Featured Writer on Wellness: Kay Rae Chomic

Filed in Writers on Wellness by on September 24, 2015 • views: 1135

Kay 2My life has always included physical activity.

Main sports included golfing, swimming, running 10Ks, and playing softball. I learned in my youth the value of stretching to prepare muscles for these activities, and to avoid injury.

Sure writing is sedentary, but it doesn’t cause physical problems for me because of my basic need for movement, short attention span, and a lifelong practice of stretching (now paired with yoga).

At 61, I no longer jog or play softball, but I do play nine holes of golf in a weekly women’s league, and swim. I listen to my body, and it lets me know when I need a stretch break, or a dog walk, or a longer break at the gym.

With Golfers

First day of 2015 golf season, March 9, 2015. From left to right: Karen Snepp, Samantha Gillett, Kay Rae Chomic, and Dee Sweeney.

I also wrestle. I wrestle with the demon, self-doubt. I wrestle with the left-side of my brain to not inhibit my right-side’s creativity. I wrestle with my mind for permission to get out of the house, and eliminate distractions to writing: pets, laundry, loading/unloading the dishwasher, phone calls, life’s paperwork pile.

You’d think it’d be an easy thing to open my front door and get in my car with my satchel packed with computer and notebooks and pens. Maybe I need a stretch routine for that?

The Value of a “Kvetching” Journal

I like variety in my writing, but with so many choices, I feel overwhelmed. Should I start a new essay, fine tune a WIP, write a flash fiction piece, work on my second novel, practice the craft with a fun writing exercise…or focus on one of the zillion book-promotion tips that flood my email, blast through social media, and turn up in writers’ newsletters and writer magazines?

Inertia, often the unfortunate result, leads to frustration and confusion.

A “kvetching” journal helps me focus, and gain insight to my resistance. I bought several tablets when I decided to write a novel. This journal was the first tablet I named. Freewriting in it for 10-15 minutes when I felt rattled and blocked, paid dividends by leading me back to the story.

Dog 2

Lulu Lamb, Kay’s rescue dog she’s had for two years (she’s 7 now), one of her favorite distractions from writing and her walking buddy.

Choices by the Billions—Which One?

Since self-doubt means lack of confidence, sometimes I enrolled in a writing class to strengthen my skills in writing beginnings, or scene writing, or pitching the story. Huge help! And I met wonderful teachers and fellow students along the way.

For choices by the billions, I continue to struggle. I’m retired now, so have plenty of time to figure it out. Also, writing is one delicious part of my life, and living well is not related to writing income. My spouse, cats, dog, best friends, and travel are other delectables.

Other coping strategies: a phone call to a friend, five-o’clock cocktails (preference for a Manhattan), and playing Candy Crush (please don’t judge me—it’s a weird-fun escape).

The Darkest Moment: Years Without Success

When I began writing and taking classes, I focused on flash fiction. I loved the challenge of creating an impactful story in a thousand words or less.

After publishing two short-shorts, years passed without more success. Then I noticed an international flash fiction contest, and I sent in a story called Red Ring that I had rewritten so many times I felt like Hemingway when he said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

I felt heavy discouragement in my soul linked with a whisper of hopefulness.

Months later, an email came from the sponsor of the contest. The subject line: Winners Announced! I froze, and asked myself, “Do I want to feel bad now or later?” I chose now and opened the email. I had won!

There it was on my screen: First Place: Red Ring by Kay Rae Chomic, Seattle Washington. The second and third place winners were from Istanbul, and Copenhagen. My whole body shook. I called my partner, and could barely speak; and when I did speak, she didn’t recognize my voice at first. “I won! Red Ring won!!”

This success was the green light—external recognition—I needed to continue writing.

Cupcakes 2

Book Tour 2014: Books Inc. in Palo Alto, CA (June 23); cupcakes in Michigan—a best friend’s gift. Even the book was edible! (August 14).

The One Thing That Has Kept You On Your Path

Once on Twitter, I responded to a question requesting a six-word answer.

Q: Why do you write?

A: To unleash imagination, to contemplate personalities.

To add a few more words to that tweeted answer, I love the challenge of writing.

I love to learn about people—their quirks, passions, family conflicts, relationships, jobs, joys and miseries. I enjoy reflecting on stories from my own life and fictionalizing them. It’s a great way to change an unhappy ending, or write juicy details of an escapade (changing a few characteristics to protect the innocent or guilty participants).

When I write an essay, the freedom of self expression cheers me, and I agree with this quote from Margaret Atwood: A word after a word after a word is power.

Advice for a Young Writer

There are no guarantees in writing. It’s competitive and the competition is usually invisible. Writing contest judges, editors, agents, and publishers view stories through their individualized subjective lens.

Your writing may be great, but not matching the taste of the evaluator.

Only a few athletes make it into the pro leagues. Same for writers—only a few make a robust living from their craft.

The difference though is writing can continue as long as you have a pulse.

Even with a bad back or if you are 75 years old. That said, go to college or learn a trade so you can earn a paycheck from work you enjoy.

If you’re attracted to writing, you must fit it in. Fall in love with editing, and be patient. Read heartily, take classes, and involve yourself with the writing community. A good resource for the last idea is, The Write Crowd: Literary Citizenship and the Writing Life, by Lori A. May.

Whether you publish big, small, or not at all, you will make friends, and it’s these friends who may be your first readers, offer kind comments when you’re down, help you celebrate your successes, and/or simply be BFFs.

Now for the best news: Writing is an adventure. Buckle in, put on your helmet, and open your heart and brain to everything inside you; develop a curiosity for how others live, feel, think; and listen well to learn about the experiences that shaped them.

Have fun—story material is everywhere!

* * *

As a late-blooming reader, and an even later-blooming writer, Kay Rae Chomic experienced the thrills of publishing her first novel, A Tight Grip, the year she turned 60. Retiring from a career in business, she’s now focused on her passions of writing, volunteering for youth literacy programs, reading, golfing, and traveling. She makes an effort to age with sparkle and humor.

For more information about Kay, please see her website and Amazon author page, or connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

ATightGripA Tight Grip: Jane “Par” Parker has a tight grip on her obsessions—winning golf tournaments, grieving the murder of her father, and stalking a red vintage Corvette.

She’s prideful, privileged, and Pringles are her favorite snack food because they are neatly ordered like her life; until she gets arrested, spends a night in jail for a crime she blames on her husband, and her life quickly becomes disordered.

This event kicks off the worst week of her life. Ultimately, Par discovers the transformative power of adversity, and seizes opportunities to evolve as a person, an athlete, and a best friend.

Available on Amazon.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Chere Hagopian says:

    Thanks, Kay! Enjoyed your post! Your advice for new writers was excellent. And I write for some of the same reasons- I find people fascinating and love to figure them out.

    Lulu Lamb is adorable!