Welcome back to Alchemy for Authors!
In this episode, I share a brief personal update and then talk with prolific author, Kelly Kaur.
Some of the topics discussed in this episode include:
- How Kelly got a poem and book sent to the moon.
- How she went from twenty years of dreaming about writing a book to writing one in 100 days.
- How Kelly dances with rejection and keeps writing.
- How she overcame her resistance to calling herself a writer.
- Why Kelly’s writing practice doesn’t follow rules.
- Why writing to connect is more exciting than money.
If you’re ready to take more chances with your writing, then this is the episode for you!
Connect with Kelly on Instagram here.
Connect with Kelly on Facebook here.
Visit Kelly’s website and learn more about her stories and poems here: https://www.kellykaur.com/
If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate and review. You can also support the show by buying me a coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/jobuer. Your support helps me keep this podcast going.
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If you enjoy Gothic Suspense, you can join my reader’s newsletter and download a FREE copy of my short story collection, Between the Shadows, here.
Find the full transcript of this episode below.
Episode 45: Taking a Chance with Kelly Kaur
Jo: Hello, hello, my friends. I am so thrilled to have you join me for another episode of Alchemy for Authors. First I thought this week, I would share with you a quick personal update. Because I think it’s kind of important that I don’t just talk to you about writing here on this podcast, but kind of maybe prove that I do actually right behind the scenes as well.
So, I have been on a break from the day job for the last couple of weeks, which means I have put all my attentions on prepping for the year ahead when it comes to my writing and what I want to achieve with my writing this year. Making the most of this time before I go back to the day job.
So a week ago I finished up final edits on a Gothic novella, which I had gotten back from my editor about a month ago. Now this novella is similar in vein to my other short stories that I’ve written it’s a little bit kind of like Gothic literary fiction, I guess. And I wrote it, I actually wrote it when I had COVID, so at the time, I was pretty proud of it, but in my final edits here I definitely went through the imposter syndrome of doubting the quality of it, I guess. But we will say sometimes, you know, I think we’re our own worst critics with these things.
It was actually written for a collaboration project that I’m doing with six other authors. We’re all contributing a short story or novella to put into a anthology. And the six other authors that I’m collaborating with, they’re all women authors and we all write in very different genres. So this compilation really crosses a lot of genres, which is really cool.
In the next week or so we will be actually offering this anthology to our newsletter subscribers. It’s a bit of a experiment that we’re doing to hopefully increase our signups. Uh, at the end of each of our stories is of course a CTA or links to sign up to our newsletters. So of course this will be going out to six other authors newsletter lists as well, which is really cool. So it’s cool for our readers because they get seven really awesome stories to look through and expose them to different authors in different genres. And then hopefully we’ll see, but we might get some extra signups from that which has really cool.
So, if you’re interested, you might want to consider signing up to my author newsletter. And you can do that just by going to my website. At https://jobuer.com. But knowing that a lot of people do love freebies, but not everybody wants to join a newsletter, I am going to be putting just my novella on its own, up for sale across different platforms as well. Probably an ebook. And I think I’m also going to try in paperback. So that is something that I’ve got in the works. I’m just waiting to get the cover back for my novella to sell on its own, hopefully in the next couple of days in, then I’ll be taking some time to do all the front and back matter and the blurb and all the rest of it and looking at putting that out in the world. But if you’re wanting that novella with six other awesome stories from other authors, then of course like if you want that for free, of course, consider joining my newsletter.
I have also over the last, gosh, maybe month actually being, putting in some pretty horrendous hours, and if I’m honest, rewriting and editing my first paranormal cozy novel. I normally write Gothic fiction, and so this is quite a genre jump for me. There’s no sex. There’s no swearing. It’s I’m also writing it in first person, whereas I usually tend to lean more comfortably towards third person. So it’s been quite a change, but it has also been such a wickedly fun project as well. And so this has really just been a passion project of doing what’s made me happy. But it’s also been pretty intensive, the last little while I’ve been pretty much having to rewrite and edit the entire thing really to get it to my editor, which should be in the next couple of days, if not before. Simply because I am a discovery writer, and so plotting is not my thing. And as I’ve found out, when you’re writing a mystery, it definitely, um, plotting is definitely a good thing to consider. And so for my next book, I will be diving into that. And I’ve actually got an upcoming episode here on Alchemy for Authors, where I talk all about plotting with a wonderful guest. So I’m looking forward to getting that out to you in the next little while.
So, yeah, so there is almost ready as I’m recording this to go to my editor. And then I pretty much sit there for, I don’t know, it might be two weeks or it might be a month, however long it takes her. I’m not in a rush, but, I’ll be nail biting, wondering how much I’ll have to maybe rewrite and redo and get it back. So that will be fun.
