Author Cathy T. Colburn on Write-Life Balance
Cathy T. Colborn will be speaking on a panel discussing “write-life balance” as part of Philadelphia Stories’ write-a-thon, taking place at Rosemont College’s Center City location on May 21 starting at 11am. Click here for more information and to reserve your seat.
Cathy T. Colborn was born in Philadelphia, attended Rutgers-Camden, and received her MFA in Creative Writing from Rosemont College. She teaches English Composition at Camden County College and is teaching a Master Flash Class at Philadelphia Writers’ Conference in June. Cathy recently signed with Bizarro Pulp Press, an Imprint of Journalstone Publishing. Her book is expected the end of this year. Cathy also publishes YA steampunk through an Indie Publisher, WragsInk Publishing, and edits her literary journal, Philly Flash Inferno. (You can visit her at https://www.facebook.com/cathytcolborn or find PFI’s submission guidelines here: phillyflashinferno.com.)
How does she balance this busy work life with her creative writing life? She spoke with Philadelphia Stories’ Christine Weiser to discuss making time for her writing.
How do you make a living?
I make my living teaching English 101 and 102 at Camden County College, NJ. They also hired me as their roaming professor for their High School Enrichment Program. I think every principal in my area knows my name. It is fun, but I would love to get a full-time position at one college or university. On weekends (usually from February to July), I am busy selling my books and speaking on panels at various conventions to get paid or simply get my name out there.
How do you find time for writing in your busy life?
It bums me out that I cannot be as spontaneous during the school year with my personal writing anymore. Most of my life is scheduled to the max. I make sure to keep a journal close by though, to capture any ideas I get while teaching or marking papers. During the summer, my writing schedule is more flexible. I like writing after a hot cup of coffee at 9:00 A.M. (until about noon). I have also been known to spontaneously jump in a car at anytime or hop on a plane and travel to a particular destination to capture a particular setting.
Why do you do it?
I don’t remember enjoying anything else as a hobby (or second job). I was published in my first anthology at 25, and I feel like every year since, I have steadily progressed. I am finally selling out books at fairs and getting asked to teach master classes at conferences.
How do you see the time spent writing enriching other aspects of your life?
I am an introvert. Getting better at writing has forced me to do a whole world of scary things and now there is no stopping me. I will name two scary things that happened recently that I felt I owed all to my writing practice: Reading alongside the authors I mentioned in my thesis proposal at a Steampunk Convention in 2015. Seeing my face on advertisements for Philadelphia Writers’ Conference (next to the poet laureate) and being excited to attend and teach. These things can be paralyzing for an introvert, but practicing has helped me to overcome my fears. If you are any type of artist then you feel bad to let your passion wither and die because of fear or greed. Write and be known! Let me hear your voice.
What tips can you offer your writing peers?
Be persistent. Reread any books that you have on The Hero’s Journey (not so you can copy the circle for your protagonist, but so you can stand up to anyone that gets in the way of your personal quest). Believe in yourself! Lastly, make two goals every year: a short term and a long term. I guarantee that by achieving and replacing these goals, you will create a personal formula for writing success.
Interview by Christine Weiser, Executive Director of Philadelphia Stories and author of Come As You Are, a novel about balancing work, life, and a chick rock band.