This week we’re meeting Rachel Hamm. I met Rachel online through The Next Big Writer. She was one of the first people to review my novel and I was happy to reciprocate. She’s a terrific writer with a crazy real life. Still, she marches on and the world wouldn’t be the same if she didn’t.
Tell us a little about yourself?
There’s not much to tell there. I’m twenty-five years old, the second of four children. My parents are from the north, but I was raised in the south. I’ve had a lot of dreams, but none that have really been fulfilled.
What dreams, other than writing, are you still pursuing?
My other dreams have kind of fallen to the wayside. I’m trying to keep my head above water right now. Once I reach the shore, I’ll start dreaming again.
Tell us a little about your current WIP? Where did the idea come from?
I have two books that I’m actively working on, Twenty-Five and The Death Effect. Twenty-Five is complete and has been heavily edited, whereas I’m still writing The Death Effect. The idea for Twenty-Five really was to write my life how I wish it were. It’s the love story I want for myself. The Death Effect, well, I’m not really sure where the idea came from. I was working on a different project for NANO and it wasn’t going well, then one night, this girl just popped into my head. Her death. And I thought about how I’ve never really been effected by death. I wondered who would be effected by this girl’s death. And the next day I started writing TDE.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of Twenty-five? How long before you considered it complete?
I started writing Twenty-Five on March 1, 2009. I finished the first first draft at the beginning of April. But then after workshopping it for a little bit on TNBW, I was convinced by readers that the ending wasn’t the ending, so I wrote another 30K words and finished the second first draft before my own 25th birthday, June 19th. I think I finished it a few days before. I considered the idea of it complete then, but then after another round of reviews, I did a major rewrite for the second draft, which I completed at the end of October. Since that draft, I’ve just been polishing. So I guess, complete complete, I’d date November 1st.
Are you working on any other projects concurrently? Or is there a next project in mind?
I have a bunch of projects on the sidelines. I’ve written the beginning of five other novels besides the two discussed above, and I have two other ideas that I’ve outlined slightly. There’s always a next project on my mind, which makes it hard to finish the ones I’m working on!
Do you have any particular methods to your writing process that you’d like to share?
I like to write my first drafts by hand and I like to write whatever scenes come into my head whenever they come into my head, regardless of where they fall chronologically in the story.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Why do you write?
I’ve always loved to read and I think I’ve always wished that I could write. I journaled constantly throughout adolescence and wrote a lot of poetry, but never thought seriously about actually being a writer. I attempted to write a book several years ago, but lost interest in it. I don’t know why. Then last March, I felt like I had no control left in the world and something compelled me to pick up a pen and write about my feelings. The next day, I started writing Twenty-Five. To be completely honest, I had just finished reading the Twilight series. I think I became obsessed with how Stephenie Meyer envisioned this world and these characters and then she actually created it. I thought, I can do that. Meyer isn’t the greatest writer, but she held me captivated through four books. I thought if she could hold me captivated, maybe I could do the same for someone else.
What’s the first book you remember reading?
My mom taught me how to read with Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs & Ham. But the book I really remember reading as a child was Matilda. I read that book over and over and over.
What was so special about Matilda that kept you coming back?
I think I related to her. Or I wanted to relate to her. I liked to think that I was incredibly intelligent, like she was. I liked to read and she loved to read, I thought we were kindred spirits. And I got lost in the story. Roald Dahl just knows how to write so that you feel like you are watching what’s happening.
Have any specific authors inspired you?
Jane Austen! I am obsessed with her! When I started writing Twenty-Five, I wanted to write a book that would inspire the same kind of feelings in others that Jane Austen’s work inspired in me. I love that she creates very real characters who lived in the real world. There were no life and death moments–just regular life, yet, every moment, every feeling made me want to turn the page. I’ve read Pride and Prejudice at least twenty times, and each of her other books several times as well. She’s an absolute genius.
On your blog, you sometimes post entries about doubts you have. What’s something you do to help overcome those fears?
I’m still working on overcoming the doubts and fears I have. I constantly think that my writing is crap and can’t believe I’m trying to be a writer in today’s market. I think the best you can do is find a community of support. If I hadn’t found other writers, I never would have had the courage to let anyone else read my book.
You also write a lot of posts showing how excited and hopeful you are. How do you stay so positive walking this crazy writer’s path?
I think those posts were flukes! haha. It is sooo hard to be positive sometimes. I think most of the time I’m not. But every once and a while, I’ll read something I’ve written, and I’ll connect to it. Sometimes I think, “Wow, I can’t believe I wrote that.” And that’s what keeps me writing, even after I read something that makes me think, “Ugh, I can’t believe I wrote that.”
Who has been your biggest supporter in your writing?
Writing is a private thing for me, I don’t really share it with the people in my real life. My online friends have been my biggest supporters.
List three fun facts about yourself
These kind of questions are always so hard!
1) I have asymmetrical toes.
2) I truly, truly believe that you cannot be in love with someone unless they love you in return.
3) I think of writing as my fourth job (yes- I have 3 real ones!)
How on earth do you find time to write with three real jobs!? Do you sleep!?
Haha. Well, one of the jobs doesn’t require a ton of my time. I house/pet sit for a couple, so I feed their cats in the morning and at night and play with them, etc, and get paid for it. The other two jobs do require a good amount of time, but most of my friends live far away, so my free time isn’t really spent socializing! It’s spent writing! I do sleep, though probably not as much as I should.
What’s one thing you wish you had known when you started writing?
That it is painful. I mean truly painful. When someone reads my work and doesn’t like it, it’s like they’ve run over my heart. I never really expected anyone to read my book when I started writing it. I never planned on showing it to anyone. So when I started showing it to people, the criticism was really hard to take. Everyone tells you to grow a thick skin, blah blah blah, but that’s a hell of a lot easier said than done.
What’s one question that you wish I had asked? Answer?
Q: How much of what you write is “what you know?”
A: About 50%. My main female characters tend to be based on myself or people I know very well. My main male characters tend to be based on how I wish guys would be. And the places and events definitely come from life experiences or the life experiences I’ve always wanted. Does that make sense?