BIW Member Interview
Vicki Kissinger lives in Erie, Pennsylvania with her best friend and husband James, his four cats and her two German Shepherd Dogs. Burned out after working eighteen years as a registered nurse she started a new career as a canine obedience instructor working with pet dogs and problem behaviors. Recently disabled due to severe arthritis and other health issues she has been combining her knowledge of dog behavior and care with her writing and has had canine or training related articles published in local magazines and websites.
Moe: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Vicki Kissinger: I started writing very young. As soon as I started reading I thought it would be fun to make up my own stories and I began to write them down. Looking back I will admit that my first attempts were often my version of stories that I had read. It did not take me long to start finding my own ideas. I discovered early that I am a perfectionist and I would spend hours rewriting the same paragraph over and over so that writing a short story or poem was a long and painful process.
Writing and reading were not considered to be “useful” activities by my mother so I often had to hide what I was doing. Fortunately I had many supportive teachers that appreciated my writing and encouraged me to keep up with my endeavors. I put off my writing for several years while I pursued a career in other areas but my regrets and the very strong urge to write have finally come together so that I am writing seriously now.
Moe: Describe three lessons you have learned about writing?
Vicki Kissinger: The most important lesson that I have learned about writing is that you have to write! Excuses and procrastination do not make you a writer. Writing is learned and improved by writing. The second thing that I have learned is that letting your internal editor run loose while you are writing makes it difficult if not impossible to get any words down on paper. So lock him up tight and ignore him while you get words down on the page. Once the words are down you can take the time to turn your editor loose and let him do his thing. The third thing I have learned is that ideas can be found everywhere and at anytime. I always carry a notebook with me so that I can jot down ideas as they pop into my head, observations of the people and places around me, quotes, etc. I never want to be in the situation of having a great idea and having it fade away before I can get it written down.
Moe: What are you working on now?
Vicki Kissinger: I am working on a few different projects. One is writing a monthly column for “Front and Finish” magazine about training dogs for competition while disabled. Since becoming disabled I have discovered a need to become a strong advocate and protestor for disabled rights with my service dog Kai. My mantra has become, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem”. My experiences have given me a great idea for a mystery novel that is now under construction. I continue to send out queries with article ideas to various magazines. I am also doing research and putting together a proposal for a non-fiction book.
Moe: Do you have a favourite writing related book?
Vicki Kissinger: It is not fair to make me pick only one writing related book! I would have to say that one of my favorites is The Power to Write by Caroline Joy Adams.
Moe: What is your favourite writing website?
Vicki Kissinger: There are so many writing websites that I check out at regular intervals. Of course one of my favorites is the BIW site. If I had to pick a favorite it would probably be the Toasted Cheese website. You can find a monthly calendar of writing prompts, writing contests and a supportive community of other writers.
Moe: Do you have an important BIW tip you’d like to pass along?
Vicki Kissinger: The best thing that BIW has taught me is to get my butt in the chair and write something. I can be the world’s best procrastinator. The discipline of setting a goal and working to achieve it or better it is something I have carried over to the rest of the month. I have a goal set for every day of the week and I set aside time every day to achieve that goal.