The Writing Porch's J. Louise Larson interviews authors for other writers to watch, listen and learn from. To be considered for a Writing Porch Q&A, contact J. Louise Larson at jackielarsonwrites (at) gmail.com
Author: Brie Hart is a nontraditional student studying communications in New York City. She’s also the founder and editor-in-chief of the Web magazine, http://www.StudentsOver30.com – The Ultimate Resource Guide for Nontraditional Students.
Book in progress: An untitled memoir about her experience of going back to college over 30 years old. "The memoir is about the challenges I faced when I decided to go back to college three years ago at 32 years old, both in my home life and school life," she said.
"This book started out as a journal to 'tell' someone what I was going through; it was like therapy. My husband didn’t understand my challenges and I didn’t know anyone who was in the same situation as me."
Even though she had read over 50 books to prepare herself for college as a nontraditional student, many of the books were not written for older students because they didn’t address the issues that many nontraditional students face (i.e. socialization, juggling family life and the effects of an academically dormant brain). "I want to show not only the brightside of college, but also the downside, to eliminate the element of surprise," Hart said.
"The most challenging thing about this book was when I realized that the world would know the inner workings of my mind. My actions don’t always represent the internal struggle that I may have before coming to a decision or making a choice. Since I’ve put my thoughts and actions on paper, my friends may finally get to know the true me," she said.
"I’ve always loved to provide people with information, and what better way to provide information if someone can live the past few years of my life while I’m in a classroom? A reader can take what they need from it," she said.
An outgoing person who loves to meet new people, she said she's looking forward to meeting potential readers via book signings and speaking engagements and the Web magazine she started, http://www.StudentsOver30.com.
She kept a journal with her on the way to class, so she could write things down as they happened. In between semesters, she’d incorporate the entries into a manuscript.
"I’m glad I did this because, oftentimes, my emotions were raw as I wrote them down," she said. "By the time the entries made it to my manuscript, I had made peace with the moment, so the journal entries kept me on the right track."
The best writing advice she's been given? "To embrace my voice and writing style. At first, I wasn’t confidant that people would 'hear' my voice and style because it wasn’t Joan Didion’s, although I admire her style. My writing style and voice were me, however eclectic that may be," Hart said.
Advice to other writers: "I always tell people I did my best writing when I didn’t know how to write because I shot from the hip. I’ve had to unlearn some of the techniques that creative writing and journalism writing classes taught me because I felt my writing became too stilted and lacked personality, as it once had," she said. "My advice? Learn the basic rules of writing, character development, pacing a novel and descriptive phrases, showing not telling—although sometimes telling works."
The Writing Porch's J. Louise Larson is a Texas-based writer whose work has appeared in major magazines and newspapers. She is the author of The FabJob Guide to Party Planning. She is the editor of The Ennis Journal and a contributor to The Waxahachie Daily Light.