Tyronica Smith: Poet at heart
Meeting the Rising Writer No. 19
Some authors also tend to be poets, and today we’ll meet one of them. Tyronica Smith has agreed to a virtual interview with me today, and she has a fun story that describes her life as a writer. In her poetry, Tyronica identifies herself as Cadence, but she uses her legal name, or her middle name and former last name (Dechelle Minor), in her other writings.
When she isn’t writing, Tyronica takes care of her family, or she handles craft projects such as crocheting, drawing, listening to music, and reading.
Thank you, Tyronica, for agreeing to an interview.
When did you start writing?
When I learned how to hold a pencil at around age five or six. My stories were born out of the pictures I drew and then later on, when I had a grip on words, I wrote things in my first journal my mom bought me.
Were you always good at writing?
I don’t know about writing but I’ve always had a knack for telling a story.
What are you currently working on? How did you begin working on it?
I am currently working on the novel that I wrote for NaNoWriMo this past November. The title keeps changing because I am unsettled with what to call it – for now it is “Cheaper to Keep Her.” It was an idea I had while chatting with friends online and having been given some insight into their personal lives, I decided to use that as fodder for the writing.
Give us insight to your main character. Who is he or she? What is his or her purpose?
My main character’s name is Alexander Monteague; he owns a publishing company, is well known in his city and “pull” with some people of note (mostly business men and politicians). He had a lot going for himself and seems perfect, only he is in a love triangle with his wife and girlfriend. He thinks everything through, thoroughly, except where women are involved. His mission or purpose in life is to prosper in his business and iron out his personal life. Things get hairy and sticky when life decides to throw him a few curve balls in which he has to respond as an adult rather than a rich playboy.
What’s your favorite part of this novel?
Writing in male voice. This is the second time I’ve done it. It gives me an excuse to pester male friends of mine as well as step out of my comfort zone.
Would you like to tell us more about your book?
My book is set in the present; it is also set in within the city I live in. My characters are a representation of people that I know and of myself. It all starts with a letter that the main character wrote to an advice column, online. Many people read it: his co-workers, friends, and wife. But, no one is sure who sent the letter and doing her duty as an advice columnist, Lynn Da’Hand answers Alexander, the main character, with a foreboding tone. He picks up on it and is unsettled by it. Little did he know that the letter would be the thing to turn his world upside down. Some things are left to fate while the matters of the heart are left to the scorned. Words prove to be as powerful as actions in this story and all the characters will come to see it in the end.
Where do your characters come from?
My characters are aspects of myself, loosely based on people that I know and based off celebrities I like (when they are acting).
Have you written other novels, or do you usually focus on poetry?
There are a few more novels in progress over at Wattpad that have yet to be updated. Poetry doesn’t always come as easy as I would like it to. So, I try to switch it up when I can. Using both media has happened before as well.
Does your poetry ever inspire a story or vise versa?
Yes definitely. I’ve written some pieces that have spawned into short stories. I love it when that happens. The last writing prompt we had, that happened. I’m working on an ending now.
Which writing prompt?
The last one we had: “I should have read the contract.” It was fun and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
What inspires your writing?
For the most part, people. I love to people watch. Sometimes, I get to overhear little snippets of conversation and pieces of artwork or music also inspire me.
What/who are your favorite or most reliable support groups?
Authors’ Tale and a writer’s group formed during my years in college. I still meet with them and they are some lovely people that believe in having fun while sharing our work with each other.
What is the biggest mistake you think you make while writing? How do you overcome it?
Allowing the internet to distract me and using the words “he” and “she” too much during writing. I give myself the excuse of it being a first draft and anything goes, but old habits die hard and I have to work at correcting that when I edit. Overcoming the mistakes…well, I create a time specifically for internet so that it does not interfere with writing and I try to be more descriptive in my writing. Also, not using so many dashes ( – ) and ellipses punctuation (…). I do this a lot in my writing, and I don’t see it as disturbing to the eye but my readers might think it is.
To you, what’s the most important part of a story? What “makes” the story work?