And then really my next project that hopefully I’ll get to look at a little bit this week, is putting together a bit of a launch and marketing strategy for this novel when I release it into the world. Yeah, as well as looking into plotting a little bit more so I can start getting sorted for writing the next book. Which is rather exciting. So as much as I’m loving all this at work, like I said, it’s been some horrendous hours if I’m honest and I almost feel like I am ready for a holiday from this holiday, I guess before I go back to my day job. But yes. Anyway, so I’m just going to say it again, but if you enjoy Gothic literary fiction, then absolutely go check out my website https://jobuer.com. And if you do sign up to my newsletter, you actually get a free, short story collection from me anyway. And then when this new anthology comes out with seven of us authors then you will be receiving a copy of that for free as well, which is really, really cool.
Also, if you enjoy paranormal cozy mystery stories, then maybe join at my newsletter as well so you can stay in the loop of what is happening with that book and when that gets released. So, yeah, other than that, I have also been interviewing some pretty awesome guests for the show. And I have just had the amazing opportunity to be interviewed for another podcast. One that I really, really, really love, and I’m a follower of, and it’s in the genre of writing and everything. And I will be keeping you guys in the loop of what that is when that goes to air as well.
So, yeah, but I guess, uh, onto today’s show, I have a wonderful guest for you. I am talking to author Kelly Kaur. And she is just so much fun and so delightful to talk with and really, really inspiring. Some of the wonderful things that she is going to share with us today are things like, how Kelly got her book and poem sent to the moon. I mean, that’s pretty epic on its own. How she went from dreaming about writing a novel for 20 years to writing one in a hundred days. How she dances with rejection and keeps writing. And how she overcomes that resistance towards calling herself a writer. And why writing to connect is so much more exciting to her, then making money.
So, when you are ready, I think go grab yourself a drink, find a comfy chair, settle in and enjoy the show.
Hello my lovelies. Welcome back to another episode of Alchemy for Authors. Today I’m chatting with prolific author, Kelly Kaur. Kelly’s novel, Letters to Singapore, was published by Stonehouse Publishing in May, 2022. Her poems and works are being published internationally. Kelly’s poem, The Justice of Death, was awarded Honorable Mention in the Creators of Justice Literary Awards, International Human Rights Art Festival in New York.
She was selected for the Only Question Project, Manheim, Calgary, and her story, the Kitchen is Her Home, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2022. And her works are also on the Luna Codex Project. Her poem, A Singaporean’s Love Affair, is, or maybe at this point in 2022, it’s already gone to the moon on the NOVA Mission, on the NOVA Time Capsule. And Letters to Singapore will be going on the moon of the Griffin Mission on the Polaris Time Capsule show in 2023/2024. So welcome Kelly. I’m so thrilled to have you on the show.
Kelly: Hello. Hello. I’m delighted to be here. Thank you for having me.
Jo: It’s so wonderful to talk to somebody who’s in Calgary because I adore Calgary. I lived there for several years, so it’s so neat chatting with you. Yay.
Kelly: It’s a small world. I love it.
Jo: It is. So, I would love if you could share a little bit about how your writing journey began. If you’d always wanted to be an author, or what happened along the way to get you to where you are today?
Kelly: Absolutely. I always wanted to be a writer. It was something I thought about, I dreamt about, but I didn’t have the opportunity to do much about it. And about 20 years ago or so, I had a couple of poems published when I was in the university and I was very excited and I wrote a collection of stories and I sent everything off. And besides the two that were accepted, I just got so many rejections. And the rejections, you know, made me feel really dejected. I started questioning whether I had a place, whether my stories had a voice, what I was doing, what I needed to do, and then life happened. I had to take care of family and kids and work and, and there were so many excuses. So I, I, I gave up writing. And then in 2019, I was accepted into a writing program for immigrant women, and during that time, that was when I realized that this was an opportunity for me to do something or wait another 20 years and be dead. So I took the chance to write my novel, Letters to Singapore, and I have to tell you that I had no clue what I was going to do. When I went for the interview, they asked me, what do you have in mind? And I said, I have brainstormed with my daughter the night before and I said, Letters to Singapore. And they loved it. And they got me an amazing mentor and she said, what are you going to do? So I just kept repeating Letters to Singapore. And I think that having that support and having that chance to actually do something made me write this novel in 100 days. What I couldn’t do in 20 years. Yeah. Not because I’m amazing, but because I didn’t do it. And then I had the time pressure, commitment, desire, joy, and challenge to say, let’s see what you have, Kelly. And I’m so glad that I didn’t give up.
Jo: That is so amazing. I find it so interesting how you said right at the very beginning when you were at university and a couple of your poems got accepted for publication, but then when those rejections came for your stories, that was what held you back from writing. Yes. So it’s amazing to me how even though you had that success, you had two poems published, which is some kind of verification that you can write, but that the negativity that comes from all those rejections, overwhelmed that.
Kelly: Yes. And they still do. I still have to fight that. So during Covid, which was my Covid Bounty Years, I call them, between 2020 to 2022, when I was at home teaching online for two universities. And in between when I was procrastinating, which I did a lot, mm-hmm, I would start sending things off internationally. And in those two years, I had over 40 of my stories, fiction, non-fiction, accepted in publications and anthologies all around the world.
