This week on the Writer’s Way podcast, guest Camryn Wells shares her experience of becoming a newly published author, the feelings that the process conjures up, and valuable wisdom for aspiring authors everywhere!
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Laurie: Hello writers, welcome back to the Writer’s Way Podcast. I’m so excited today to introduce you to almost soon to be newly published author Cameron Wells! Woo!
Camryn: Yeah I love it!
Laurie: Now I’ll be calmer. So excited to have you here. Thank you for doing it for me.
Camryn: Thank you for inviting me.
A Little Bit About Camryn
Laurie: You’re welcome. Let’s start off with tell people a little bit about who you are. And then we will segue into how the book idea formed.
Camryn: We can do that. So I am Camryn Wells, I am born and raised in Houston. I still reside here and I have two children, two Littles. I feel like that’s the next thing that comes when you ask about yourself and you’re parents. The children – they’re pretty priority.
Laurie: Still diapers involved?
Camryn: Still diapers. So I have a 15 month old daughter and a three and a half year old son.
Laurie: So …
Camryn: I have Littles.
Laurie: So close together: respect. Yeah. Yeah.
Camryn: Yeah and I’m married. My husband’s name is Adam and I am here. I have a huge family here.
Laurie: Yes one like one in every sector.
Camryn: Pretty much.
Laurie: I have a cousin who does that…
Camryn: I know yeah, that’s yeah, we can get into that. But that’s definitely, yeah… I have people.
The Multi-talented Camryn Wells
Laurie: People. What did you do before you mom’d?
Camryn: So I’m actually still doing it. I’ve worked in non-profit for about 18,19 years and various roles. I started with a nonprofit organization that did K through 12 programs, tutorials, and after school programs – was their Major Market. So I was a staff and when I left there I was a director. I went through that and then my next nonprofit was in Healthcare.
And then I went into another nonprofit that worked with under-served youth and got them into Fortune 500 internships. Currently I am a remote grant writer for a nonprofit that has over a hundred different branches. And so I work for two of them: one in Houston and one in Northern California.
Laurie: Oh my gosh, how much time does that take? Like, how do you have time?
Camryn: I, you know, I mean it, it fills up.
Laurie: Yeah, like are you sleeping through the night with the kids?
Camryn: So what’s funny is I usually get my work done at early hours. So between like 3:00 and 6:00 or 7:00 a.m. Or after they go to bed, but by then I’m usually just I’m done. So yeah, really early hours.
Laurie: Okay. See you just survive on not that much sleep so far.
Camryn: Lots of coffee.
Laurie: Yay for coffee!
The Story Behind the Book
Laurie: Okay, did the book idea come from this work with youth or more from your children?
Camryn: Definitely from my children. I don’t know where – I would say the backstory would be when my son transitioned out of his crib into his big-boy bed. I put him down for a nap one day and I went to the kitchen and I hear Mommy Mommy Mommy and I was like is ‘he in the hallway?’ Because his voice got louder, as I walk out into the hallway and he’s standing there and he’s like “no nap time”.
I was like, okay. I put him back in his crib and I said, “but you can’t jump out of your crib, it’s safety.” Right there in front of me, he just proudly pops himself out and he goes “no nap time”. Cool.
Laurie: So we’re doing this then.
Camryn: Yeah, let’s adjust. Fast forward – he transitions pretty easily – that was his hardest transition. And through that I notice these these big emotions in this tiny little person and I had to give him tools.
I saw him feeling things that he hadn’t felt before like fear, abandonment, I mean, these are adult words using them, but that’s really…you could see that’s what he was feeling.So I taught him mantras. The three mantras that we still say this is, a year ago, but we still say every night at bed, “I am strong. I am safe. I am loved.” It took about a month, but that just calmed him down and he would say it to himself until he went to sleep. And so fast forward after he was fine. I had a few moms who would say “yeah, John or Mark or whatever is going through that”.
The Efficacy of Mantras
Camryn: I’m like “you should try mantras, just give it a shot” and they would try it and a week or two later they’d be like “Cameron. Oh my gosh. I tried the Mantra so good and we tap into his emotions. And you know, I really just talked to him”. And so it became this thing that I realized that it wasn’t just in my household. Like parents, we need to know these tools and we need to know how to talk to our kids about emotions because they’re going to have them whether we’re ready or not. Right? And so that’s where the book came from. I just wanted to make sure that people had tools, the association with color, children know colors and I don’t think it’s a secret.
I’m not a psychologist, but I think that there are emotional connections to colors. So that’s where the the color and emotions came in and then the overall picture is that I’m a spoken word artist. And so I wanted to use poetry as the vehicle to tell that story.
What Color is Your Day?
Laurie: And it’s beautiful. So your book is called…
Camryn: My book is called What Color is Your Day?
Laurie: Right and give us an example of … Can you off the top of your head?
