I’m happy to welcome author Yecheilyah Ysrayl to my blog.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thank you, Rachel, for having me. My name is Yecheilyah (pronounced e-see-lee-yah) Ysrayl known to most as EC. I’m a native of Chicago and have been writing since I was twelve years old. I’ve been publishing my work now for about ten years. I am passionate about black history which is funny because I was never a history buff in school. But I enjoy reading and learning about the history of my people. I love sitting at the knees of elders and hearing stories of life back before I existed. So naturally, I got into writing about us just the same. Toni Morrison said that if there’s a book that you want to read that hasn’t been written yet then you must write it and that’s exactly what I do, though not always consciously. Poetry also has my heart and I dabble in Sci-Fi as well so don’t be surprised if you see me releasing something about aliens in the future. I try not to be limited.
How long have you been writing for?
I’ve been writing since I was twelve years old, so about eighteen years now.
What is your writing process like?
I’ll admit, I don’t like this question. It always sounds a bit weird to me because I like to keep things simple which means I don’t have much of a process. I sit down and write. The end.
I do write in silence and I try to tune everything out as I am writing the first draft. I think writers must learn the art of ignoring people. Otherwise, it can be difficult to create anything of value as you’re worrying about what people say and what people think. You’ll be constantly changing to fit someone’s opinion or version of what should be. So, my process is to stay to myself until it’s time to get deep into those revisions where I’ll need the assistance of others.
Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?
Awwue Rachel. Is this another “process” question? Lol. OK. Let’s see here. It really depends on what day we’re talking about but on average, I start my day with a good workout. I get up in the morning and I head to the fitness center and it’s the first thing that I do aside from morning prayers and coffee, of course. Working out really helps to get the juices flowing mentally, the energy pumping and I find I have more clarity afterward. This is important to me because I think we forsake the mind a lot and forget that it must be exercised just as much as anything else. After the workout, it depends on what’s on the calendar. I have this gigantic calendar I keep at my desk as well as notebooks and sticky notes as reminders of what needs to be done. Is there a book I need to finish taking notes on for a review? Is it researching I need to do for a scene? Is there something outside of writing that holds priority? When I sit up on the bed, before I even get up, I usually spend a few moments staring out into space thinking about what I need to do that day with such questions.
What motivates you to write?
I am inspired the most by the people I meet and the books that I read. I love a book that just has you looking at the cover after you’ve read it and wishing there was a movie being made about it so you can see how the characters look in real life, and if they are different from how you imagined them in your head. The kind of book that leaves your mouth hanging open because you can’t understand how to process the fact that this book is over. Like, this is literally it. Those kinds of books get my hype and I want to write a book that is just as engaging. I am also motivated by the people that I meet, lifting them up and inspiring them to aspire for greatness. For me writing does not come from a focus on writing but a focus on living. The desire to educate and motivate others is most inspiring for me.
What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?
I jumped up and down and then ran next door to show my neighbors.
Are you currently working on anything new?
Currently, I am revising Revelation which is book two in The Nora White Story. I am also working on a short inspirational piece called BREATHE. One of the things I am passionate about is motivating others and so this book is something I hope to offer to writers who specifically struggle with stress and low self-esteem, pressure and that beast called doubt. It’s a short project I hope to have out by the close of this year. It won’t have a big launch or anything.
If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?
An elementary school teacher, hands down. I have worked with children for most of my life. I started with small children at The Louisiana In-Home School Program. I did that for four years. Then my husband and I managed a center in Shreveport for inner-city youth among other things where we tutored children of all ages, from as young as three to as old as seventeen. I did that for another five years. If I wasn’t writing I would definitely be teaching in some capacity.
What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?
The easiest part of writing for me is when I sit down to write that first draft. Not easy as in I snap my fingers and there’s a book but easy in that it’s the most fun part to me when you sit down and you write the story for the first time. Most of what you write at first may not even make it to the book (there are lots of chapters that did not make it to the final copy of Renaissance!) but that’s not what you worry about right then and there so it makes it a most exciting time. On a more serious note, it’s also the time where I am most serious about not letting everyone in because although the first draft, this is also where I feel that I am writing most of my heart. And the heart is important because despite going through so many changes later, the heart can never change. If it’s there it can never change. It can never be edited or critiqued or omitted. Because if the heart is there, the manuscript has its heartbeat and can live. That said, the fun part is just writing and being me as I write.
The hardest part is everything else! Lol. It’s the revising of the novel and making sure the plot makes sense enough to consider actually publishing. It’s the hustle for reviews later and market, promote, and so on. That’s the most challenge part for me, everything after the first draft. It’s challenging because I’m a shy person and to sell books it’s not like you can really stand in the background. So, I find myself doing a lot of what I am not comfortable doing. I’m not complaining because that’s where the growth is, outside that comfort zone. It’s challenging though.
What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?
Oh, Rachel. You really trying to have your readers here all day now. To keep it brief, I really wish I knew more about dialogue tags, head-hopping, and interior formatting before I started.
What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?
My favorite book since sixth grade is Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. This book made me want to write Literary Fiction. Not just this book but all the others. Let the Circle Be Unbroken, The Road to Memphis. I mean, her collection was life for me as a girl and I still have Roll of Thunder on my bookshelf today. It’s a little beat up but I have it. I may just order the others for the sake of it. Native Son by Richard Wright also changed my life.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Read a lot, write a lot, and stay disciplined. Reading will keep that fire in you to create stories of your own. Discipline will force you to write them. Inspiration is great. Motivation is cool, but these aren’t constant. They don’t last. No one feels inspired or motivated forever. But if you have discipline and endurance then you can force yourself to do what needs to be done consistently enough to achieve your goals.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Thank you, Rachel, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to pencil me in. Thanks to everyone reading this for the likes and shares. And if anyone would be interested in learning more about me and my work, I would be humbled if you could sign-up for my email list HERE to keep in touch. Thanks again.
About the Author
Yecheilyah Ysrayl is an Independent Author, Blogger, Poet, and Book Reviewer and writes Historical Fiction / African American Literature and poetry. Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) is her ninth work and is due for release Saturday, July 15, 2017. A native of Chicago, she now resides in Shreveport, LA with her husband where she writes and blogs full time.
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