#GirlsRock: An Interview with Life Enthusiast Britt Skrabanek


britt-lede
photo credit: Kalexanderson Stormtrooper happiness via photopin (license)

Most of us live.

cd-interviewsSome of us LIVE. Britt Skrabanek is one like this. She’s a life enthusiast, and for the unitiated, that doesn’t mean she runs with the bulls or skydives (without that goofy guide guy strapped to your back, either.)

(She doesn’t do those things, but she could.)

Britt is classic and new all at once. She writes to live and lives to write, always hopeful, never satisfied, forever pushing her own boundaries and exploring the outer reaches of others’. She’s been with me for much of this blogular journey.

Her page, Britt Skrabanek, bears her name because it bears her words – the professional side, the novelist side, the dreamer side, and sometimes, more than one of those.

I’m honored to honor her as a #GirlsRock interview. #GirlsRock is my conversation with compelling women who do cool things. Britt certainly qualifies. Please give her a warm CD welcome, and be sure to visit Britt Skrabanek (the page, not the girl) soon.

Although, you *could* visit the girl …

britt-secondary
photo credit: DocChewbacca Giant Buddha via photopin (license)

CD: When you were little, what did you think you’d grow up to be?

Britt: Ah, man. I was all over the place! You know, from a young age I was just so excited about the infinite possibilities out there. As I started to learn about life, I became enchanted with it. My mom and dad both always told me I was just as good as the boys. Dad challenged me to be active at all times, and I was constantly doing sports or dancing, pushing myself beyond my girly limits. Later in life, my ballet teachers asked me to dance with the boys, because I could jump higher than all of them.

I was used as an example to make them try harder. Mom showed me how to use intelligence to succeed. She didn’t get her college degree until she was nearly 40, and went on to obtain her master’s degree and become a top software engineer. She worked in a profession surrounded by men, and she was highly respected by her team. I was beyond fortunate to have parents who encouraged me to explore different avenues, as it helped me understand what my legit passion was.

So, though I wanted to be a dancer, a vet, an actress, an archaeologist—and my favorite, Indiana Jones – I eventually became what I always wanted to be. A writer.

CD: As a writer, you can be just about all of those, right?

Britt: Totally! And heck, the possibilities are endless when your imagination is calling the shots. I’ve been a lounge-singing spy in World War II Berlin from the future, a lost young woman in the witness protection program trying to find herself, and three women in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League who were inspired by Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, and Marilyn Monroe. For the past year or so, I’ve been living in a dystopian Portland, playing a reluctant hero who can command nature.

She’s like Pocahontas meets Poison Ivy. So, yeah…my overactive imagination never went away as I “grew up.” I’m glad I found an outlet to explore these different lives that I would never have been able to try out in the real world.

CD: Do these women carry a little of you in them – or do you carry a little of them?

Britt: Both, of course!

During story creation, it starts off with the women carrying a little of me. After I finish the book, I end up carrying a little of them with me. Whenever I miss my characters, I pick up one of my old books and hang out with them again.

Because when you spend years with someone, real or imaginary, the connection runs deep. My main characters are always some version of me, supporting characters are inspired by people close to me, and any others that end up in my books are people I have met briefly or seen from a distance.

Drawing from life experiences is what we writers do, and I think that’s what makes fiction so fascinating. Stories don’t just come out of nowhere.

CD: What are your favorite stories by other people?

Britt: My favorite stories tend to strike an interesting balance between love and war. I read all kinds of fiction because as a writer, I find just about anything interesting. But, my favorite stories invariably are the same – a romantic WWII story that is written lyrically and honestly.

Examples are All the Light We Cannot See and The English Patient. I recently finished the latter and I was floored by the intensely beautiful story Michael Ondaatje masterminded. I mean, when you read this…

“There are betrayals in war that are childlike compared with our human betrayals during peace. The new lovers enter the habits of the other. Things are smashed, revealed in a new light. This is done with nervous or tender sentences, although the heart is an organ of fire.”

…you feel something and you go somewhere. That, to me, is winning the writing game.

CDWhen have you felt you were winning the writing game?

Britt: Oooh, that’s a toughie but I’m going with the truth here and saying…never.

I don’t believe writing is that cut and dry anymore, that there is winning and losing. Every high point meets its match at a low point, like spending years writing a book to publish it (win!) and see sales peak at 22 downloads on the weekend it releases (lose!).

Writing is like the most humbling teeter-totter you’ll ever play on. The ups and downs are constant.

For me, trying to chase that winning feeling with writing only leads to disappointment. Then, the doubt comes—and the thought of giving up is right on doubt’s heels.

Writing isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about loving it or not loving it. If you love it, do it…just write. If you don’t love it, find something else you love doing. Life truly is too short.

CD: Tell us about a time you loved writing most.

Britt: Ah, man. There have been so many awesome moments, but one particular blog post stands out to me.

When I found out my mom had breast cancer again, I immediately wrote a blog and published it. I needed the emotional release, but I also wanted to tell her all the things I couldn’t say on the phone when she gave me the news (obviously, I was shell-shocked).

I wanted to tell her how much I loved her, uncensored, without it being a two-way conversation. I wanted to let it all out and ask my kind community to send her good vibes—I wanted to give her strength somehow.

[See Britt’s post about her mom, here]

That may seem like an outlandish idea to some, that a blog could have the power to do all of that. But, it did. I think it was my aunt that read it first and told my mom. The post was shared throughout my community and hers, and it continued to ripple beautifully.

Writing is so very special in that way. Writing allows us to unleash the words we might never say out loud. It allows us to be more bold with our ability to love.

CD: Britt, thanks so much for sharing your story with us. What advice would you give to girls who like to write, and want to do more of it?

Britt: Write constantly…doesn’t matter what it is. Growing up, I wrote in my journal every night about what I was feeling and thinking—as an emotional release more than anything. Often it was gibberish, but it helped me work through a lot of the tough stuff. I “talked” about things that I would have never said in real life to anyone.

The only time I ever wrote anything official was in school when it was an assignment, but there were always stories inside my mind. I never thought I would write one novel, let alone four.

There’s no point in trying to BE a writer, trying to be whatever that image of success is in your head. If you love to write and you’re writing, that’s what makes you a writer. And when you embrace the beautiful simplicity of it all, it feels awesome.

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39 Replies to “#GirlsRock: An Interview with Life Enthusiast Britt Skrabanek”

  1. As always, great interview. Girls rock! I love your end quote… as I apply the same philosophy to pretty much everything, mostly running. If you run and you’re running you’re a runner.

      1. I would love to get in to doing some yoga, but a) I’m not sure where to fit it in my day and still run and b) where to start 🙂 I just finished the book. It was really good!

  2. wonderful post and it is all about the simplicity, you are so right. i happened to write about simplicity today as well, and fully believe in a simple approach to things.

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