Camryn: It would start as what color is your day, my love? Is it blue, is it green or gray? Explore the shades and hues you feel when you laugh or cry or play. Are you blue like a wilted flower that’s waiting on the sun? Or does blue just make you calmly reflect on everything you’ve done?
Laurie: You’re doing it to me again, pause the recording while Laurie cries…. Oh, I love it. So I picture, you want a stage with like the video of the book behind you. You can tell me “Laurie I said the poem with the video behind me”.
Camryn: That’s what I’m hoping actually, that is how I’m hoping it comes together, where I can just perform the piece and that the book behind me flips through on pages or whatever. Yeah.
Laurie: So exciting. When is the book coming out?
Camryn: So I think our timeline is end of September?
Laurie: Okay, so soon. So right now we’re recording this mid September, September 13th 2019. So soon.
What kinds of emotions have you experienced during this process?
Laurie: Share with me some of the feelings you shared with me like before, during and after if you can.
Camryn: Wow, so this is interesting because as I am kind of prepping some of my presentations that I’ll be doing at schools and in the community. I decided that the presentation would focus on the emotional journey behind this book.
I thought it was quite fitting right? And there’s a whirlwind of them. I think you know. I’ve been, I say this humbly, but I’ve always been told that this is like a gift or a Talent. Right? And I think this is the first time in my life that I’m actually seeing that. This is the first time that I’m finding my passion paired with work, if you will, because it’s work, right?
And just seeing the love that can go into that and it’s just amazing and it feels, I mean, it’s cozy. I love it. So there’s a lot of pride in the work my creative side is like… I don’t know if I’ve ever been this creative in my life all at one time and so many different directions.
Laurie: Okay, because creative I knew like when it comes to illustration input, but creative like you’ve been creative with your poetry.
The Angst that Comes with Being Vulnerable
Camryn: I’ve been creative with my poetry but it’s like being creative with the words has opened and seeing these illustrations has opened, visually how I see my words on paper. I didn’t even realize that I would have not even I care, for lack of better phrasing, but that would be something that I would find interest in or have input in. I’m so detailed and focused on it and it just feels good, and it’s like the other thing is I am very confident in my decisions. So what’s here and what’s coming out here, I’m seeing it and it’s coming together. And I know when it’s right and I know when I’ve hit it, and I think that’s where a lot of confidence coming in. I see it all tying together. There’s a lot of angst.
It’s like I’m a very, I think a lot of creatives would say this, but I’m a pretty private person, so you’re putting a book out there. It’s like cool, let’s open the floodgates.
Laurie: Oh, yeah, you feel so vulnerable.
Camryn: It’s so much vulnerability, you know and part of that. It just is what it is because I’m choosing to focus on the positive that may come from it.
Laurie: Wait, that may come from it, there WILL, definitely…
Camryn: Thank you. I mean, I think it’ll help a lot of people, I think there’s a lot of children that need it, a lot of adults that need it, families. So I think that it will touch the people that it needs touch.
The Significance and Beauty of Colors
Laurie: Well and I’ve had the privilege of reading your book and so what’s interesting is things like red it isn’t necessarily anger. Like even my four-year-old says – forget what I was – I think I was kind of, you know doing the ‘what color are you feeling’?
Just trying to see how – you would think that it was he said? Oh, I know what it was! They came home talking about the zones of regulations. So do you have that in his Houston? Hooston I almost called it. Do you have the zones of Regulation?
Laurie: And your kids aren’t in school yet. So in our school board, anyway, they’re doing these zones of regulation and it’s pretty common in Canada. I don’t know about anywhere else. I forget what yellow is. Green is green is good, green is where you want to be. Red is like angry and out of control. Blue is slightly tired, lethargic, and yellow I don’t remember.
Camryn: This is in the classroom?
Laurie: Yeah, so it’s a system and all the stuff that somebody came up with somewhere. I’m sure they are psychologists and then schools have incorporated it. So the kids came home talking about “I felt really green today” and it made me giggle because I thought of you and I was like “oh and what does that mean?” And then my eleven-year-old piped up to my seven-year-old. “He’s like you didn’t feel green when I stole your scooter”. But it was a very interesting conversation and then the four-year-old and I were talking later and he said “I felt red when” I don’t know…or something
Colors Have Multiple Meanings!
Laurie: But in your book, it’s not these typical sort of red equals angry colors, which I love because we shouldn’t have that. It’s like the whole pink isn’t for boys, like we shouldn’t have one color meaning one thing. So I love that you say red is youthful.
Camryn: A youthful color, it’s exciting and bold too. It is powerful and loving. It’s a true reflection of you. Right? And I think that you’re absolutely right. that’s why I do ask my son. I say when we start the day “so, Monroe, what color is your day?” He’ll say, this morning I think he named like four different colors.
Laurie: Like he’s not necessarily attributing a color to an emotion or a feeling, he’s talking about it in a way that he can represent it. Sometimes blue can mean a lot of different things throughout the day.
