|Gigi, JaeLynn and Tanya Yvonne|
I started off with a basic question about how she made the transition from non-profit work to writing. It was with this inquiry that I first got the sense of how much her relationship with her now 17-year-old daughter had influenced her decision to get serious about her writing aspirations. I saw myself in Gigi as she spoke of how she wanted to be an example for her only child as to why when there is something you want to obtain you should actively go for it. And that is exactly what she did. Unlike myself and most writers I know Gigi sat down and charted out a path to publication. At her day job as a grant writer she approached each proposal as if it were a short story. With great enthusiasm she briefly explained to me how what she was doing at the time, drafting grant proposals for non-profit organizations, was indeed akin to story writing because she was telling someone’s tale. She also did something you all may already have done and I have thought about doing, freelance work. Even after all this time her eyes danced as she recalled the feelings upon learning that an article penned by her would be published in a local magazine.
Prior to all that luckiness Gigi received a type of rejection I would not wish on my biggest rival. She applied to a Master of Fine Art (MFA) program and was turned down. Recently I have been pondering making such a move towards an even higher education so this bitter morsel of information drained all green eyed emotions from me. As she spoke of how the rejection made her feel the pleasant smile faded, replaced by a brief look of sadness then an expression of determination. “I cried over it. Stopped writing for years.” Eventually of course (and luckily for us) the lure of the written word pulled her back. Still in the pre-published stage myself I wanted to know what advice Gigi would give her pre-published self. The kind smile returned as she took a moment to mull this over, “Not to worry so much about what others think. Not to take it personally use that criticism to better yourself.”
And on that note -of bettering oneself- the conversation shifted to the James River Writers Organization of which she has served on the board of directors for the past three years. Whenever I hear the words writing organization I immediately envision a quiet group of people sitting around discussing books. Something I naïvely told to Gigi who attempted to suppress a laugh as she quickly dispelled this myth. “The goal of the JRW is to encourage and help writers get out in to the community.” The organization holds and judges contest. Each fall a writers conference (which I will be in attendance this year) is held in Richmond, Virginia. Basically organizations such as the JRW, “They’re good for writers.” Alright I’m convinced and will soon be a member.
Before we said our goodbyes I managed to snag a little known piece of information about Gigi, she is going for her yoga teacher certification. At first I thought this to be very odd, from writing great YA to yoga instructor yet once again it did not take long for Gigi to enlighten me, “I relate it to writing…very personal.” All wide eyed trying to ignore my daughter who is growing more restless by the second I poised this final question, “What’s next for Gigi?”
“I’ll continue to write.”
So who was that girl? Gigi Amateau of course: )
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Happy reading, writing or whatever: )