And that’s when I thought, what happened? What, what, what changed? Why? Why did I give up? And every time I got accepted, it gave me more confidence. When I got rejected, it took me a few steps back. So I started doing this dance. And even today that dance continues because, you know, rejection is part of life. And I think that’s the lesson that when you want to write, when you have something to say, you say it. And if it’s accepted, wonderful, and if it’s not, then you still have that story or poem to look at. Right? So it’s changing my mindset and believing in magic and possibilities, and growing my confidence so that I can actually call myself a writer.
Jo: Oh, I love that. That is so cool. So what was it then? Was it just because it was the pandemic and, I think everybody’s world was kind of turned upside down at that point, that you decided to give writing another shot and went about sending your work out to lots of different places for publication? Like what, what was that switch that went off that made you go from not submitting to suddenly submitting a lot of your work?
Kelly: I think first of all, having the novel accepted for publication, mm-hmm, gave me that confidence, and secondly, I decided to move out of just Canada. There were some places where people say you’ll never get published, and Oh my goodness, that place. And I thought, okay, what about United Kingdom? What about Australia? What about Singapore? And when I started doing that, it, I just started sending so many off. So when the rejections came, they were two out of four. So then it was balance. I didn’t feel like I was just getting rejected. And I think I felt more confident about what I wanted to say.
I’m interested in the outsider syndrome. About people who are immigrants, people who are women, people who are people of color. And obviously those are my experiences, and I thought, you know, I, I have, I have something to share. And if one person can appreciate, share my journey, then that’s good. I found that kinship that we all want when we read people’s writing. And I think that the more I got accepted, the more exciting it became and I became bolder and, and I kept sending things off.
So I had about three or four things published by the International Human Rights Art Festival, and from that, just a few weeks ago, I was invited to now be a preliminary reader for their e r publishers website. So I don’t know what happened from, from not writing, to taking a chance, to being published, to now accepting people’s writing from all over the world. And the only thing I can say for myself is, you know, , when you live, your passion doors open and when they open you have to take a chance and, and go through them. And they just keep opening. And I’m just, I’m just, I’m just so excited.
Jo: Oh, I so love that for you and I totally agree with when you live your passion, it’s amazing what opportunities just open up and come your way. I think we’re. When we’re living our passion, when we are doing that thing that lights us up, we’re happier. And so we see those positives more often too. And we, yeah, it’s just like the universe just conspires really to help us out, doesn’t it? The things just happen easier.
Kelly: It is. And I’ve become bolder. Mm-hmm. And more stubborn and I want to take chances. So for example, I went to Singapore and then I applied to be to launch my book at the Ubud Writers Festival in Bali. I had seen that festival for years and dreamt about it. So maybe manifestation. Mm. Maybe pure luck. So I sent in my application and when I arrived in Singapore, I didn’t even bring enough books. So when they said, You are in, you’re going to launch your book in Bali. The biggest festival in Southeast Asia. I think that’s when I realized that dreams and magic were both happening to me. So I ended up buying my own book on amazon.com being sent to me in Singapore, going on this amazing trip and launching my book.
Now think, when I think that I didn’t write for 20 years, and then in this few years, all these things happen, that makes me say, keep on trying. Don’t, don’t stop. Take a chance. Take a chance on yourself. So I met people at the writers festival who say, I want to write, and I looked at them and I thought that was me just, just two years ago thinking I couldn’t do it. So it’s, it’s just wonderful. The journey, the journey is so heartwarming and I’m so grateful.
Jo: Oh, I just love hearing that, and I can just hear that passion in your voice, and I just love that you are able to live this life and inspiring others to do it too. Because I think that is something that a lot of us do regret, is that we can let our own negative thoughts and that towards our writing and our potential hold us back, stop us from doing those things that we really, really love. Because I know for myself, I talked about wanting to be an author and wanting to write my entire life, and then it wasn’t until 2020 that I actually got off my butt and made it happen. Right? Yeah. And when you think about, not, not wasted years, but those years when you could have been so much happier because you were just believing in yourself a little bit more.
Kelly: Right. Yeah. And it’s not easy because I have to write something else right now, and I’m so immersed in it. I literally wrote three stories in my sleep. When I woke up, I couldn’t remember anything, but I can’t believe that it became part of my subconscious. I’m still struggling to actually sit down and write, so I’m not saying it’s easy or magic happens that fast. I still requires the discipline and the time, and darn it, I wish I remembered those dreams. They were really good stories.
Jo: I, I do that too all the time. Or I, when I, um, cuz I usually write in the evening, so my story will continue, like writing itself while I’m sleeping. But then in the morning I’m like, oh, I knew it was a really good idea and I knew what that next scene was, but I can’t remember it now. So, yeah. Yeah, it’s funny like that. So at what point then, because you sound like you are like most of us, in that you’ve had some of that imposter syndrome and that little bit of doubting your abilities and that, so at what point were you comfortable calling yourself an author? At what point did you claim that title for yourself?
