More than 30,000 people on the goal setting site 43things have aspirations to ďwrite a book.Ē This month is National Novel Writing Month, so I thought Iíd talk to an author who made their dream a reality. Over the summer I stumbled upon Brooklyn based writer Shykia Bellís blog and was intrigued by her insight into the writing life. She writes about the joys and the inevitable sorrows of being a published author. One of her goals is to inspire others to pursue their dreams.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Shykia studied Communication Design at New York City Technical College while working full-time. Later she worked for an outdoor media company, then an international law firm.
With the help and support of her husband, Max, while on a sabbatical Shykia rediscovered the love of writing she had as a child. Her first book Camileon was self-published in 2008 and Camileon: Beyond the Veil in 2011
BELLA: On a scale from one to ten, how scary is it to put your work out there for the public to see?
SHYKIA: Some days the fear ranks at a five, others itís about a six or seven. Yet, the prospect of not having my work seen at all ranks at a ten. Many writers say this, but everything I write comes from a very deep place. I always endeavor to write with the utmost sincerity, something that comes with a sense of vulnerability since it means showcasing a wide variety of emotions and trials that make up the human experience. Itís often a very taxing process and in the end, when the writer sends their work out into the world, they essentially leave themselves open to judgment and rejection. Such a prospect can fill one with paralyzing fear, but the thing that keeps me going is my desire to connect with people who are brave enough to dream and embrace their imagination, and perhaps inspire others to pursue dreams they never thought possible.
BELLA: Where do you find the courage to pursue your dreams?
SHYKIA: Having a wonderful support system certainly helps. I do a great deal on my own, but I canít take all the credit. My husband, parents and a few special friends have helped me build strength to pursue my ambitions. I know not everyone is so lucky to have such support, so I consider myself extremely fortunate to have a circle of positive people who truly believe in me and my abilities.
BELLA: You're an artist and a writer, do you ever feel torn between the two creative outlets?
SHYKIA: There were times when I felt I could only focus on one or the other, but over the years Iíve learned that I could do both. Still, depending on what projects I happen to be working on at the moment, I tend to favor one over the other. Right now, that happens to be writing.
BELLA: What is your process? Do you write every day?
SHYKIA: When Iím in my zone I make it my best interest to write every day, whether itís plotting scenes, working on character profiles or fleshing out my stories. Iíll occasionally hit a drought where Iím unable to write anything at all (Iím presently battling a nasty bout of writerís block). This is usually brought on by external factors (anything from lack of time to unfavorable work conditions), but once the dry spell is over, my creative juices flow with a vengeance.
BELLA: One of your characters--Camile Leon--has a mantra: "Follow your heart, but allow your mind to refine your path." Is this a lesson you've learned in your own life?
SHYKIA: Iíve often heard the phrases ďUse your headĒ and ďTrust your heartĒ. Iíve learned through personal experience that instinct alone isnít enough for survival. Neither is intellect. When the heart and mind work collaboratively, they act as a more effective compass to help us navigate through lifeís turbulence. Camile adopts the mantra as she pursues a mental and spiritual balance. It holds particular significance for a number of reasons; one being that sheís been hurt quite often and seeks healing and direction be it in her romantic life or her inherited obligations. Itís a journey Iím sure everyone can relate to at some point in their lives. The process Camile goes through in order to achieve this balance is quite interesting in that it may require her to make some very difficult sacrifices that can affect the world around her.
BELLA: Is there anything else you'd like to share?
SHYKIA: For some reason, some people assume that my work is that of pure horror when in fact it encompasses a broad cross-section of several subgenres. My work contains elements of thriller, suspense, paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy and a touch of romance. Still, itís not without its dark moments which add contrast to the intricate plot. This makes for some interesting tension between several characters. Even so, the story that unfolds throughout the Camileon saga is one of the human heart, spiritual endurance and empowerment. It takes the reader on a journey that will fill them with wonder and perhaps form connections between themselves and some of the characters and their situations.
There are two books in the series so faróthe most recent, Beyond The Veil took about four years to complete. Iím diligently working on the third installment, which promises to be as muchóif not moreóof an adventure as the existing installments. Camileon and Camileon: Beyond The Veil are available through Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.
BELLA: How can readers contact you?
SHYKIA: I can be contacted through my website at shykiabell.com. I have loads of cool stuff in the pipeline, so feel free to subscribe to my blog. Readers can also explore sample excerpts of my work on my website. Iím also on Facebook and Twitter.