! You know, you are someone I’d call the ultimate “writer Mama” because you are hard at work but still so devoted to your child. Do you work at home or do you have an outside office to escape to? Is it hard having the two jobs? How do you divide up your time between them?
REBECCA: I work at home. I have not, and don’t think I ever will, find that balance, where it’s calm and I feel that I’m a great mother and a great writer. When I have a book due, and my child is sick, or it’s March Break, it’s very hard. But sometimes, I’ll put a movie on for her, and I’ll be writing right beside her. But, actually, now that she’s in school full days, she’s out the door at 8:20 a.m. and I can start working at 9 a.m. Before Rowan, I used to love working late at night. Now, I stop work at 4 p.m. Haven’t worked at night forever. I also used to work on weekends. Don’t do that anymore either. I constantly feel guilty about everything! I feel guilty that I’m not working hard enough. I feel guilty that I don’t spend enough time with her. Face it, most mothers have to work, or want to work, and, most of us are torn. We feel guilt about everything!
CHYNNA: AHHHHHH ‘Mommy Guilt.’ Yes. LOL! I do most of my writing right beside my kids too---until a WWF Smackdown starts and I either have to referee or I get tired of being jumped on. I mentioned earlier that you’ve written both fiction and nonfiction books—a YA novel and three books about parenting. Did you want to talk more about those works?
REBECCA: See above! I like to write all sorts of books, obviously. I’m very excited about my children’s book, because that’s something Erica and I did for our children to be proud of us! Other mothers, of course, will love it and so will their children. Most of all, I just love readers! I love people who love to read! I’m so sad when I hear people say their teenagers don’t like to read. I’m like, “How can someone NOT like to read?”
CHYNNA: I know! I’m constantly reading something. I think it makes us better writers when we’re busy readers. Now, do you have a preference writing in either fiction or nonfiction? Was it difficult going from one to the other, if so, in what way(s)?
REBECCA: I loved writing the mommy memoirs. I didn’t find it easy at the time, until I started writing fiction. Then I was like, “Oh my God. It’s so much easier to write non-fiction because it’s about your life. You don’t have to make things up out of nowhere and create situations and characters!” It was more difficult than I thought to write fiction (I have an adult fiction book coming out in the Fall.) In theory, I would love to be a great fiction writer, because I love to read fiction. But I do love to write non-fiction because I think other’s can relate to them and they know it’s real life. I think my next book will be a non-fiction, to shake it up.
CHYNNA: You know, I totally understand wanting to go back and forth. It gives us fresh energy for the new project. How important is it, do you think, that women, especially mothers, have some sort of creative talent or hobby to focus their energies on once in awhile?
REBECCA: Well, personally, I think it’s important. I think the world needs writers and painters and dancers and art. But mothers are busy! If they really want to do it, then, hopefully, they’ll find the time. I actually love mothers who have started their own businesses after becoming mothers, like the ones who make jewelry or blankets.
CHYNNA: Absolutely. I’ve always said that having a positive, creative distraction once in awhile is essential to our overall functioning. You and your daughter seem very close. You must miss her like crazy if/when you have to be away from her. How do you maintain that closeness, even when you’re hard at work? Does she go on tour or travel with you?
REBECCA: I hate not being with her. I HATE it. I miss her like crazy even when she goes off to school for the day! If I have to leave her for work-related events, than I don’t stay away for more than two days. I refuse to. But, when I travel for fun, she definitely comes along with me. I think she may have more air points than me!
CHYNNA: HA! That’s hilarious about the air points! And you aren’t the only Writer Mama who doesn’t like working too far from home. ;) Do you have any final pearls of wisdom for our writers, authors and Mamas out there?
REBECCA: For writers, I’m not going to lie. It’s hard work and you don’t make a ton of money (Except if you’re Stephanie Meyers. Ha ha!) But the hardest thing I find is that writers don’t realize how HARD it is. The number one thing in writing a book is to actually FINISH the book. If you are a writer who has finished a book, you’re half way there. This is hard because most writers do need day jobs to support themselves, so you have to be so dedicated. For mamas, make sure your child is safe and happy, and grow up being good people.
CHYNNA: That’s fantastic advice, thank you. I hope it inspires our readers to keep plowing forward. Last question: Do you have any projects, appearances or other works we should watch out for?
REBECCA: The children’s book with Erica Ehm, called the Mischievous Mom At the Art Gallery comes out in March. And in the Fall, my adult Fiction, Clover, comes out. People can keep up with my life on my blog at Sweetmama.ca on Thursdays, and on twitter @rebeccaeckler.
Thank you so much to Rebecca for chatting with me and for letting me share her wise words with all of you. I hope everyone has a chance to check out Rebecca’s Website, her blogs and on Twitter. She has some wonderful advice and tips for both Mamas and writers (or both!)