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Be A Writer Like Kaile Shilling

Here's another in my periodic series of archived interviews I did for our books, Be a Writer & Be a Better Writer (An updated second edition is out now.Catch up on the series here.

I met Kaile Shilling when we were both volunteering for arts organizations in Los Angeles. We were fast friends and she was one of the first people I invited to my writers group. She wears many writing hats, including grant-writing, persuasive writing (read this piece from Los Angeles Magazine), screenwriting and blogging (she's a a contributor to The Huffington Post). Kaile is coalition director at the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles.

Be a Writer Like Kaile Shilling

1. What kind of writer are you?

I'm not as disciplined a writer as I'd like to be.  Maybe that makes me a lazy writer.  Most of my writing is spec screenplays, which is challenging, as there is no deadline, and only the hope that someone will be interested in it at the end.  So perhaps I'm an eternally optimistic writer.  Professionally, I write grants for a nonprofit, which keeps the writing muscles in shape, as grant writing is really a form of storytelling about the organization and the work being done.

2. Why do you write?

I love words.  I love the power of words, the impact they can have, the beauty of finding precisely the right combination of words.  I love writing also because there is a necessary gap between the writer and the reader -- the reader fills in the spaces with his/her imagination, so the experience of having read something is a collaborative one, a joint journey, and is uniquely personal for each reader.  Probably also why I love film, and love writing for film, is that is is a necessarily collaborative art form.

3. What made you want to be a writer?

Reading great books and great essays and great plays made me want to write.  Having spent afternoons in my room unable to put down a book, acting in plays where I reveled in the spoken word, and spending time dissecting all of the above to unravel and explore the different levels of meaning, the metaphors, the symbols, the imagery -- all thsoe things that can get packed into even the simplest writing.  Plus, there's something eternal about the captured word, and I think deep down all of us want to touch a part of that sense of eternity.

4. What advice would you give to a fellow writer?

Write, write, write, write, write.  Write bad stuff, write terrible stuff, write sloppy stuff, just write it.  The hardest part of writing is the writing.  Once it's out, editing and improving is the easy part.  Get something on the page, and get yourself used to writing.

open-minded and open for business. orange county, n.c.

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