There is nothing like a good book to bring to the beach with you! This week Jersey Shore Scene is re-introducing our readers to our first 12 featured local writers. Please consider purchasing their books to support our local talent.
Please meet: Gail Siggelakis
When and how did you start writing?
Writing has always been for me a place where I can get my feelings and thoughts on the page to make sense of my life. I’ve been a journal writer since I was in fifth grade, and I still have that diary! I also am a passionate reader. Books, particularly self-help books, have helped me make sense of the struggles and yearnings I’ve expressed on the page, so it seems natural I would want to write a self-help book to help others with the insights I’ve gleaned. I never had formal training in writing, (my career was as an elementary school teacher), so when the topic of my book, The Affirming Way of Life: See the Good, Speak the Good, Spread the Good, came to me, I found a writing coach to help me structure my ideas. I also eventually joined a writing group. The coaching and feedback from other writers over time enabled me to call myself a writer.
What do you like to write about most?
I write in the self-help, personal-growth genre. I am fascinated with how our perceptions of others and the words we speak to them shape our relationships. As a teacher and mother, I knew that the words I used to describe a child would be how they saw themselves. I also observed that sharing with loved ones, friends and even strangers, the good I admired or appreciated in them infused my relationships with warmth and closeness that kindles deep bonds. I wrote about this in my book and continue to write about this in my blog at theaffirmingway.com. It’s my mission to open others hearts and minds to see the best and speak the best to spread the good.
What do you find to be the easiest and hardest thing about writing?
Getting started is by far the hardest part of writing. I usually brainstorm my ideas first, which is fairly easy, but getting that opening sentence and first paragraph can feel like torture. Once I have it though, the rest begins to flow. The easiest part of writing for me is revising. I have all the ideas for the piece or chapter on paper at that point. Revising is working with my material to make it flow in words, in ideas, in the structure. I actually love the revising. Crafting my writing makes me feel like an artist. The truth though is there is no end to revising to make my writing better. I have to be able to say—good enough!
What writers do you most admire and why?
When I was writing my book, I made a study of what drew me in to author’s writings. Though I have never attempted fiction writing, I love reading it. I have read nearly every novel by Alice Hoffman. Her use of language and magical realism makes me swoon with pleasure. As I said, I’m also an avid self-help book reader. Brene Brown has been a model to me in that genre. She is so open in the way she talks about herself and her relationships to exemplify her message. I feel her presence as I read her work. I try to do the same thing in my writing.
How do you get your ideas for stories and what’s in the future for you in writing?
I get ideas reflecting on my life and listening closely to the stories others tell me about their feelings, struggles and relationship issues. I am inspired by life in general—books, news, movies, podcasts, dreams. I look and listen through the lens of connections and relationships and the impact of the words with speak. Because of my mission to help others create more loving fulfilling relationships through the affirming approach to life, I write my biweekly blog with tips on living from the heart, especially with the challenges we all face now.
Can you share a memorable experience you’ve had purely because you are a writer?
Hearing how my book has touched other’s lives means the world to me. I received a letter from a former colleague that I hadn’t seen in over twenty years. I was so surprised and delighted he’d read my book. He said he’d had a very difficult year and that, “I’ve renewed my dedication to being a rainbow in both my own and other’s clouds. Your words encouraged me to forgive and push myself towards recovery as well as improve my relationship with my wife.” To open other’s hearts to the gift their words can be to themselves and others is my joy.
Gail’s book is available at Amazon in paperback for $14.99 and ebook for $7.99. Click on this link (The Affirming Way of Life: See the Good, Speak the Good, Spread the Good) to purchase her book. Gail is also available for talks on myriad topics related to relationships with ourselves and all the people in our life. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.