Kelly: I’m still a little bashful about it, but I think that because my book has received some success. It’s been on Calgary and Alberta’s bestseller lists. I’ve, people reached out to me from all over unexpectedly to tell me how the book affected them or what they liked about it. Then I think, yeah, I am a writer. Yes. And the irony is I teach University Composition at Mount Royal University and for 30 years I make the students repeat after me: I am a writer! So they always do that and they giggle. And when their writing improves, I see that confidence in them. So I like that you’re asking me that, because as I was saying that, I’m like, yeah, I mean, you know, I have to hold my book up. So I mean, look, look, I’m a writer.
Jo: That’s right. Yeah. I love that. I have always felt that there’s such a mindset shift when we give ourselves permission to accept that we are a writer, that we are an author. I was a little bit cheeky in that I made myself, and it was really out of my comfort zone, but I made myself claim that title of been an author before I was really a published author. Like I hadn’t written any books. But I’d had a couple of short stories published in a literary journal and that, but I was like, well, no, this is my intention. This is what I want to be, having written novels and that, so I’m gonna claim that and just make that happen, and yeah, and it did. And it’s amazing. I think we really can change our mindset by allowing ourselves to call ourselves writers or authors or, yeah.
Kelly: It’s funny how I, or one is resistant to that. Hmm. I think that perhaps speaking from me as a woman, maybe we, we kind of, uh, you know, perhaps I’m apologetic because I think it’s not good enough or, you know, it should be better, or perhaps coming from my culture and background where we don’t talk much about ourselves. So it’s that sense of discomfort. that comes from who we are, our background. And on the other hand, you don’t wanna go around strutting and saying, I am a writer, I’ve got one book published. And, and so that’s that, that’s that being in the middle. And I think that middle is, I’m happy. I’m proud of finally doing it for me. I’m so grateful that people read my book and enjoy it. So I think once I reach that point, then saying I’m a writer becomes that gift that I give to myself, right? Is not something I claim. It’s not something I deserve. It’s something that I worked for. So I’m a writer.
Jo: Yep. I love it. I love it. And I love how you said that it, it is a gift that you give to yourself. Yeah. And I love that you are having your students repeat that because I’m a, uh, not a university teacher, but I am a teacher of 12 year olds at the moment, and I quite often get them to say similar things to, to believe that they are writers. You’ve written before you can write again and you’re getting better every day. So, yeah.
Kelly: Yeah. I think writing is so, uh, such interesting things we do because we write, it’s very subjective. It’s who we are. There are bits and pieces of us in it. So when people say not very nice things, then it becomes something that’s hard to deal with. Right? The reviews. Yeah. Or the comments. And that’s where being a writer has so many facets to it, right? So you let it go. You, you move on, you write your next book. I remember my mentor said, okay, so you have a book published. Alright, write the next one. Write the next one. And when you think how long it takes, I sometimes get nervous because when will I finish my next book? And it will take one to two years before it actually shows up, mm-hmm, if you’re not self-publishing, if you’re going through a publisher. So it’s a very long process, you know, it’s not instant.
Jo: No. And so you’ve really gotta be dedicated to it. You’ve really gotta feel that passion to want to see it through. Don’t you? So, so
Kelly: I know, and I’m just realizing even though we are all writers, and I love that you have this opportunity to speak to writers and to connect us, it’s such a lonely thing, isn’t it? I, I think about it. I want to write, I feel bad. I know I should sit down and then I watch Netflix. Oh yeah. Or Brick Box. Yeah. Right. Because it’s too much work. So we are connected as writers, but it is such an isolated vocation or job that we do and, and it is so ironic.
Jo: It is, it’s really unusual. And the more authors and writers and that that I talk to, we all seem to go through, have very similar paths to it. We, we have those same insecurities, we have those same or similar things that really light us up and those same challenges that we come across as well. Right. So, I did want to ask you, what was the most challenging part of getting your latest novel written or published? Like was there something that was a little bit more challenging along the way?
Kelly: I have to say that a lot of luck was involved and I must have done done the Dance of Luck. Because when I wrote my novel, I really did not think anything would happen to. Because now when I do, I thought I should have done this. I should have changed the names. I, I should have put in a few more stories here.
But when I was going through the process, I thought, okay, let me write the book. And my manager said she liked it, but she has to cuz you know, she’s mentoring me. And then when I sent it out, that first publisher that I sent it to, accepted it. And so it was, I was just very lucky. And then it was launched. So the difficult thing I think for me is realizing, I don’t know this, I don’t know what happens. I’m a first time writer now. I wrote the book. Now what? Okay, I got published, now what? So I got published now, now launching. What’s that? Now? What do I do? So I think it’s just learning what next. And I always say to myself, there are hundred new writers and books that come out every day, right? Yeah. And you write a book. So what? You write a book, oh my God, you write a book, you win awards, you don’t. Somebody cares. Nobody cares. So it’s such a crazy relationship. So the difficult thing or challenging thing for me is what do we do? What now? What’s the next book and how come some people take it to the top, some people don’t? Some people read your books, some don’t. So it’s that curiosity as a new writer, and a newbie.
