Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ain't No Stopping Us Now (with Author, Red Tash)

Today on No Vacation from Speculation, I have a very special guest. I met her during the Coffin Hop and instantly became enamored of her wit and fantastic writing style. Plus, her cover for "This Brilliant Darkness" is ...well...brilliant! It really caught my eye. I'm going to post the picture below and if you like it, make sure to vote for it in the Goodreads Best Cover Listopia. Also, the author will be giving away an ebook copy of "This Brilliant Darkness" to a random commentor, so make sure to comment!

Without further ado, the incredibly cool Red Tash!!

(Clap, clap, Droogies!!)

Ain’t No Stopping Us Now

I hosted Jessica on my blog this past Writer Wednesday. She did a double-header, writing about branding (http://lesleatash.com/post/12884865883/i-have-no-brand-hey-there-world-im-your-wild) and then sharing an excerpt from Danny Marble and the Application for Non-Scary Things (http://redtash.com/post/12884594109/danny-marble-the-application-for-non-scary-things). She’s recently turned 29, and she did a little looking back over the past ten years, and where her career has taken her. She got me thinking.

Then there was Sara Deurell, who posted in her blog (http://saradeurell.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/a-brief-observation/) :

If you’re not inspired to write, there is nothing more likely to make you start living in a story world than spending a few months in a class where the teacher never stays on topic, especially if the tangents are wholly uninteresting and usually repetitions of previous tangents…

Finally, there was RJ Palmer, who asked me in a recent interview (http://rjpalmer.blogspot.com/2011/11/please-welcome-back-red-tash.html#idc-container) if I would take a do-over, if I had one to take. At the time, I’d answered:


I have regrets, but I forgive myself and I try to do better the next time. I like who I am because of my choices. I am authentically me, in Oprah-speak, and as it turns out, I dig that.

And while this is still true, I have to admit I probably answered that out of habit, because there is one area where I wish I’d had a do-over, after all.

But let me back up. I just had one of those big birthdays, myself, turning 39 in late October. When I look back at the last decade & a half of professional post-collegiate work, I honestly wish I’d just started taking my writing more seriously, sooner.

My folks worked long hours—one in pursuit of mechanical perfection, the other in dogged pursuit of…I don’t know what. Money? No idea. Neither were around much, and neither took the time to speak to me about money, a work ethic, the future…it was all a big mystery to me. I just felt pressured. I was supposed to be something really spectacular, or else I’d failed.

I was a smart kid, creative and eager to please, and school identified me as gifted very early on. I was also a smartass, and after my father died, I recall answering an Algebra test with a lot of answers along the lines of “I don’t give a fuck.” Luckily, the Algebra teacher realized it was a cry for help and I didn’t get in trouble for that. I also slid by when I vandalized the front of the junior high school with Satanic messages, in the middle of the school day. (I let someone else take responsibility for that, and to this day, Shawn Hendrix, I am grateful to you for your sacrifice.)

High school was a different story. I was the cheerleader who also got suspended for fighting, and by mid-year of grade nine I was in all-girls boarding school run by nuns. To this day, I consider that the darkest time of my life. Age 15.

I would change high schools three times, then change universities three times, as well. Who was I? What was I going to be when I grew up? Everyone assumed I’d be a writer, because that was the thing I was best at. It was the thing I consistently delivered. Stories. Copy. Deadline. Lit. Drama. That was me. The story girl.

“Everyone” may have thought that, but the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted a home.

I spent many a night in college--after having worked all day at my full-time job--doodling story notes into journals. When I eventually went to work in public accounting, it was such an exercise in frustration that I took to writing stick-figure comic illustrations of my dire consequences and mailing them randomly to friends from college and my previous job. My cubicle on fire, tax returns set ablaze, me always comically at fault not unlike Gilly on SNL (http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/gilly/945843). At my last accounting gig, I made a zine on the clock and wrote This Brilliant Darkness (http://redtash.com/ThisBrilliantDarkness) on my lunch break. I kept writing, even though my education and career were labeled something else.

I became a successful blogger, not by design, but out of a pure desire to connect. My writing took off and I became a journalist, and a newspaper columnist. A few years ago I made some big changes in my life, and in 2011 I decided it was now or never, for pursuing my fiction. I wasn’t willing to wait anymore.

Now I am 39. I have been a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist. I have been a very popular blogger, whether writing as myself or under more than one username. I have been a well-known podcaster, again as myself or anonymously. I am even a published poet, although I don’t know sometimes whether or not to use that as punchline. My track record in marketing and PR speaks for itself, should one be interested enough in that to listen.

Now I am a novelist, and I’m thinking seriously about what to do next. Where will I be with my writing in ten years? Will I really be pushing 50 when I sit down to do this again?

Now I write not to vent, but to create. I don’t just write for income, or to silence the voices in my mind. My writing serves a great purpose, even if it’s lighter fare. I write for my kids, for my husband, for my naysayers, and you better believe I write for those precious souls who’ve cheered me on, who told me I could do it, who encouraged me and shared in my successes.

If I had a do-over, I’d have found someone who believed in me, early on, until I learned to believe in myself. I wouldn’t have wasted so much time trying to be something I wasn’t. I’d have gone ahead and written books during college and said to hell with the GPA. I’d have written on the walls, I’d have written on my clothes, I’d have written on the skin between my toes. I’d have filled every surface of my world with the words, until I’d found myself within them, among them, saturated—and sated.


HEY, WHERE ARE YOU GOING?! There are still a lot of goodies, and I'm pretty sure you haven't commented yet. ;) Do it! You could win Red Tash's amazing book "This Brilliant Darkness"!!

Rock the Book Trailer: http://redtash.com/post/12648485908
Visit Red's Website: http://RedTash.com
Facebook seems popular with the kids: http://facebook.com/TheRedTash
Twitter. Red's Brevity. Dig it: http://twitter.com/RedTashBooks


  1. Thanks for having me, Jessica! And I will add that in addition to winning a copy of This Brilliant Darkness, readers who comment on your excerpt of Danny Marble & the Application for Non-Scary Things on my site could win a copy of that, too!


  2. Fab interview. Lots of goodies to devour.

  3. Aw I love Red Tash! You're so inspiring you bring tears to my eyes! Tons of hugs to you and to Jessica for being two fabulous writers and kick ass ladies!

    Johanna aka the Manicheans

  4. Wow! What a day! I was just at R.A.'s place, where I learned about Jessica; now I'm at Jessica's place, learning about Red!!
    The good news, Red, about being 39 is now you absolutely have to begin lying about it. It's a rule or something. No? Okay, then the good news is I will always be older than you (42). ;)
    Anyway, thanks for sharing. By the way, I was one of those who snagged a copy of your cover art and am using it as my wallpaper. Seriously.
    You ladies have a great week.


  5. Wow, what a great thing to read this morning as I'm starting my day!

    Such fantastic comment love, I think my head is now bigger than a Macy's Parade balloon!!!

  6. I hit Random.org to pick a winner, and it was Jimmy. Mr. Garcia, you win a copy of TBD, and I hope you like it as much as the cover! ;)