I am incredibly lucky to be able to spotlight Tamara Woods. She is a dynamic, intelligent and funny woman whose experiences in life have gifted us with her spirit and talent. I was able to talk with Tamara about her book The Shaping of an “Angry” Black Woman and about her motivation as well.
Tell me about The Shaping of an “Angry” Black Woman and what the publishing process has been like for you?
My book was a 15 year span of poetry. It’s always going to be precious to me. My best friend created the cover and the inside illustrations, Dana J. Clark. My life created the poetry. I’ve always used poetry as a way to sort through events, life, things that were confusing or heavy for me to deal with. I look at the world through a pen’s lens. I’ve always been a copious note taker and I think poetry at times (for me) is a shorthand version of that.
The publishing process was really confusing for me. I hadn’t done as much research at that point about the publishing industry. I was published by a very small press and it just wasn’t what I expected it to be. Next time I’ll be self-publishing. I’ve been researching it for over a year now, so I feel much more prepared.
What gave you the confidence to finally put your book together and stopputting it off?
It took a series of two pretty major illnesses for me to decide that “tomorrow” was going to have to be “today.”
In the fall of 2011, I had blood clots in my lungs. I was hospitalized for weeks. My heart sustained damage. And I had oxygen tank for a few months afterward. Still I decided I would do some other type of job (which had been deciding for years) and I would sneak in some writing when I could. When I had the time.
Then had to have pretty major surgery that took me months to heal from. Each of them happened in an October and with each I was healing into the next year’s spring. I had near misses with both of them. I’m lucky I’m here today. Being faced with my mortality and the understanding that tomorrow is just a dream-today is all we have—that made me write.
I’m not sure if it was so much confidence than a fear of running out of time and a stubborn refusal to not reach this lifelong goal.
And the fame. Lolz.
What advice would you give to new bloggers and writers?
Do it. Write the words. Do not stand in your own way. Do not wait for someone to give you permission. Stop dwelling in excuses. It will never get easier. You will never have the time. Time will not stand patiently for you. It marches along and past all of your hang-ups, fears, and excuses. And before you know it, you’ll have run out of time, and you’ll have those bedside regrets and what-ifs. Who wants that?
Oh and this bit of advice that I write for myself as well. Don’t compare yourself to every “overnight” success. We don’t know how many novels that person wrote that were totally rejected, or the ones which haven’t seen the light of day. We don’t know their struggle to get there. We just see the end result.
Thank you so so much Tamara! Hearing your story is inspiring and I wish you all the success you deserve!
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Tamara Woods was raised (fairly happily) in West Virginia, where she began writing poetry at the age of 12. She published her first poetry collection, The Shaping of an “Angry” Black Woman in 2014 and is working on her first fiction novel. She works as a full-time freelance writer and posts poetry, short stories and indie author interviews on her blog PenPaperPad. She is a hillbilly hermit in Honolulu living with her Mathemagician.
Want to hear words from the wonderful woman yourself?