Jo: Oh, I love that. That’s so fascinating too, because they’re all really good questions for us to reflect on about our author journey or, or what we want at the, you know, like what we’re actually striving for. Because for some people listening to this, it might just be writing one book and having one book out in the world. And, for a whole lot of others, it is we might want a career from doing this, or we might have lots of things that we want to say. So we want to put out lots of novels and books and poems and everything too. So we’re all on different journeys. So I think reflecting on, yeah, what it is that we are striving for and what that next step is to lead us towards that is so important.
Kelly: Yeah. And for me, I think one of the big things is I really don’t care about the money. I know it’s not gonna be a Harry Potter, and of course I want to be the billionaire, but that’s not my motivation. Some people say, you’re gonna be rich and how much you’re gonna make. I’m like, no, I probably spend more money than get the money in, but that’s okay because my story is about women. It’s about women between 1985 to 1988. Indian women, Chinese women, women from Singapore, stories that have been invisible and unheard, and just to have it out there and people talk to me, and no matter where they are in the world, I just can’t believe, and that’s the most exciting thing, is a writer that we connect.
I have someone in Calgary say, I came from a small farm outside of Calgary, I know what you’re talking about. I went skiing, I know what you’re talking about. I can’t believe women’s rights or women are still going through a tough time, I know what you’re talking about. And that was my fear when I wrote, I thought, who wants to hear about women from Singapore or arranged marriages? And people say, I didn’t know. I never knew. Or, this is what happened to me as well. And that is more exciting than money.
Jo: Oh, I totally agree with you. I just love that. The fact that our words and our experiences, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, we always put a little piece of ourself in our work, I believe. And the fact that it can make other people from different backgrounds and that feel something, is … it’s powerful stuff. It’s very powerful. It’s very special and yeah, it’s one of the reasons that I absolutely adore writing myself, just being able to connect with other people through my words. Yeah.
Kelly: I can imagine. Yeah. That confidence, right, that you have and you grow and you give, you know, it’s a gift that keeps giving.
Jo: Yeah. So, fantastic. So I’m curious then, so you lecture full-time, do you?
Kelly: Yes. I’m an lecturer. I usually do two semesters fall and winter.
Jo: And so what does your writing process look like? Like do you have a bit of a routine? Because, from the people that I know who have taught at universities and as a teacher myself, there’s a lot of work behind the scenes, when we’re not in front of our classes, and there’s marking, and there’s assessments, and there’s everything else. How do you balance that with your writing? Particularly, as in class, you also teach writing, and helping other students and that with their writing. How do you kind of transition between the two from teaching to doing your own writing?
Kelly: I think that’s a great question. And again, as a newbie, I have to say that giving advice is easy. Mm-hmm. So we’ve all heard the advice of, you know, set the time. Morning. Most people talk about the morning, I hate the mornings, I’m a night owl. Yeah. And they say, write for one hour, two hours, three hours, take time off. Uh write. Put it aside. Edit. So I know all of that from me giving advice, reading about it, and hearing other writers.
I have to say, I just follow what works for me, which is I sit down, I find some time, and then I just write. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s morning, noon, night, evening. I have to get into the mood and the mode. Mm-hmm. So I think that it’s personal. And when we tell people they have to do A, B, C, then people say, like me, no, I need a house in the mountains. I need the inspiration of the Rockies, so I’m not gonna write for 20 years. And during Covid, sitting on the couch, marking papers in between, just writing. So it just happened because I stopped trying to give myself any rules. So rules are good for those who want them. Have a writing practice, a place, a space, and then for people like me, just write whenever inspiration calls you.
And one thing that I have told students that I don’t do, because I’m more a type person, but is to have your phone, now the phone is so useful, and just record yourself. Record your story when you go for a walk. And if you say I can’t write, when you do that, when you listen back to yourself, that’s where the story is or can be as well.
Kelly: So for me, I’m quite a disorganized, just do it. Oh my God. I have to send something in one day. Better get down to it, kind of writer.
Jo: Yeah. That’s very, very similar to how I write too. So I completely understand that. And I totally agree that there is no one right way. And I think there is a bit of a trap that many writers and authors can fall into, and believing that there is only that one way that they’ve gotta get up at five o’clock and write for an hour every single day. Or yeah, they, they have to write a thousand words every day and, and that there’s no way that would work for me. I’m much more creative in that in the evenings. Yeah, there’s a whole lot of things that go into, we’re all very different and so we need to be open to approaching our writing in different ways too that work for us.
Kelly: Yeah, and not criticize or be critical or tell them what works for you. Works for me. Must work for you, as you just said.
