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Today I’m pleased to be talking with fellow Write It Sideways Blogging Contest winner, Ashley Prince. Ashley is following her childhood writing dream while balancing the demands of college, work and the joys of being a newlywed…

Beyond the Gray: Thanks for joining us, Ashley! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ashley Prince: Well, let’s see. I am 20 years old, newly married, and currently living in San Antonio, Texas. I work part time at The Children’s Place and go to school full time. I am majoring in Anthropology and Religious Studies. Writing plays a huge role in both fields and I am thrilled to be able to incorporate my dream into my passion for these fields.

BTG: Tell us about your writing dream.

AP: As far back as I can remember I’ve always dreamed of writing. I believe it stems from my crazed passion for reading. My mom always told me when I couldn’t find a book to read, to write the story myself. In sixth grade, I took her up on that and wrote a short story called The Royal Spies, think Spy Kids set in medieval times.  Since then, I have been writing poems, songs, short stories, mock articles; anything really.

As simple as it may sound, I work towards my dream by writing and sharing my work with people who are willing to read what I have to say. The Write It Sideways Blogging Contest was the first writing contest I’ve ever done, aside from National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). When the contest was announced I said, “I’m doing it. No excuses. I am doing this.” And I am so glad I did!

BTG: Your article, “4 Places to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing” was selected as a winner of the Write It Sideways Blogging Contest. Tell us about your blogging activities. 

AP: I write two blogs and co-write another with my husband. Byron’s Curse is a more personal and very random blog. I post on everything from the 7 Deadly Sins, pictures when I can’t think of things to write, serious topics and not-so-serious topics. My inspiration for creating that blog was Lord Byron’s quote: “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.” I don’t know about you, but that is exactly how I feel and the main reason I continue to write.

My second blog, Open Eyes and Open Mind, started as a response to a Cultures of the Middle East class I took a couple semesters ago and turned into a comparative religion blog. It’s not exactly what I want it to be, but I don’t want to give it up. I find religion awareness to be very lacking in America today and it truly saddens me.

BTG: What else do you like to write about?

AP: Honestly, it depends on my mood. I love everything but I think I write non-fiction best because I don’t’ have to make up anything. I just write from the heart and from my experiences. But the idea of creating my own stories is so appealing that I try to do it as often as I can.  I am currently working on a novel called Pearl that I started writing during NaNoWriMo last year and didn’t finish.

BTG: Tell us about Pearl.

AP: Pearl is a teen fiction book that is based on a real life relationship; my sister in-law’s, to be specific. She is a junior in high school and got involved in a very serious relationship. In the span of six months, her boyfriend told her he loved her (on the third date), proposed to her, and was physically and emotionally abusive. I am so proud of my sister in-law for being able to get out of it.

Here is a synopsis of Pearl:

Evelyn is just starting her senior year of high school. Heavily involved in the student body, she is president of her senior class, and almost everyone knows her name. Teachers love her, parents treat her as an adult, and she knows who she is in life.

Cole, the town’s wrestling star, begins to notice Evelyn and immediately decides to pursue her. Having never had a serious boyfriend, Evelyn soon becomes captivated by his charm and protective presence.

But their relationship quickly takes a turn for the worse. Cole’s charm hides his true self from Evelyn’s family and friends, and his once protective nature turns into a tyrannical nightmare.

BTG: What is your biggest fear as a writer?

Imperfection. I am scared of having imperfection in my writing, in my stories, in my career, dreams or anywhere for that matter. It terrifies me. I haven’t worked past it as much as I would like, but I constantly remind myself that imperfections are what make people so interesting.

BTG: What inspires you?

AP: My inspiration for writing comes from years of reading, experiencing life and, most importantly, my mom. Without her, I don’t know what I would have done with myself. She has always encouraged me to follow my dreams no matter how big or impossible they seem.

BTG: If you could give one piece of advice to someone else who is struggling to follow a dream, what would it be?

AP: Never give up. Never surrender. Yes, I stole this quote from Galaxy Quest, but seriously. I know people hear this all the time, but I cannot stress how important it is. Every dream is perfectly attainable; somehow, some way.  Everything is within your reach.

And don’t confuse taking a break from your dream with giving up. I have taken many breaks from writing because there were things in my life that needed more attention before I could move on with my dreams.

Dreams are a funny thing; even if you try to hide from them they always have a way of finding you.

To learn more about Ashley Prince, visit her at her at Byron’s Curse:

Are you following a dream? If so, I’d love to hear from you.
E-mail me at Erika (dot) Liodice (at sign) hotmail (dot) com

Dave and I recently embarked on a new journey: volunteerism. This is something we’ve wanted to do for years but never made the time. Finally, we stopped making excuses and took action. After considering dozens of wonderful causes, we decided to begin as “friendly visitors” at a local nursing home, where we’ll spend time with people who don’t get many visitors.

Our orientation was scheduled for this past Tuesday. Before we went, I contacted the Volunteer Coordinator to ask what we needed to bring. She replied, “Nothing. Just come with an open heart.”

It’s been a couple days since the orientation, but those words have stayed with me. Come with an open heart.

I think it’s valuable advice for anyone embarking on a new journey, whether it’s volunteerism, a new job, marriage, parenthood, retirement or another path. When we approach life with an open heart, we not only make a difference to those around us, we allow them to make a difference to us too.

Next time you embark on a new journey, go with an open heart.

Photo Credit

The other night I had the privilege of attending a talk given by Eat, Pray, Love author, Elizabeth Gilbert. As you may know, Eat, Pray, Love is one of my favorite books and I liken the experience of hearing Gilbert speak to seeing a favorite band in concert. Seeing Liz up there was like watching a rock star. A literary rock star.

As she talked about her journey from growing up on a Connecticut Christmas tree farm to penning one of the most popular memoirs in recent memory to having Julia Roberts play her in the movie version of her life, there was one piece of advice really stayed with me. She said that she never had to find her path, she just had to obey it. For her, writing has always been a path of the heart, something she did regardless of the outcome. Like most dream chasers, she struggled and faced rejection. But more than anything, she obeyed the path.

Many of us know our path, we can feel it at work in our hearts. The challenge isn’t finding it, it’s obeying it. Regardless of the outcome.

Are you obeying the path of your heart?

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