Local author Millicent Flake is a contributing writer for several local magazines and has had stories published in “Run For God Devotional II” and “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Running for Good.”

Read on to learn more about Flake, her writing process, current projects and tips for new authors.

Statement: Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas.

Flake: I feel that I am a slow writer — I like to have time for a blog post or story to “marinate.” I get many of my ideas when I am out walking by myself or, in these nice spring days, working in my flower garden. If something I have read or heard continues to “roll around” in my head, I take notice and pray about whether it should be my next blog post.

The hardest part for me is the rough draft. I will have an idea and then have to make myself sit down at the computer and start writing. I love Anne Lamott’s quote that the first draft is the child’s draft, where the ideas can “romp around” and no one will see them. I have found that very freeing. I let it all flow out, then come back the next day and start editing. I think of editing like a sculptor getting rid of the excess marble to reveal the masterpiece inside — I try to get rid of as many unnecessary words as possible to get my point across.

I am a morning person and do best when I can get to my desk by about 9, work for several hours, then take a break to walk or swim. Sometimes I go to the library or Panera Bread with my laptop and find that having a change of scenery helps me stay on task. I sometimes procrastinate about getting started on a writing project, then can’t make myself stop once I start.

I have been working on a young adult novel for at least five years. I work on it, then get sidetracked and come back. The same was true of the devotional book I just self-published, “Moving Beyond: Journeying Through Life’s Changes.” I spent months studying the Scriptures and praying about the direction it should go. After working on it off and on for three years I finally got it to a place that I felt it was ready and that I was proud to put it out into the world. Now I am going to go back to that novel and get it finished.

Question: What is your inspiration for writing?

Flake: I was inspired to write “Moving Beyond” after I retired from my job as a media specialist at Valley Point Middle in 2019. I struggled with the transition for the first months and realized it was similar to other times of change, such as leaving home for the first time, getting married, having a baby, going through the grief of my parents’ deaths, and watching my son go off to college. I thought about how people in the Bible went through similar changes and wondered what I might be able to learn from them.

My young adult novel is based on my experience of losing my older sister to cancer when I was in high school. The main character is much like me, but her story is the way I wish my story had been. Imagining a different scenario for my own life has been therapeutic.

Q: How did you celebrate the publishing of your first book?

Flake: Celebrating my first book has been wonderful. I have heard from so many friends from all over the country and the response has been so gratifying. My friend Gray Bridges helped me with my launch party at the Harris Arts Center in Calhoun and we had a great time. The highlight was being surprised by a woman who had been in my youth group in 1984 and drove down with her husband from Lexington, Kentucky, for the launch.

Q: If you were given the opportunity to form a book club with your favorite authors of all time, which legends or contemporary writers would you want to become a part of the club?

Flake: I have always wanted to be a fly on the wall at a meeting of the Inklings, the writer group that was composed of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and others back in the 1930s. Can you imagine listening to them critiquing “The Lord of the Rings?”

Q: Can you tell us about your current projects?

Flake: As mentioned above, I just finished my first book, “Moving Beyond: Journeying Through Life’s Changes,” and I’m very busy with signings and marketing it. My next big project will be finishing my young adult novel called “Weaving It Together.” Meanwhile, I put out a blog about once a month at Under the Magnolia Tree, www.maflake.com. and I’m also currently writing an article for Dalton Living magazine on Friendship House.

I just finished teaching a series of classes at the Harris Arts Center in Calhoun on finding your creativity and it was a fun class. I enjoy combining my love of writing with encouraging others to go after their dreams.

Q: Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?

Flake: Be confident in yourself! If you feel the urge to write and create, do it without worrying about the outcome. You can write beautiful poems and stories and never publish them. Do it for yourself first, then share your creations with trusted friends.

Learn as much as you can about the writing craft and about publishing options, if you choose to pursue that. But don’t let fear and self-doubt hold you back.

Finally, the best way to get better as a writer is to write. So make time, if not every day, at least several days a week to write something and you will soon find doors opening.

• Flake graciously donated a copy of her book “Moving Beyond: Journeying Through Life’s Changes” to the library. Drop by the library and check it out.

We are open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Brandy Wyatt is the administrator of the Dalton-Whitfield County Public Library.


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