Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Interview with Dallas Woodburn, author and founder of Write On! For Literacy - Part 1
I am pleased to welcome Dallas Wooburn to Reviews and Interview. Dallas is a prolific writer and is founder of a non-profit called Write On! For Literacy which she started in her teens.
She recently won a contest through Glamour Magazine for women who give to others.
She visited Glamour headquarters in New York City as part of a prize she won for her work with Write On! For Literacy for a make-over and photo-shoot! (This picture is from that photo shoot.)
This is the first of 3 parts as a way to introduce the readers of Reviews and Interviews to this inspiring woman.
Dallas, thank you for visiting Reviews and Interviews.
Please tell us a little bit about your background.
I am the author of two short story collections and a forthcoming novel, represented by Foundry Literary + Media in New York City.
I have written more than 80 articles for publications including Family Circle, Writer’s Digest, The Writer, CO-ED, Motherwords, Health & Home, and The Los Angeles Times. I am also a staff writer for the Web sites GradtoGreat.com and TweenParent.com.
My short fiction has been published in the literary journals Cicada, Monkeybicycle, Palaver, flashquake, and The Hudson Valley Literary Magazine.
How long have you been writing?
It’s funny, but looking back it’s difficult for me to remember a time before I loved to write! I learned to read when I was four years old, and I gobbled up books. Like many kids, I made up stories; I was compelled to write my stories down. I think this was largely due to the fact that my dad is a writer. Every night, my parents would read me bedtime stories, and every morning I would come downstairs and see my dad writing. As a result, I was very aware that someone had written the books I so loved to read. And I decided that I wanted to be someone who writes books for other people to enjoy.
What started you writing for publication?
I published my first book, There’s a Huge Pimple on My Nose, when I was in fifth grade. Pimple is proof that with a lot of hard work, a lot of perseverance – and, yes, a lot of support, too – a small idea can snowball into something bigger than you ever dreamed.
My snowball began as a snowflake when I applied for and received a $50 grant from my elementary school to write, publish and sell a collection of my short stories and poems -- but I think here's what set my proposal apart: I would use the profits to repay my grant, so the school could offer an extra one the following year.
My first printing, done at a Kinkos copy shop, was modest: twenty-five staple-bound forty-page books. Actually, they were more like thick pamphlets, but no matter – to me, they were books, my books, the most beautiful books I had ever laid eyes upon.
My fellow students and teachers, bless them, acted as if Pimple was at the top of the New York Times Best-Seller List. The first twenty-five copies sold in a couple of days. Can you imagine what a turbo-boost this was to a fifth-grader’s self-esteem? I was pursuing my dream, but I wasn’t pursuing it alone – my family and friends and teachers were right there with me.
So I went back to Kinkos, ordered twenty-five more books – and soon sold all those as well. After three more trips to Kinkos, where the workers now knew me by name, I searched out a publishing business and ordered a few hundred glossy-covered, glue-bound, professional-looking Pimples. My little forty-page dream evolved from a snowball into a blizzard, with newspaper and radio interviews; appearances at literacy events all around California; even a “Dallas Woodburn Day” at the Santa Barbara Book Fair. I still have to pinch myself, but Pimple has sold more than 2,200 copies and I repaid two school grants.
That's such an inspirational story for all writers, but especially young writers.
Yes. Looking back, I was fortunate to dive into this career at such an early age because I wasn't afraid or self-conscious about my writing. I think as we get older, we tend to lose that child-like pride and confidence in ourselves and our work. I published my first book when I was in fifth grade. I wasn't afraid of rejection, so I sent my book out to anyone and everyone I thought might read it.
I didn't hear back from a lot of them. But I did score reviews in The Los Angeles Times, Girls' Life Magazine, Cosmo Girl Magazine, and others. Many terrific doors were opened for me because I wasn't afraid to hear the word "no."
Thank you for the introduction. How can people learn more about you?
My website is www.writeonbooks.org and I frequently update my blog with writing tips and announcements: http://dallaswoodburn.blogspot.com.
Next month, June 23, we'll have you talk about your non-profit, Write On! For Literacy.