Camryn: Yeah. It can change day to day. Okay, so you might wake up feeling blue because he’s excited and happy but he might go to go to bed feeling blue because he’s tired or lonely or whatever it is.
Laurie: And it’s just a way to communicate about it… I love it!
Camryn: Yeah. Sometimes we also flip that question because you know, sometimes I’ll say “What are you feeling Monroe?” And he’ll say “I’m feeling happy” and then I’ll say “awesome. What color does happy? What color do you think of when you think of happy? And he’ll say pink or you know lime green or whatever it is, you know and cool.
I Sound Like My Mom!
Camryn: Yeah. That’s what he … oh my God. Okay. So side note, my mom. Always she does this voice for me. And I’m always like “Mom why do you do that voice for me?” And she pointed out to me that I do my son’s voice and she was like, “that’s why I do your voice. It’s because when you were a little girl, you would have this little like ‘I can do it. It’s no problem’ in it” and she’s like, “that’s what you do with Monroe”. You’ll be like “right Mom. I can do it.” It seems like that’s the voice. So
Laurie: That’s cute. I think we all do that a little bit. I don’t know that I’ll still do it when my child is an adult. But probably. What’s that?
Camryn: You’ll be aware of it…
Laurie: I’ll be aware of it. Well. Yeah. My own mom comes out my mouth.
Camryn: Was oh, yeah for sure is your…
Laurie: Does your mom come out your mouth?
Camryn: All the time all the time. I have to look at my husband and I like shoot him the look and I’m like don’t you suggest, don’t you do it!
Laurie: Don’t call me Nancy!
Camryn: Yeah [laughing]
Laurie: Like those are fighting words. Just back off.
Camryn: That’s so funny!
Parting Words of Wisdom
Laurie: Okay, so excited. Do you have any sort of parting words of wisdom? So you’re in the process, you’re not quite published but like within the next week to two. For somebody watching who’s maybe like “should I, shouldn’t I? The creative angst might be too strong for me. So should I shouldn’t I move forward?” Do you have any thoughts for people in that state?
Move Forward, Be Open to the Process, and Be True to Yourself!
Camryn: I do and my thought is absolutely move forward! My thought is get the process started and sometimes you don’t even know what that means. To use myself as an example. I did not know what that meant. I just knew I had an idea that could be something and so I just started looking up authors that could possibly maybe, be in that genre. And I came across one and I reached out to her on social media and you… It was totally you!
It happens that quickly and you were receptive and you know, it’s like that’s how nobody could tell you. That’s not how the process goes, right? Yeah. And so I was just 100% open and every step of the way I was open. So I think being open to just creative ways to make your dream come true. I really think it’ll happen and I think also just staying focused, carving off that time every day to just work on your craft. Right? I mean, it’s like a muscle right? If you don’t work on it, it’s going to go to the wayside and so just…
Laurie: It’s so true.
Find Joy in the Process!
Camryn: It’s so true. So taking that time and just really working on it, finding the joy, I think it’s so important. Everything isn’t always sunshine and rainbows and so on those days where it’s not, I made sure to… Like for example, if I was having trouble writing something or editing a certain part and I was having writer’s block or whatever, I went back and I read.
I reminded myself how capable I am and I read things from long ago and I just remind myself how long I’ve been doing this and how this is just who I am. So I’m not trying to have anyone else’s voice. I’m doing what works for me, and people say it all the time, but I think I’m living, I’m a living testament of just being true to yourself. I think this book is my voice. I think this book is me as a mom and as a woman and as a friend. That’s my advice just stay true and forward.
Laurie: Okay, so I’m just going to repeat what you said twice because you said such good stuff.
So one be open to the process. However, that might come because it’s not how so many people think anymore. It’s not write a story, get an agent, shop it around to publishers. It doesn’t have to be that way anymore. That’s probably the path of most resistance.
Laurie: It doesn’t have to be like that and then consistency.
So often, there is ups and downs, there is angst, there’s highs and lows and so many people just let it go for weeks for months and then they question ‘why am I not successful?’ It’s so important at every stage of the game to stay consistent and I love the ‘find your joy.’ Because definitely on those low days…
Laurie: …joy can be hard to find so thank you. Those are very wise words.
Camryn: Thank you.
Laurie: You’re welcome. Let’s have you back on in like six months. I love it. Okay, and then we’ll see how things are going. I love it.
Where You Can Find Camryn Wells
Laurie: Okay also tell people where to find you.
Camryn: Oh, so yeah, absolutely. My website is www.camrynwells.com, I’m also on Facebook at Color Play Feel Series, and Instagram Cameron Wells author and Twitter Cameron Wells.
Laurie: Excellent. Thank you, and we’ll put all of those in the show notes, so anybody who wants to find you can track you down a little bit more easily.
Laurie: Thank you. Thank you my dear for coming on with me. I so appreciate it.
Camryn: Thank you so much.
Laurie: Talk to you in six months.
Camryn: All right.
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