Interview with Laura Janis Thompson, Q1 2017 Creative Nonfiction Contest Runner Up

Sunday, April 01, 2018
Laura Thompson is a lifelong learner, writer, and copious consumer of cupcakes. She writes about travel, food, her obsession with food, education, and whatever other random thoughts that collide in her stream of consciousness.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Laura is addicted to sunshine and lives near the ocean in Tequesta, Florida with her daughter, husband, and Australian Shepherd, Piper. She is a writing coach, an academic editor, and is currently at work on a book about college admissions. Her future goal is to teach writing at the college level. Her passion for traveling the world is only second to her passion for writing.

Laura is currently in training for her first half marathon—only half crazy—and blogs at Pages and Stories.

Please connect with her at:
Pages and Stories:
Instagram: @laura_is_writing

----------Interview by Renee Roberson

WOW: "Straight Lines" is a well-crafted essay that shares a regret many of us have--putting off pursuing our passions for various reasons or another. It mixes humor along with a frank dose of reality. Could you share a little about what it was like writing this piece and how you knew it was complete?

Laura: Regrets are a terrible thing, but writing, as always, is cathartic. Sometimes we think we embellish a situation, but when we read the facts as we have written them, we are able to face the circumstances rather than constantly question, “What if?” and “Did that really happen the way I remember?” I wish I could share when I knew this piece was finished. My other life as an editor and tutor dictates that I constantly revise and edit. In fact, I’ve had to forbid myself from rereading my own blog posts as I found I would continually change them, i.e., I’m never satisfied!

WOW: Ah, a perfectionist! I know a few writers like that . . .  ha ha! Your blog post "How Not to Be a Writer" had me in stitches because I could relate to it so much! How would you recommend one gets past some of those obstacles, such as spending two hours on the phone with IRS and then some? Have any of these tips worked for you?

Laura: Yes, I have learned to compartmentalize my days. I assign different tasks/chores to certain hours of the day. I try to finish my writing and editing as the first order of business. That way, should something go awry, and I’m on the phone for two hours instead of the allotted ten minutes, an entire day’s productivity is not lost.

WOW: Great advice! Your website says you currently work at a local state college, assisting students with writing and grammar skills, as well as offering consultations with graduate students and college admissions essays. How did you land in the field of education and what drew you to use your writing and editing talents there?

Laura: Not everyone is good at writing. When I say that, I’m referring to those who struggle to even string a sentence together. For example, some students may be brilliant and have many amazing skills, but writing is not one of them. Writing is as difficult for them as math with letters is for me. Teaching them the structural components of a sentence and the mechanical process of writing appeals to the left side of their brain thus making writing more relatable. Grammatical writing is achievable for everyone, and sharing this knowledge, and seeing how quickly they “get it” is the best part of my job.

WOW: I'm sure that has to be very rewarding. One of your current projects is working on a book about college admissions. What advice would you give a student getting ready to embark on their own college admissions journey?

Laura: Selecting a college has become a serious business decision. My advice would be to choose your school according to your career interest and what kind of return you will receive on that investment, not simply because you like the school. Know what the starting salary is for the career field you are interested in pursuing. Research, research, research. Many of you won’t know what you want to do for the rest of your life at the age of eighteen and that’s okay, too. Try not to stress about it. Try new things. Volunteer in career areas in which you might be interested in such as law, medical, or environmental science. Check out your local community college especially if you haven’t chosen a specific major. Taking classes there will save you a tremendous amount of money and give you time to get to know yourself a bit better. Don’t blindly spend your or your parents’ money if you don’t have a major in mind as yet. If you do have a course of study you’re interested in, don’t just assume a state college is your best bet. Good and sometimes even average grades can mean scholarships and opportunities at great out-of-state schools.

WOW: Very solid advice that I will pass right on to my daughter, so thank you! You also have a bit of wanderlust and have traveled to some exciting places! What are your three favorite places you traveled to and why?

Laura: Oh my goodness, that’s going to be difficult since it seems to change every time I travel. Right now, I would say Greece is at the top of my list. During a four day tour of Greece, we spent an entire day traveling around the island of Mykonos. The city center is incredibly busy and touristy, but the rest of the island is simply breathtaking and peaceful. A friend described it best. She said, “Y’know the pictures posted of the Greek Islands, the ones with the blue roofs, blue seas, and blue skies that hardly seem real? That’s exactly what it looks like.” For me, it was even better. I didn’t want to leave. Savoca, Italy and Cork, Ireland are two more, and Aix-en-Provence, France has part of my heart. There, I gave you four. I did warn you I was bad at math! ☺

WOW: Well, when you've been to that many exciting places it's understandable! Congratulations and thank you for sharing your passions with us. Keep up the great work!


Angela Mackintosh said...

Great interview, ladies!

Laura ~ I loved your essay. It's so creative and I totally relate!

I'm a perfectionist, too, and believe my work can always be revised. One of your fellow essay contest winners, Jackie Pick, said, "I'm of the camp that believes that writing is never finished, it is only surrendered."

Greece sounds wonderful. There was a writing retreat there a couple years ago that I missed and I've been looking for one there ever since.

Good luck on your writing, and we hope to read more of your work! I'm going to check out your blog. :)

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