It’s Meet the Author Monday! Each week we meet a new author and get to know a little about them, their writing process, publishing experience, and tips for other writers. Today we’re talking to Deborah Hawkins, author of The Best of No Small Thing – Mindful Meditations and Practice Gratitude.
About Deborah Hawkins:
Deborah Hawkins has been blogging on gratitude and mindfulness since 2010, posting over 500 reflections on everyday experiences that have elevated her mood along with tips on how to keep gratitude “top of mind.”
Initially, as begun in her early fifties, the purpose of this practice was to work her way out of depression. Now, through her books, “The Best of No Small Thing – Mindful Meditations” and “Practice Gratitude: Transform Your Life — Making the Uplifting Experience of Gratitude Intentional,” along with her zoom-enabled class, “Helium for Your Heart: Elevate Your Outlook With Intentional Gratitude,” she demonstrate a fresh approach to a gratitude practice that is fun, authentic, and confidence-boosting.
She loves telling and listening to personal stories, believing that all stories are about transformation and sharing our humanity. She lives in Chicago with her dog, India.
No Small Thing – Mindful Meditations (NoSmallThing.net) was launched in 2010 with the intention of reflecting on experiences that generated feelings of gratitude in order to create a positive mood and orientation to life. As of fall of 2019, over 500 reflections (mindful meditations) have been published along with over 100 tips that can be employed in a gratitude practice.
This mindfulness process is detailed in a companion book, Practice Gratitude: Transform Your Life. It emphasizes the creation of personal gratitude themes, one’s Grateful Dozen, which can help a person see things that spark grateful feelings in new situations. This is a collection of favorite blog posts that came out of this process.
Author Interview with Deborah Hawkins:
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- Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
A big ego doesn’t help writers, or anybody else, for that matter. It’s important to have a vision but also to have humility, to have confidence but an orientation to service. A writer’s vision of what needs to be said and how he or she would want to say things may change. A writer needs to be adaptable and flexible. Not just replacing words, or fixing grammar, a writer often needs to re-write sections. It’s important for a writer to keep the big picture in mind. It’s important to have confidence that he or she has something to say or a story that needs to be told, but recognize that he or she is operating in service to the themes, or characters, or message of the book.
- Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Being a relatively new author, I don’t feel any pressure to satisfy an established audience’s expectations. I’m not trying to be original. I’m just hoping to bring out something that feels important for me to say, something I think I can bring out in the way I write. I guess that makes originality important, but I’m not trying. I’m just hoping to be true to myself. I write from my own experience and observations, what I choose to reflect what is important to me. In that way, I hope to be original, but still relatable and approachable. I’m not crazy about originality as gimmicks, like writing backwards or in a made-up language. I think you can be original by putting things together in a fresh way that feesl truthful. Yes, I’d like to sell more books but I believe that’s a challenge of getting in front of people that would value my perspective, not to try to be something I’m not.
- Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
I think there is room for all types of writing. There are so many interests people seem to want addressed in their choice of reading. There are books about gardening and birding and fitness and many hobbies that don’t held a special interest for me. But I’m sure other people look for these things. I don’t especially care for YA fiction although many adults love the genre, regardless of whether they are parents. I can’t say that a writer with strong emotions writes better. To me, what’s more important than the nature and intensity of an author’s emotional makeup is their level of self-awareness and ability to assess a situation. An author needs to be able to convey what a character feels or what is at the core of an issue (like global warming) This self-awareness and ability to boil down something to essential points is more important than feeling for the subject alone.
- If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I think I’d tell my younger writing self a few things. Don’t ever stop! Don’t let the opinions of others stop you. Sometimes, a writer might benefit from a critical eye to help determine how to be more successful at something, but often a negative opinion is more about the preference or orientation of your reader. Sometimes, finding success is less about the quality of your output or whether you have something of value to forward as it is about finding the right audience. I’d also recommend to find trusted readers. Before an editor looks at a draft, it’s good to have someone to read what you’ve written, someone who know what you’re trying to accomplish, someone who can be critical and constructive.
- What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I always understood words had tremendous power. When I was 10, I memorized a poem by John Milton. My older sister had to read it as part of a high school assignment. To this day, I still remember the words to the poem. Why? Words, like pictures, get imprinted in a person’s memory. I also know words form beliefs and that can have a tremendously boosting or deflating effect on someone.. When a parent praises or encourages a child, confidence is supported, When a child is questioned or compared to another child self-esteem can be harder to develop. Once you hear an opinion, every though it may come from a source with a limited perspective, it’s hard to dismiss.
- What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I love Junot Diaz’s books, The Incredible Life of Oscar Wao and This is How You Lose Her and Anthony Marra’s, The Tsar of Love and Techno. They were recognized in lit circles but not so much by a wide audience. I found the way the author let me into a world I would not normally get to see was wonderful. Both and had a flare for language. I loved Miriam Toew’s “All My Puny Sorrows.” This book demonstrates the life-affirming nature of writing. Even though this novel deals with suicide, the story itself was full of life and love. Even when a difficult subject is covered, writing or any creative expression makes me feel very fortunate.
- Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
I definitely feel writing is a spiritual practice. Recently I took up a journaling practice I haven’t done in a long time. Rather than burning me out for writing, I actually feel more ready than ever to put in time writing. Journaling clears my head. Whether journaling or writing for a specific purpose, writing most every day feels like a commitment I make to myself to show up in life fully. I’m not sure what can be more spiritual than that.
To learn more about Deborah Hawkins, here’s where you can find her:
- Website: nosmallthing.net
- Facebook: facebook.com/NoSmallThingMindfulMeditations
- Instagram: @nosmallthingdeborahh
- LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/deborah-hawkins-08958012
- Linktr.ee: linktr.ee/gratefuldeb