By Tessa Wild, TWC Front Desk Associate
Tessa: Why did you decide to write NAKED JOY?
Nan: Born with a passion for writing, I had written stories for years about people, places and events around the world that intrigued me. Most of these wound up in a large dress box under my bed. Bolstered by the confidence and skills acquired through writing courses taken over the years, I eventually assembled those earlier works, along with some newer, into a collection of essays. My book, NAKED JOY, Confessions of a Skittish Catholic from Idaho, was published in July, 2017.
Tessa: How did your time at TWC impact your writing?
Nan: The courses I have taken at TWC over the past fifteen years have inspired me to continue writing, polishing previous work, honing my skills, and above all, refusing to give up. Experienced instructors/authors along with fellow classmates provided invaluable feedback. They offered both the praise and criticism I needed to refine my manuscript into a book worthy of publication.
Tessa: What kind of impact are you hoping your book will have on the world?
Nan: While I doubt NAKED JOY will have much of an impact on the world, I do hope my writing resonates with readers on a personal level. Reviews thus far, from men and women alike, have expressed an appreciation of my writer’s voice, describing often mundane occurrences in life with compassion, humility, and a droll sense of humor. I’d also like to believe I have put my Podunk little town of Nampa on the map for readers, by sharing a little of “My Own Private Idaho.” Despite being born and bred in this small western town, I have been fortunate to have traveled the world, called nearly a dozen locations home, and lived to write about my adventures before I’m too old to remember…
Tessa: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Nan: Without doubt, the most difficult part of the artistic process for me is the sharing of deeply personal, sometimes painful events with my readers, many complete strangers. An introverted, private, highly sensitive woman, I had to overcome this obstacle in my attempt to write honest, factual, believable stories.
Tessa: Did publishing your book change your writing process?
Nan: Publishing my book only changed my writing process in that I now have more confidence in myself. For years I could push my work aside and listen to that gnawing voice inside my head—“Face it. You are never going to be published. Give up!” This excuse is no longer valid. And it doesn’t hurt that sales have exceeded my expectations.
Tessa: What are you working on now?
Nan: I am currently working on writing a book about writing a book. After a decade of toil and countless rejections, I believe I have a story of interest for both writers and readers. I like to say “everything in the publication process that CAN go wrong, DID go wrong for me.” From shady agents, to lost submissions to computer catastrophes, I experienced some of the worst. But the highs made up for the lowest of lows and I survived. All should make for an enlightening, astounding, sometimes humorous, often infuriating, first-hand account of the world of publishing.
Tessa: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Nan: Here is my advice for naïve, aspiring writers like myself a short time ago. Besides the usual “don’t give up, develop a thick skin, believe in yourself,” etc., I might add—“BEWARE!” There are many “publishing experts” out there eager to help you in your quest to publish your work. And they will find you and contact you and entice you with promises for success. And they will want to charge you incredible fees with NO guarantees. These people seem to prey upon indie writers trying to make it on their own. I am not saying there aren’t some who are reputable and honest and able to help. But the money most are demanding is difficult to justify and their success rates highly questionable. With some effort and time, most writers can do for themselves what these professionals are promising. A writer and not a business person, I found myself learning more about marketing and publishing than I ever wanted to know, but my hard work paid off in the end.
Tessa: Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Nan: Not to boast, but my cousin’s grandfather—that would be my father’s sister’s husband’s father—helped invent the TATER TOT. And who doesn’t love these frozen Ore-Ida gems?
Nan Kilmer Baker hails from Idaho, the “Famous Potato” state, where she began writing as a young girl and never looked back—moving from diary entries to ghost writing term papers to copy writing. NAKED JOY is her first book, but in her dependably quirky blog she has been musing for years about topics as diverse as Mr. Clean, travel, toilets, butter and stain removal. Nan is the mother of two young adults. Having lived abroad for years, she currently resides in Northern Virginia with her husband—and other treasures she collected during her travels.