Patricia “Tricia” Crisafulli is a published author and professional writer in suburban Chicago. She is the author of the bestselling business leadership book, The House of Dimon: How JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon Rose to the Top of the Financial World. She is also the author of Remembering Mother, Finding Myself: A Journey of Love and Self-Acceptance (written under the name, Patricia Commins). At work on a novel, Tricia is the founder and publisher of an e-literary magazine, www.FaithHopeandFiction.com, a free monthly e-publication that features quality original short stories, essays, poetry, and author interviews.
A few years ago I was interviewed by Faith, Hope, and Fiction about my poetry book Father’s Eyes. The owner and creator of Faith, Hope, and Fiction, Patricia “Tricia” Crisafulli, was gracious and friendly and someone that builds writers up. I truly enjoyed meeting her and was happy that she agreed to do an interview with Working Writers. I think you will all benefit from what she has to say.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?
I started writing when I was about seven years old. Growing up in northern New York State, I discovered that having a pencil in my hand was the key to unlocking my imagination and all the stories I told myself. I thought seriously about becoming a writer some day when I was about 12. Of course the journey from dream to reality was a long one—with many twists, turns, and setbacks. The short version of the story is I became a journalist first, specializing in business, and then I went to work for myself 12 years ago as writer-for-hire, working with mostly corporate clients. Becoming a ghostwriter and then a published author followed.
What type of writing do you do?
My writing takes me in many directions. There is my business writing, which includes articles and white papers that I produce for clients, as well as leadership books that I write under my own name. I’m also a ghostwriter working with clients to produce books on business, investment, and leadership. My heart, though, is my creative writing. I started www.faithhopeandfiction.com as a community of people who enjoy stories that inspire and entertain. I write short stores for FH&F, and invite others to contribute fiction and non-fiction, as well. Having so many varied writing interests keeps me disciplined, and quite frankly it is what allows me to work as a full time writer.
What’s the best thing about writing?
Writing takes me into and then out of myself—particularly when I am writing creatively. I have to go deep within myself to tap my emotions, memories and personal reactions. That’s not to say I’m always writing about myself. My first book, Remembering Mother, had a definite autobiographical thread as a non-fiction book for women who had lost their mothers. All writing, however, comes out of the writer’s own experience. I can’t put flesh on the bones of a character or write about a real-life person without something resonating within myself. Then writing takes me out of myself. I can’t obsess over what happened or should have happened yesterday. I have to live and breathe the words on the screen in order for them to come alive. Writing for me is transformative. Writing is how I make sense of myself and the world.
Share some of your writing goals.
There are short term plans and then there are goals. In the short-term, I’ll be writing more business leadership books, which I do enjoy. I have a new one coming out next spring entitled COMEBACKS for which I am the co-author with Andrea Redmond. As I mentioned earlier, I have a novel in progress. It’s been “finished” twice, but I keep going back to it to polish, add, revise, edit. One of my favorite quotes about writing is: “The art is in the rewrite.” Do I subscribe to that! So my writing goal is to have a novel published. A novel would allow me to share more of myself and to explore my favorite subject which is the broken places we all have inside and the healing that is possible when we open the door even a crack to grace.
Is there a specific time of day you like to write?
Mind you, I write all day long. But a lot of that writing is for other people—my business clients (how I pay for my fiction habit!). When it comes to my own writing, I love to write first thing in the morning for about two hours. I try to stay to that discipline as much as possible. However, having a lot of deadlines these days—including for a new book—I have to break my own rule. I’m learning to write whenever I can find the time—whether it’s late in the afternoon or in the evening. Having a half day to do nothing but write creatively is like taking a vacation.
What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?
I loved the novel Peace Like a River. The author, Leif Enger, told a first-person narrative with such beautiful prose and compelling characters, it absolutely transported me. I have read the book twice now, which is the best compliment I can give. Not only did I read it once, but I went back a second time to savor it some more.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
As a child when the stories I had in my head made it down on paper. Now they weren’t much more than “stick figures” in those days, but I got such a thrill out of capturing my thoughts and putting them down so others could read them.
Book you’re currently reading.
I’ve got two going at the moment. One is a novel called Blessings by Anna Quindlen, a Pulitzer prize-winning columnist turned novelist. I love her stories and characters. (This is one that I’m reading for a second time). The other is a spiritual book called Entering the Castle: An Inner Path to God and Your Soul by Caroline Myss, based on the work of St Teresa of Avila. How’s that for variety! But that’s typical for me: two or more books at the same time.
Any type of writing ritual you have?
Just sit down and write! I think working in a newsroom for so many years and writing on daily and then minute-to-minute deadlines (I was a journalist for Reuters, the international news agency) I learned to write “on demand.” This has been a blessing for me since I am able to immerse myself quickly in whatever I’m writing and I can switch gears pretty easily.
Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how did you get past it? If not, why not?
No, I don’t—not that there haven’t been days when I felt I couldn’t write or it was difficult to write. In my experience this has been caused by two things: 1. I’m just tired, worn out, and distracted. A good night’s sleep can usually take care of that. 2. The more interesting cause is that there is that there is something I don’t like (but can’t yet see) about what I’ve written. I can’t go forward because there is something bugging me about what’s on the page already. This is so frustrating because I experience it first as procrastination and then I think, “Oh, no I’m blocked!” So when I force myself to go back for the 88th time to re-read what I’ve written, I can finally start to puzzle it out. Oh, I don’t like this turn in the plot or how this character developed; that’s why I can’t go forward. Then it’s time for rewrite.
What’s the measure of a successful writer?
Writing! That’s it. Being published is a business transaction. While most of us have this as a goal, it’s really not the object of being a writer. Writers write. Period. If you are writing on a regular basis then you are successful—no matter where your writing goes (published, not published, sold, given away, whatever…)
Advice for other writers?
Write, write, write, write, write… then read a ton – and write some more. And for a change, do some rewriting. If writing is your joy then make it your discipline.
Where can we learn more about you?
Come visit me at my web site, www.FaithHopeandFiction.com! It’s free, always will be, and sign up for the newsletter (11 issues a year).