Glennys’s top tip for aspiring authors: While it’s nice, and helps, to be professionally published and win awards, there are plenty of books out there that haven’t been, and yet they’ve gone on to make a huge impact on people’s lives. It’s more important to just enjoy the process of writing regardless of the outcome, and if your writing has an impact on you, chances are it will impact others too. So grab a coffee, a packet of Tim Tams, open a Word document and just start typing. Then rinse and repeat. And when doubt creeps in, as it will, seek out other writers for support.
It’s my great pleasure today to introduce the inspirational Glennys Marsdon, owner of consumer psychology consultancy The Customers’ Voice, who has more than 20 years’ experience researching human behaviour. This has resulted in marketing campaigns for clients like HBF and ECU, plus investigation into social issues including domestic violence and drug/alcohol abuse. In 2012 she was nominated for the Telstra Business Women’s Awards and she now sits on several Boards. Her writing life began in the ‘90s as editor of the Australian Red Cross Youth News Magazine. Her first short story won the Stirling Literary Award and her first book, 50 Ways To Grieve Your Lover, received international success after being used in the NZ Pike Mine Disaster. The book also resulted in her being profiled in marketing guru Seth Godin’s worldwide search for people making a difference. Her second book Me Time: 100 Strategies For Guilt Free Me Time won a People’s Choice Award and her blog The Ponder Room was read in more than 60 countries within the first six months. She has a monthly column in a local magazine, regularly writes for the City of Perth and contributes to a number of other outlets. Two years ago she started Personal Branding workshops which apply her business knowledge to uncovering the essence of a person’s brand.
Why do you write? For the past 20 years I’ve been writing business reports on anything from ice cream to domestic violence and sewerage pumps. Apart from helping bring new products to market, or ads to the television, the main reason for writing these reports was to ensure my pantry was never bereft of tins of tuna. In the fast paced consulting world, it wasn’t uncommon to have 12 large projects on the go at the same time. In the past as the deadlines accumulated my mind would escape into silly stories which I used to email off to a handful of colleagues who were also working through the night. The stories worked as a kind of release valve from all the heavy thinking. Years on, the advent of blogging has proved an ideal portal for my chattering monkey mind. I love getting caught up in the rhythm of the words and the surprise journeys they take me on, especially when they reward me with a giggle at the end.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? At five foot five and with a middle age spread I guess modelling is out of the question. My genetic composition also rules out artist, musician or sports star and, thanks to an aversion to embarrassment, acting. The ability to feel seasick in the bath limits any water based activities, and the bombardment of ideas constantly penetrating my brain renders mindful Yogi unlikely. Since I draw the line at academia, I guess that leaves me with the corporate world, and spending more time on my consumer psychology work, which brings me back to research and business writing … doh! So short answer, no idea.
What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? A deep lack of confidence, (spawned out of a high school teacher declaring that I couldn’t read, and a university professor saying I couldn’t write), that made pushing the send button unbearable. That was until I stumbled upon an editor prepared to take a chance. So confidence and the ability to get your work seen.
How involved have you been in the development of your book? Did you have input into the cover/illustrations? My first book was in part a tribute to my artist partner Michael Collins who passed away, so it was important to keep control over how his images were used. As a result, I chose to go down the self-publishing route, which also allowed me to avoid the soul destroying pile of rejection letters. I thoroughly enjoyed the process, and learnt a lot about what goes on behind the scenes, so have continued to self-publish.
What’s the best aspect of your writing life? For fiction it’s about getting lost in the rhythm of the words and being entertained by where they take you. For non-fiction it’s realising that a few squiggles on a blank page can have immense power. They can even help people get through the most difficult of times.
—the worst? The perception, among some, that writers can sustain a life when writing or speaking for free; they wouldn’t expect the same from their plumber. That and the endless but necessary editing.
What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Read more. Reading teaches you all the essentials, like character, structure, language, tone, setting and more importantly how your writing compares to those who get published. I’d also get out from behind the computer more and meet other writers earlier on in the journey. Trying to work it out yourself is exhausting, especially when there are writing groups out there that teach you the craft, show that you’re not alone, and that published authors aren’t any different to you, although I suspect they eat less tuna.
What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Don’t worry about what people think, not everyone will like what you write, some might hate it, and you only need a few loyal readers to start you on your way.
What’s the best advice you were ever given? When the first editor who paid me for my writing retired, I told her that I’d enjoyed working with her and would like to get similar work with other editors, but was too scared to approach them. She pointed out that I’d managed to contact her and added, ‘I wasn’t scary, most of the time.’
‘For three days after death, hair and fingernails continue to grow but phone calls taper off.’ Johnny Carson.
After the loss of a loved one, be it the death of a partner, child, pet, or divorce, people experience a 12 month fog, not knowing what to expect. This is not helped by the fact that as a society we avoid talking about death. At 43 Glennys Marsdon suddenly found she was a widow. As a qualified psychologist she drew on more than two decades of experience researching human behaviour to investigate what was ahead of her. A year later when a good friend asked for advice she fired off an email titled ’10 Things I’ve Learnt’. The 10 things grew to 50 and when more people called for advice she realised the emails had to be shared. Written as a series of 50 short light-hearted emails to a friend, the book focuses on the first 12 months after loss. It contains 100 tips, 85 quotes and cartoons from her partner Michael Collins (dec.)
Other books include: Me Time: 100 Strategies For Guilt Free Me Time; Freelance Life: An Action Plan To Become a Successful Six Figure Freelancer; Pondering Life Series
The books are available from www.glennysmarsdon.com
The 50 Ways E book version can be purchased on Amazon