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  Meet Stacy Thowe: Author

I had the privilege of meeting this incredible woman this month, and I am so thrilled to be featuring her. Stacy has a warmth about her that permeates the discomfort of meeting a person for the first time. She is relatable, endearing, and gifted. Stacy graciously shared the following when asked about herself and her craft:

"I began to write at about the age of twelve when I received my first diary. Up to that point I did not have a desire to write, but I was terribly shy and pretty much an introvert. When I received the diary, it was almost an awakening. I began to write within the small confines of this book as if it were an old friend, one that would comfort and console me. Sending these endless questions and messages out into space as I wrote about the people and community around me.

It wasn’t until I was a junior in high school that I got my first shove in the writing direction. I enrolled in a creative writing class thinking that it would be fun. I enjoyed writing, but had never to this point, actually considered that I was good at writing anything but the daily journals I wrote in the secrecy of my bedroom at home. I remember the assignment as if it were yesterday. We were to write a descriptive story using metaphors and similes to describe a place that we enjoyed visiting and what the place meant to us or to the character in the story. My place was of course the beach. By the time I had finished it, I could literally hear the roar of the ocean, and smell the salty waves creeping up to meet my toes. The teacher was so impressed with my story she hung it on the bulletin board for everyone to see as a good example of a good, descriptive story. And thus, a writer was born. Who says teachers don’t make a big impact on their students? If it hadn’t been for that teacher, I probably wouldn’t be writing today. I was sold. I went on to write at the university level where I found I excelled at the written word, even among those from across the state, but I was still afraid to make it my life mission. The desire to write cried out from inside me, but I pushed it back, always thinking I was unworthy. 

As with everyone, life happened and I started a family but still wrote in the confines of my notebook, mostly poems and short stories. My children motivated me a lot in those days and the innocence of watching them grow. It wasn’t until my divorce,and having to move my children to a new city, that life pushed me into writing again. I had always longed for it and felt it calling out to me, but the weights of the world always interfered. About that time, I came to a crossroads in my life and decided to go back to school to finish my degree. I started with a poetry class and never looked back. I finished my degree and learned so, so much. I thought I was a writer walking into those doors, but I knew I was a writer when I walked out, and my talents were so much more refined. I had found my love once more and I would never lose sight of it again.

Shortly after returning to school, I started writing my first full novel. In between chapters, I wrote short stories as a distraction from the novel. I submitted the short stories and had several published through the years in various journals and magazines. It took me about two years to finish my first novel and when it was done, it was a literary mess. I wanted to tell everything, list every moment and it was weighing the story down. I couldn’t see that less was more. I signed up to meet with a professor at the university to review my work and he helped me to come to terms with, what he knew I would eventually come to learn on my own, to cut what was not needed to push the story forward. At first it was like cutting off my right arm, but eventually it got easier and easier. 

Why do we writers write? It is a question posed to most writers and the question is usually answered with a resounding, “I write for myself.” That is not how I see my writing. I mean, I do draw from my experiences and use it as a catapult to answer worldly questions I pose to myself, but I write, “for others.” I write to make a difference in the lives of my readers. I write to help my readers in any way or aspect that I can. If something in my life, or an experience I have been put through, good or bad, can help someone else then I put it down on paper. I truly believe that is what separates the good writer from the excellent writer. You have to be vulnerable enough to share that story, and that experience that you barely survived. You have to be able to bleed onto the paper and not look back, or hold back. If you were laughing or crying in that moment, so should the reader. Many writers are afraid to take that leap. They are afraid of being judged. I just don’t see it that way. If I have an experience – either something I have lived through or witnessed – I am going to tell a story about it, for the mere fact that it may help someone else who is going through a similar experience. I guess that is why it hurts so much when I am in a waiting period, waiting for my work to be discovered, because if my writing is not out there, I am helping no one. I do not write to see my face on the back of the cover, I write to help others and if my work is not out there among them, then I am failing at my goal. It is the life long struggle of the writer. Well, at least for me. 

I am often asked what inspires me. The question, althoughuniversal, surprises me. The world is so vast and there are so many beautiful, wonderful, terrible things to write about, I feel like, what doesn’t inspire me. I write about my family. I write about my aging grandparents. I write about the homeless man on the corner. If you look around you – and this may be coming from the perspective of a writer – the opportunities are endless. Right now, looking out my dining room window as I write, there is a scene. There is snow flowing through the air, there are trees swaying in the wind, and there are people driving on the snow-covered streets heading to an unknown destination. So, I tend to step back and take a deep breath when asked that question and ask, what around us is there not to write about? My stories are pulled from my life, from my beliefs and from my wondering what would become of us if we didn’t have these stories to share. Life is my canvass. 

My goal is to reach the world through my writing. I could lie and say I don’t dream about book signings and greeting people that I have helped in some small way, but that would not be the truth. This image flashes before me so clearly, that I can almost reach out and grab a hold of it. I see the people reading my novels in tears and then leaning back to let out a deeply needed laugh or smile. I see my characters becoming as close to the reader as they are to me. I love my characters, all of them, as if they were my family. I sometimes feel I get up and write because I feel I owe it to them to complete the story. They are so much a part of me, it hurts me to send them off into the unknown when their time has ended in the story. I sometimes physically cry, but that is a good thing, because if I am not crying, my reader won’t be either. As a writer, we live with thereality that no one may learn of our story, no one will be helped by the blood we spread on the page, but in my heart, I know this is what I am supposed to be doing. I know that even if I helponly a few through my words, I will have accomplished so much. But my dream is to help thousands, millions, and the dream stays alive within me. It is what keeps me pushing forward.

Oh, if I could speak to my younger self, oh what I would tell her. She was such a frail child, afraid to step out of her limited borders. Coming from a family who made due with as little as possible. Whose destiny was defined by their limited upbringings. I was challenged to believe that my dreams of becoming a writer would ever come true. I was challenged to believe that I could rise above the limitations of my single mother who struggled daily to make ends meet. If I could, I would tell this young woman to not be afraid to chase after those dreams. I would reaffirm to her that she is a magnificent writer,and it will be hard and it will be a struggle, but it would all be worth it. But looking back today, I am not sure I would be as good as a writer had I not had those life experiences first. My life-long experiences allowed me to see the world in a different way. With an older set of eyes. It helped me to live a life full ofchallenges that everyone struggles with. It helped me to relate to people in a new way that as a young person, I am not sure I would have been aware of. 

I am blessed to be a writer. It is all I want to be. It is what wakes me up in the morning and is part of the reason I breath in and out each day. My hope, my dream, is to have a profound effect on others, so much so, that they relive my stories over and over again in their minds and the story helps them to move forward and make sense out of life in some small way. It helps them to say, I am not alone." 

  Stacy Thowe