Right? Yeah. So I think that when one writes, I think that that passion and that flow will, will fall into place. And, and that’s sounds very airy fairy as well. But I know for example, right now, I, I want to write this poem and I’ve been thinking about it. And I sat down to write it and, and that’s good. I’ve got draft number one and then I realized, my own practice without knowing I had a practice, is to write the poem, the draft, and then keep coming back to it and changing things and changing words, and then I’ll do it for however long I have the patience for. One day, two days, one week, two weeks. And then suddenly I reached the point where I’m like, you know what? I’m gonna send this off. I, I’m done for now, because I have papers to mark and I have the next poem to go to.
So I know people who have edited their books for 10 years. Mm-hmm. I can’t do that. I, I, I wasted 20 years, but I’m not going to edit my, my novel or my poem for 10 years. It’s not wrong. Mm-hmm. I think it works for whom it works for, but that’s where we are so special and unique in our own writing, and I think we need to acknowledge and celebrate that. It’s okay.
Jo: Yes. Totally, totally agree with that. So much, so much, yes. Now I am so fascinated because I’ve not heard until, um, chatting with you, I hadn’t even heard that this was an option, but the fact that you’ve got a poem and your book as well is going to the moon! Can you talk a little bit about that? Like how did this even come about? What is this about?
Kelly: So this is part of me being the new writer and deciding to explore. I call it procrastination, sometimes, sometimes I call it explore. I can’t sleep at night. I’ll just go online and look for submissions or things to do, or, or. And then I came across the Luna Codex Project, and this is a Canadian man in Toronto who’s a writer and a physicist himself, who created the Luna Codex Project to encourage people, mankind, humankind, to write, especially during Covid times. And then he secures spots on the capsules to take them to the moon. So he’s got three projects.
So when I wrote my poem and I got in touch with him, I submitted it. He was really wonderful in accepting my poem because, he could understand. He knew Singapore, he knew about the specific food I was mentioning, and he wanted writers and voices from all over the world. So I had that Singapore, Canadian component. Mm-hmm. So he was very welcoming and agreed to include my poem in one of the, uh, capsules, the mission, the NOVA Mission. And then when my book came out, the same thing happened. And I think because of his desire to include people from all over, I can’t remember the numbers. I think over 200 countries and writing and dance and music and art. He wanted to send them all up to the moon to be housed there permanently as an encouragement and inspiration to aliens and to anyone else who will find these works and say, wow, you know, look. Look at the beauty. Look at the beauty of humanity. Look at how wonderful human beings are in creating. And he was so delighted, this Luna Kodak’s, uh, project, that he was so delighted at how writers were so happy at being included. So it’s just a joy that kept on giving. So I’m really fortunate to have two pieces going up forever, really just, just, just a proud moment. Unexpected. Took a chance and doors started opening and as they say, when you believe in yourself, you can fly to the moon.
Jo: Oh, I love that. That is just, it’s so inspiring. And what a legacy too. What a legacy to kind of leave behind, because yeah, if anything were to happen to our planet or, or anything, your work will survive that, which is absolutely amazing. It’s, yeah, it’s, it’s really mind blowing to me.
Kelly: Yeah. And it’s something that I didn’t write, so I could do that because I didn’t know that existed until I did this. Mm-hmm. So that’s why I say that things happen and once you get into the mindset of being a writer, doors open. And I, I heard all these things and I thought, oh, well, you know, we, we all know about the haha, live your passion. When it happens to me, I, I’m just like, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, grateful. And I believe then in manifesting more and believing more and reaching out, taking a chance and yeah, I still get rejections and, you know, I curse under my breath and I’m like, ah, and then move on and go to the next project.
Jo: Yeah. I think that is just so great. And I think that’s such an important lesson for us too, because I talk a lot on this podcast about following your passions and doing those things that light you up. And I realize as I’m saying it, what a cliche it is, but there is so much truth that when you are doing those things that you love and are passionate about, it really is life changing.
And it, you know, you feel it on the inside. I’ve always spoken to, when I’m writing, when I’m doing this podcast, when I’m doing the things that I love, I almost feel like I’m a better person. I’m a nicer person to be around in my normal life. Yeah. And I’m just happier. But it is just taking those chances and stepping outside of our comfort zone really does open doors to the most amazing opportunities. And I know for myself, just taking the chance, even doing this podcast, the amazing people like yourself that I get to talk to and learn from is just yeah, phenomenal to me. So as much of a cliche as it sounds, I still just recommend people just do it. Do that thing that you love.
Kelly: Yeah. Yeah. And, and I still can’t believe that I actually finally did it. And I think that when I see people now, I mean, they always say, what do I do? And I think it’s that moment we can tell them, write, sit down. But I always tell them that it’s that moment, that epiphany where you say, I want to write. I want to write. I have a story. I have a story. And then one day you just wake up and you say, you know what? I don’t know why, but right now I have to tell that story.
And I think when I started writing, I wanted it to be just right, but I think right now I would say just write. Write the story. And as you write the story and when, and if you come back to it, that’s where you can start making the editing. Mm-hmm. And there’s so many poems and fiction and nonfiction. That’s what I did. It was just horrible. You know, I was just writing something. I thought, oh my God, I would give myself a D in this myself as my lecturer in my own class. But then I came back and I polished, and I polished, and I polished. And then it gets nominated for a Pushcart Prize, but rejected two or three times elsewhere.