I believe it is the story’s voice. I grew up with an awesome storyteller by the name of Bobby Norfolk. This man was in my school and on my television on Saturdays giving great voice to the stories read. From that, I learned to not only listen for the voice of a story but give it one as well. Stories have personalities; we just have to draw them out with our creation of them.
What do you hope to achieve with your writing?
I hope to purge every creative thought I have in any genre so that I can say, “Yeah, I wrote that.” Also, to tell the stories that no one has told yet.
What do you do before you begin writing a book? What do you do before you begin a day of writing?
Before I sit down to pen the book—before I begin any kind of writing at all either with pen and paper or my laptop—I dream it. I sit and daydream the story and allow it to play before my eyes like a movie, and then I go from there. Now, I usually take care of all tasks that day, drink whatever beverage I need (mainly coffee), pray for clarity, focus on completion (yes I actually do this and it helps!), then I dive in to the writing.
Have you ever worked with a writer on a project?
Yes and it was the hardest thing ever, because we were two people with totally different imaginations that wanted to tell the story a certain way. We did not complete that project but promise to come back to it at a later date. The thought of working with another writer is awesome and something I look forward to doing in the future.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?
Yes! And I use massive amounts of chocolate along with retracing my steps in the story. If I like the path that its going in, then I think of way to forge ahead and if I don’t, I begin again from that point to freshen the story up. As much as I hate to admit it, characters usually die when I come out of writer’s block.
Do you have any amusing stories about your life as a writer?
When my son was in the sixth grade, he took a piece of my writing to school and tried to pass it off as his own. He got into trouble for it. The teacher did what he was going to do and I did what I needed to do as a parent and disciplined him. A few days after the incident the English teacher called me in for a meeting; we sat down and discussed my son’s behavior in class and some of the things he said when asked about my writing. The teacher told me that my kid was bummed and really wanted a good grade. He was sad because he took something that didn’t belong to him and when asked where he got it from, he said his mom, but the teacher did not believe him.
Here’s where it gets interesting…That teacher called me in to verify that I had written the work. He asked me specific questions about the piece and I gave him one better, I gave him insight into the writer’s mind and what the metaphors meant. He looked shocked because I had answered his questions and gave him more info than he wanted. He apologized and asked if I would come and speak to the class on creative writing and told me that he was going to make copies of my work to share with his friends. I was taken aback—I had not thought the story was that good, but he thought so. In the end, because my name was removed from the story, I had to remind him of his own words about plagiarism and ask that he respect the author. He agreed and to this day whenever I see the man, he tips his hat at me.
Plagiarism is something I had only thought of as a problem in college or on the job—never in an elementary school and certainly not with my son. He learned his lesson and didn’t do it again. For that I am glad. But the fact that I got interrogated by his teacher ( I know he was just doing his job) tickles me even now. The name of that story is “Midnight Hallocaust” and is up at my Wattpad account for any interested in reading it.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t stop writing, don’t stop drawing, believe in yourself, and teach the things that you know to others who want to know…keeping what you have learned to yourself will only benefit you, so how will it help those whom you want to help? Share your talents.
Do you have any advice you’d like to give other writers?
Yes, please don’t give up. We have all heard that the world needs our books, our poetry and our art, and that’s true, but what the world needs more than anything are people like us; people who see the world from their own perspective and are able to put what we see to words. People who speak the language of creative minds fluently and can interpret what they’ve seen in so many words and images.
Man….the world needs you! Your craft, your ability to tell a story and your ability to see what no one else can. We need more movers and shakers, more Shakespeares and DaVincis, more students and teachers of the craft. More people who are willing to shed some light on a place that has become dark. Be that light. Please don’t give up.
BONUS QUESTION: If you could go back in time and ask any author/playwright/poet one question, who would it be and what would you ask?
I would ask Edgar Allen Poe how much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood…just to see his reaction. Seriously though, I’d ask Mr. Poe what she was like. What was the woman like that captivated his heart enough to write poems and stories about the affairs of his heart? That is something I’d really like to know…and if the above would make him laugh.
How can readers and fellow writers discover more about you and your work?