Author Innocent O’Connell: How To Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book
Enjoy your writing. I could never finish any of my earlier stories because I was worried about what others thought about my work. That worry made me self conscious which led to writer’s block. Write for yourself, write what you would like to read there is always one other person who would appreciate your work for what it is. Once you enjoy your writing others will as well.
As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Innocent O’Connell.
Innocent O’Connell is the author of Zesser’s Paradise and a full time student pursuing her B.A in Journalism she also works as a freelance journalist. Innocent wants to change the world with her written works and show that no matter where you come from you can change your own world. A firm believer in true journalism she aspires to be an investigative journalist in her home country of Trinidad and Tobago.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
For as long as I can remember my family have always been readers. Growing up my grandmother would read stories to me every night and every morning she would read the newspapers out loud. I remember thinking that I wanted to be the person whose words she was reading. Due to these influences I have always wanted to be a writer/journalist.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
The most interesting story of what happened to me so far in my career was attending a ‘zess’ which is a party. I went to the zess for research purposes and ended up staying for over 12 hours. Wanting to have the full experience I went to another party instead of going home that lasted for two days. I eventually left to get rest and out of curiosity went back and saw everyone still partying and having fun.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?
The biggest challenge I faced was actually finding an ending for my story. I am mostly a private person and at a point I realised that I was intentionally not ending the story because ending the story meant that it was complete and ready to be seen by others. I eventually overcame it by realising that I wanted others to enjoy reading my work as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I would start stories but never end them because the ending would never come to me or I wanted it to be perfect. I always had an excuse for my work to not be seen by others and it being unfinished was the biggest excuse. I tried posting parts of my stories on apps such as Wattpad in order to overcome my fear but even then they remained unfinished due to my own insecurities about my writing. However, I realised that if being an author was really the part I wanted to take in life that eventually others would have to read and critique my work. So I learned to write for myself and let others take enjoyment from what brought me joy.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I was first starting to write my book I told myself I could do it all in the space of a week, needless to say for that entire first week I got less than 24 hours of sleep and had written less than two chapters. I had even gotten mad at myself thinking that I could not write because if I could why was I taking so much time. I learned that writing takes time, you have to make sure and rest, take a step away from your manuscript sometimes to take a breath and eventually what you want to put on paper will come to you and the time will fly.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am currently working on the second book of the Zesser’s Paradise series named Murder in the Mangrove. It will follow the same characters of the first book but it will be more focused towards solving crimes so it is a glimpse of the other side of the law than what is mostly portrayed in the first book. This second book will be more gritty and hardcore than its predessor so there will be much more research and thought put into its completion.
Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
The most interesting story to me that I shared in my book was a scene where the main character escaped from Tobago to Trinidad by boat in the middle of the night. The book, while a work of fiction, has some scenes based off of real life situations that have happened to people I know. It makes that scene all the more interesting as it holds a kernel of truth to it and while the situation of how the character got into that situation may defer from real life the emotion and excitement of the scene is carried through.
What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?
The main lesson I want readers to take away from my book after reading it, is that no matter what decisions you make in life there is always another option. There is always a way to make your situation better, to make your life better.
Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author”? Please share a story or example for each.
Firstly, your words are your own. Many feel that everything that there is to be said has already been told but that is not true because everyone’s perspective is unique. No one can write something exactly like another person.
Secondly, practice makes perfect. On some days I do not feel like writing but I do anyway even if it is just a sentence. The more you write the easier the words come to exist.
Thirdly, the first draft is never perfect. When I gave my first draft to another to read for the first time they laughed and asked me if I had passed English in school the grammar was so terrible, but that was because it was my raw thoughts of what I wanted my book to be it was my unpolished diamond and through editing and other drafts it became my prized jewel.
Fourthly, no idea is a bad idea. When I started my book it came from the idea of someone I looked up to dying in front of me. I was appalled by the thought and the fact that I could think something like that. However, I have come to accept that I have an overactive imagination and that one thought gave birth to an entire book. If you have an idea, explore it, you never know what it could lead to.
Fifthly, enjoy your writing. I could never finish any of my earlier stories because I was worried about what others thought about my work. That worry made me self conscious which led to writer’s block. Write for yourself, write what you would like to read there is always one other person who would appreciate your work for what it is. Once you enjoy your writing others will as well.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study). Can you share a story or example?
One habit I believe contributed the most to me becoming a great writer is my perseverance. This book had just been a thought for over two years before I decided to put pen to paper. Then when I started to write I had school and work as well to complete but I knew what I wanted so I persevered towards my goal. No matter how tired I felt or even when I could think of nothing to write for a chapter I stuck to it believing in myself that if I put in the work eventually I would reach my goal.
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
I draw inspiration from Martina Cole books mostly. Growing up she was one of my mother’s favourite authors and I would sneak the books to read. Her writing to me represented the true, gritty lives of others that mostly remains unknown to others or overly glorified. I want my books to represent the lives of others so that anyone who reads them can in some way say I relate to this character and what they went through.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would start a Hear Me Movement. A movement for those who feel like their words are oppressed and that they can not properly express themselves or their thoughts to others. Everyone deserves a chance to be heard, no matter how small or big their issue is, everyone wants to be heard by someone who can simply say I understand what you are saying.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
They can reach me on instagram @zessersparadisett or on facebook @Zesser’s Paradise.
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!