So that’s the lesson that I learned as well. Right? Just because one person doesn’t like it, doesn’t mean other venues may not. And I think some people also, I don’t think we all have to be published. I think that was the other thing. I enjoy being published. Mm-hmm. I enjoy sharing my voice. But perhaps writing should just be writing as well. Yeah. And people enjoy that. They keep diaries and journals and logs. And there’s the option of publishing online. Self-publish. Yeah. There’s so many opportunities now, depending on your game plan. What makes you happy.
Jo: That’s absolutely right. And I think that is so important that if you love writing, you don’t have to aspire to be published. No. It would be horrible, I think for people to dampen that passion for writing because they felt like, well, you know, I’ve written this story I guess I’ve gotta go through the rigmarole of getting it published. I don’t really want to, but that’s what you do. Otherwise, why am I doing this? Like, right. Yeah. No. There is something to be said for just doing something for the sake of doing it because you love it and you enjoy it.
Kelly: That’s true. And I think that the pressure to be accepted and published. I mean, I still feel it. You know, when I send something and it’s not accepted. Just this morning I was thinking, you know, that place, they’ve rejected me three times. Darn it. I’m not sending anything to them ever again. And then now that I have this opportunity to be reading works from all around the world, oh my god, they’re amazing. But I have to select the ones that fit into what the International Human Rights Art Festival is looking for. So I’m learning so much being a reader in the background and watching and growing. And I think that’s where it’s wonderful where writers connect and learn from each other because you may be simply amazing, but it may not fit what people are looking for. And that’s the lesson to myself too, that not to take it personally, and if I do, then I just go out and buy chocolate and console myself.
Jo: Absolutely. Chocolate cures everything. I agree with that. Yes. That is so, so good. And it is, writing like any art form is so subjective. People are going to hate your work and people are gonna love it and yeah. And I, I think that’s really important for anybody listening to this to know, don’t give up at that first hurdle. We all get those rejections. We all do. I had one short story where I only sent it into three different places, and the first place was really rude with saying no. But they were quite harsh with it. And the second place was, we love your story it’s just not quite the right fit for what we are looking for right now, which was just lovely. It was the best rejection I’ve ever had. Yeah. And then the third place was, yeah, we love it. We’ll take it. So you know, you just, you don’t know. It’s, um, it could come down to, yeah, just not a right fit for that particular publisher or journal or something at that time. It could be that the person who looked at it was having a bad day and it just didn’t resonate with them.
There’s a million things, but none of that means that you are horrible at what you do or you should stop, you know, putting yourself out there. And I think the thing that I’m taking away from chatting with you today is just the real importance of taking those chances and stepping outside of your comfort zone and stepping outside of the kind of box too, and looking at different alternatives, right?
Kelly: Yeah, and it’s simple. What I do is I just go online and I do creative writing submissions December, 2022, and then I’ll see who’s looking for what from all over the world. And then I’ll look through and say, oh, maybe you know there’s a theme, or I’ll try this, or no, or this is what’s happening and that’s how I’ve sent some of my stuff that has been accepted. And I never would’ve thought because I just kept sending them to the few that I knew. Yeah. So the world is your oyster, you know? Don’t, don’t stay where you are. Look for international submissions in Singapore, uh, New Zealand, wherever you are from. Yeah. Or places you are from. Try those and you never. Right?
Jo: No, no. And at the end of the day, even if you just end up with a whole lot of rejections, just by the practice of doing that and writing, you are getting better. So I think that’s really, really important. And it’s so funny how it’s so very easy just to, to Google and to find all that information. It’s all there for us. We just sometimes forget to look for it. And even though it’s can be hard work at times actually doing the writing. Mm-hmm. It, it really is so simple. If you want to get your work out there, and there is a lot to be said for that persistence and fine tuning your craft, but there are so many opportunities out there.
Kelly: Yeah. And one more thing that I wish I had more time to do and I should, which I do a little off, is read other people’s works. Mm-hmm. If you go into this magazine, see what has been accepted, what is working, what kind of voice, what kind of stories. And of course, you know, look at the established writers out there too, and find one that you resonate with and sort of mimic the design. Not plagiarize, but yeah. Yeah. Can you follow that till you come up with your own voice or go on with your voice and, and, and make it move with what feels right for you.
Jo: Yeah, that’s great market research really, isn’t it? It’s just doing your market research to make sure that you are resonating with the audience.
Kelly: So, absolutely. Because I’ve seen some poems. I’m like, oh my God, how come mine got rejected and yours got accepted? And they’re probably saying the same things about me. Right? So it’s that learning protest and saying this poem worked. Yeah. For that moment or, or it’s really quite amazing. And then look at mine and say, wow, you know, we really need to do some work there. So it’s very interesting just learning and growing.
