Monday, June 27, 2011

Partner on the Path--Beth Hautala

Beth is the sort of partner everyone dreams of. She's sweet, generous, and kind. She is the partner who will have a backpack full of snacks, an extra bottle of water, and just the right words to keep you moving forward when the trail gets rough. She recently started a supportive online writer's group, Writer's Guild. You'll find the link at the end of this interview. If you're looking for some companionship on your writing journey, I encourage you to go check it out.

Now, let's hear from Beth: 

What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path?
Critique partners; friends who have been through the publishing process already; craft books (about writing and the writing life); Twitter and the amazing group of writing friends I have there; the blog world, (there is nothing like reading about writing and publishing from the industry professionals themselves); and my agent. —Her notes and editorial suggestions have taught me so much about the process of writing a book!

What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way?
An author friend of mine, who I respect a great deal, read my manuscript shortly after I received a very harsh and critical rejection. He suggested a few changes and willingly shared his time, despite being quite busy with writing his third novel. I will never forget his kindness and the kindnesses of others like him, who have shared their time and wisdom with me. The process of moving toward publication can be a very joyous and also a very dark journey. Having friends who’ve traveled the road ahead of me has meant the difference between a staggering, stumbling trek, and a kind shoulder to lean on as I travel.

Favorite children’s books? Authors?
Oh man. This is a hard one. I love anything that tells a story truthfully and with a strong voice, from classics like LITTLE WOMEN and THE SECRET GARDEN to new stuff like Erin Bow’s PLAIN KATE, and anything by Sharon Creech or Kate DiCamillo, (just to name a few).

What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
The knowledge that I love to write. —Before hope of publication, before an agent, before Twitter followers or Facebook friends, I simply loved the writing life and working at my craft. And I still do.

If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be?
Wherever my husband and children are—even if that happens to be the moon. Home is where the heart is, as they say, and my heart is most at home among the people I love.

Describe your fantasy writing space?
Appearance isn’t terribly important, but absence of distraction would be quite nice. Wide open windows. Clean and free of clutter. Also, there must be quick and easy access to good coffee.

What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing?
Parenting to two small children, moving house, full-time business ownership, and chronic depression.

What one word describes your writing process? Joyful. (This is different than happy—happy is a fleeting emotion. Joy stays regardless of circumstances).

What do you appreciate the most about being part of the children’s writers community? Knowing that I am working among people who care as deeply about telling children good stories, as I do.

Best writing advice you’ve been given?
“Keep writing. You’re closer than you think.”

What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story?
Character motivation. I do my best to stay inside my characters’ heads, and as long as I can do that, they will often drive the story forward more effectively than I could by trying to push through the plot.

How will you celebrate the publication of your first book?
With many heartfelt thanks to those who have held me up along the way, and champagne. Lots of champagne.

Twitter: @bethhautala


  1. I love that piece of writing advice, too. Great interview--I wish you nothing but success, Beth!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  2. Beth gave a great interview. Joyful--I love that word! What a great way to describe the writing process. :)

  3. Each question and each response uplifted my day. Special thanks to both of you.

  4. Love the idea of writing being joyful too. Nice to meet you, Beth!


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