Meet the Author Series: Introducing Allison Whitaker
Some time ago we started to interview writers about their writing journey, the writing successes they have faced and the losses. We started this blog series because we believe in the community of writers helping writers, and what better way for writers to learn than from authors?
For our next installment of The Meet The Author Series we have interviewed Allison Whitaker, author of Sometimes It Hurts. We are thrilled to have Allison participate in Meet The Author and we thank her for sharing her journey!
Q: When did your writing journey start for you?
A: Apart from writing term papers in high school and college, I never really wrote much. I always had it in the back of my mind though that one day I would like to write a book. The funny thing is though, when I started writing my book, I actually didn’t even start writing with the goal to write a book, but rather I just wanted to get my emotions out when I had no one else to talk to – this all started in 2016 when I came out of the closet.
Q: Tell us about Sometimes It Hurts, and what it was like to share your story?
A: “Sometimes it Hurts” is an intimate look into my life. As I mentioned above, I wrote because I had no one to talk to as I came out of the closet as transgender. Every new experience, every emotion, every bit of pain and anguish, and even every smile found its way through my fingers and into my writing. I would write for hours about something that happened to me and how it affected me, how something would trigger an emotion; anything about what I was going through and dealing with.
It was almost a year after I started writing that I knew I could in fact publish my story to the world and thus set out to write a memoir of the first 34 years of my life. Sharing my personal story was incredibly nerve-wracking – I held nothing back and talked about growing up feeling different, all the surgeries, dating and rejection, sexual harassment and sexual assault, workplace discrimination and harassment – it’s a lot to put it all out on the table. When I finally published my book, I anxiously awaited reviews and feedback - I was thrilled at the overwhelmingly positive response. I’ve heard from people around the globe that I don’t even know and have heard from them how my story helped them and affected them in way I could have never imagined. It’s been a powerful experience.
Q: What does writing mean to you?
A: Writing to me is everything – its how I can communicate with others long after im gone, it’s a way to record my feelings in a safe way and possibly reflect on them later; it’s a way for me to capture my thoughts and emotions and a way for me to create something amazing. Now that ive started writing, ill never stop, and am actually working on a second book that will be all about discovering myself and finding happiness after struggling for so long to understand what truly makes me happy. Writing when I feel the need to is one of the greatest feelings for me – it’s the coffee on a Sunday morning with the sunrise over the mountains, its feeling the sand between your toes on a new beach for the first time, its hugging someone you haven’t seen in forever and telling them you love them – to me it’s happiness and peace.
Q: Tell us about your writing routine and what inspires you to 'put the pen to paper'?
A: My only routine for writing has been to write when I am in the mood. I don’t like feeling forced to or to schedule time to write – that’s unnatural. I write when I need to, when my mind tells me that it needs to get something out. Conversely, I do take short notes throughout the day of things I may want to talk more about at a later time or to include in some of my work, those things just occur naturally, but are something to take advantage of.
Q: What authors have you found yourself admiring as a writer?
A: I wouldn’t say I have a stack of writers I am particularly drawn to but would say that I am more so drawn to the type of writing someone does. I like raw accounts of people’s stories – whether it be biographies or memoirs, etc, I love anything related to history and politics as well, anything where I can learn more about someone or challenge me to think. Books like “Firehouse”, which is about a fire department on 9/11 in NYC, or “The Dirt”, a book about Motley Crue, or something like “The Danish Girl”, which I can relate to in being transgender. I’m definitely drawn to particular types of stories.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a new writer what would it be?
A: My one piece of advice would be to just start writing – don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or punctuation – figure that stuff out later. When you’ve got a good thought in your head don’t lose it, just write and keep writing. Take notes throughout the day, write about anything and everything, be raw – what are you passionate about, what has challenged you or affected you, what moves you? Just write.