Jo: Yeah. Such a wonderful journey. I just, yeah, so much fun. So what would your advice be then, if you’ve got one major tip or piece of advice for somebody who is just teetering on the edge of, they’re wanting to write and they’re maybe wanting to get it out there in the world, but they’re still a little bit on the, you know, sitting on the fence because they’re a little bit, um, scared or not sure if they’ve got what it takes? What would your final push be for them? What would you say to them?
Kelly: So I think it ranges from the cliche of believe in yourself. Give yourself a chance. To something more concrete like take a writing class, join a writing workshop. To something even clearer like get a mentor to help you. So there’s so many ways you can go with it and for it, that will cost money or cost nothing. And I think that just take a chance. Just send something off and take one poem and send it to 10 different places just for fun and see what happens.
Jo: I love that. I love that. I keep going back to take a chance. Take a chance. I’m just, that’s so just, I’m just getting a lot of that from you today and I love that it’s so important. So you’ve talked a little bit about you’re writing another novel, is that what’s next for you or what do you have on the horizon? ,
Kelly: I’ve got two in my mind, mm-hmm, that I keep dreaming about. I like setting it in my countries, my two favorite countries, Singapore, Canada. So I’m trying to come out with stories and that’s why I, I spent a lot of time in Singapore to kind of immerse myself. I was stalking people, talking to them, listening, getting stories, and then I’m trying to see what to do with, with that information that I have because, it’s so different, right? When you have two different cultures, two different ways of speaking and thinking and believing. Now I’m trying to find out how to craft them into stories. So that’s something new for me too. I’m learning and I’ve been reading short stories as well, so it’s a long process. It’s challenging. And that some days I’m frustrated, some days I’m excited, so that the ambivalence continues. But I’m committed to coming up with the stories because I think that there are some beautiful messages and connections in the stories that I felt, when I was thinking about them, so fingers crossed.
Jo: Yay. That’s so exciting. So exciting. And in the meantime, while you’re working on these bigger projects, you are also still going to be writing your poetry and submitting as well? Yes.
Kelly: Yeah, I am. And I’ve been invited to be on writing panels and workshops and being online. So that continues and that was something really exciting, I didn’t expect as well. The opportunity to step on the outside and, and even just being with you. Yeah. Just so wonderful to share because as I’m talking to you, I feel that passion come back and it’s wonderful for me and it’s so grateful that you allow me that platform to share my ideas and my passion. So thank you.
Jo: Oh, my pleasure. This is, honestly, I get such a buzz from chatting with people and this has been so much fun, so, yay. Well, I am gonna, Wind up here, but I, I would love if you could share where people can connect with you and where they can find your novel and find some of your other works as well.
Kelly: Yes, definitely. So I have a website, it’s www.kellykaur.com. I’m also on LinkedIn and if you Google me, I teach at Mount Royal University, you’ll find my email. And so those are all the different ways of getting in touch with me.
Jo: Wonderful. Wonderful. And I’ll make sure that all those links, including the links to letters to Singapore are in the show notes as well, so people can check that out.
Kelly: Yes. And if you do read it and want to drop me a line or two to tell me how you, you know, how you felt or you felt any connections, I would truly appreciate it.
Jo: Wonderful. And leave reviews people. We all, we all need leave reviews.
Kelly: People don’t do that. And, I always leave people alone because it’s, uh, it’s something, as writers we know that it’s what makes you happy. So, yeah. Yeah.
Jo: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for coming on to today’s show, and it has just been so wonderful to talk to somebody who’s just so passionate about the wonderful writing life they’ve created for themselves. So thank you, Kelly.
Kelly: And please don’t wait 20 years, people. Write. And thank you so much, Jo, and have a wonderful, wonderful time. It’s cold and frozen here, so semi-warm hugs,
Jo: Will do. Wonderful.
So here are some takeaways from today’s show:
1. Rejection is a part of life. Your writing is not going to be a fit for every publication. Do the work, keep submitting, and celebrate the fact you wrote something.
2. When you live your passion, doors open up. Your job is to take a chance and go through those doors.
3. Repeat to yourself often I am a writer. Give yourself the gift of believing it.
4. When it comes to your writing practice or routine, do what works for you. There are no rules. We all work differently. So embrace that.
5. Push aside perfectionism and write. Magic happens in the editing.
6. Google submissions online and be broad. Look internationally to widen your opportunities and better your chances for publication.
So I hope you enjoyed that episode. I found Kelly so inspiring and engaging to talk to, and we’ll definitely be endeavoring to take a chance more often. Now as always, if you’ve enjoyed this episode, you can support me and the show by sharing with a friend, rating or reviewing, tagging me on social media or buy me a coffee. All those links will be in the show notes. And you can find a transcript for this episode on my website at https://jobuer.com.
So finally, I just want to mention, if you haven’t already, you can also download a FREE copy of my PDF: Manifestation for Authors: Tips and Tricks to Supercharge Your Author Life Using the Law of Attraction, when you join my Alchemy for Author’s newsletter. So you will also find the link for that in the show notes below. But until next time I am wishing you a wonderful writing week ahead, my friends. Bye.