C. Hope Clark – Your Invisible Mentor This Week
5 Great Ideas from C. Hope Clark’s Interview
- Do not seek shortcuts, the long road is always the more educational
- Admire the success of others, but find your own path
- Everyone’s career changes so constantly do research to keep up
- Help others, fill a need and you’ll become indispensable
- Study your craft and practice, practice, practice
Avil Beckford: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
C. Hope Clark: I write nonfiction for others and fiction for me. I hope one day to cross the bridge where each works for the other side. I adore the outdoors. When I lived three years in Phoenix, one of the first things I did upon returning to my beloved South was to hug a tree. Seriously. I’m married to a retired federal agent, and security/safety is huge in my house. I have two sons, two stepsons, a grandson and granddaughter (Yea, tell me I look too young. I love hearing that – that’s just the photography, trust me. You should see me in person. The years have left their mark here and there.) When I built my house, I told the contractor he had two main goals – place my writing room so it had the best view of the lake . . . and build my husband’s walk-in-safe exactly as he wanted. I said safety was key already, didn’t I? We live on the banks of Lake Murray in South Carolina.
Avil Beckford: How do you integrate your personal and professional life?
C. Hope Clark: Very wisely. I know how to say no to those things that interfere. I keep my life simple, but my professional life is a strong part of me. It’s the reason I left the nine-to-five, so I’m committed to it. But working at home has allowed me to better weave the two so that they complement and rarely interfere with each other. For instance, while my husband washes dishes and catches his second morning coffee, I’m typing this. When he’s done, we’ll go outside and work on my latest chicken coop project. It’s a constant give and take, with respect for both.
Avil Beckford: What’s a major regret that you’ve had in life?
C. Hope Clark: I didn’t trust myself as a young person to pursue my own interests. I went to college and studied the sciences because my parents would approve. I did so many things in order to please my parents. I was 35 before I realized I had to achieve things for my own interest. It was a major jolt for them and me when I did.
Avil Beckford: What are five life lessons that you have learned so far?
C. Hope Clark:
- Love yourself.
- Respect others.
- Do not seek short cuts, the long road is always the more educational.
- Admire the success of others, but find your own path.
- Be honest.
Avil Beckford: When you have some down time, how do you spend it?
C. Hope Clark: Reading, a lot. Gardening, a lot. Sitting on the back porch, sipping a bourbon usually, with hubby, watching the wildlife at the lake and sometimes reading him my latest chapter. It’s a ritual. It’s hard to pry me from this place.
Avil Beckford: What process do you use to generate great ideas?
C. Hope Clark: Sit in silence with paper and pen. Introspection is the most basic step of invention and creativity.
Avil Beckford: What’s your favourite quotation and why?
C. Hope Clark: I do not have one. The closest might be “be true to yourself.” Again, I admire others, usually more in passing than dwelling on them, but I don’t want to live in anyone’s shadow.
Avil Beckford: How do you define success?
C. Hope Clark: Ah, I’ve given this answer many times. Doing what you love and loving the results.
Avil Beckford: In your opinion what’s the formula for success?
C. Hope Clark: See the answer above. I think being original and not copying others helps hone the edges of that success, making it all the finer.
Avil Beckford: What are the steps you took to succeed in your field?
C. Hope Clark: First, choose an enjoyable field. Second, do tons of research and never stop doing that research, because everyone’s career changes. Third, be consistent and reliable in your work product. I kept envisioning others watching, waiting for me to produce for them, needing what I had to deliver. When you feel you are helping others, filling their needs, you become a better worker, better person.
Avil Beckford: What advice do you have for someone just starting out in your field?
C. Hope Clark: Don’t be so arrogant to think you should publish quickly. While publishing is a form of recognition in my field, to do so too soon is to tarnish your image and disrespect the reader/your client. In other professions, people attend years of school, intern, serve residencies, create many prototypes. They work for years to become respected. Writing is no different. You will not be successful overnight. Thinking you can is a slap in the face of others in the profession. Study hard, write daily, read voraciously, then submit only when you feel great about the end product. If you don’t know if it’s good, then it isn’t.
Avil Beckford: If trusted friends could introduce you to five people that you’ve always wanted to meet, who would you choose? And what would you say to them?
C. Hope Clark: This is going to border on the arrogant, but I do not want to be perceived as a groupie. I’m not into meeting famous people. I only want to have a conversation with someone just as interested in me as I am in him/her. Only then can we have a genuine, back-and-forth conversation with depth. Only then can we both walk away and feel the experience an investment in our lives.
That said, let me see if I can drum up five people:
- My grandmother (deceased). She lived on a farm in the Mississippi Delta. She was talented with her hands and seemed to have been good with people – a gentle soul.
- Jesus Christ. Might sound cliche-ish, but I would love to hear how he would have handled some situations I weathered.
- Jenna Glatzer. Also a writer who started with a newsletter like FundsforWriters, she sold Absolute Write to pay more attention to her personal life and her freelancing. I respect her apparent vision and would love to meet her as a peer in the business.
- Thomas Jefferson. He was a visionary as well as an agronomist (my college degree). He loves politics as well as gardening and animal husbandry. Just seems to be a gifted man whether being cerebral or digging his hands in the dirt.
- Pat Conroy. One of my favorite authors. His settings and characters are remarkably crafted. I’d want to know the origins of some of this characters and how he perceives his dysfunctional rearing impacted his writing. I’ve heard him speak several times, but the social upper echelon always seems to dominate his attentions. Would like to have a drink on my dock with no one around, to hear some of his thoughts without a formal audience.
Avil Beckford: Which one book had a profound impact on your life? What was it about this book that impacted you so deeply?
C. Hope Clark: Sorry – no one book. I’m constantly amazed at new books, and my list changes and changes. The closest I’ve ever come to gushing over a book might be Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy and The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Pat Conroy writes about South Carolina, and I know those back roads and swamps. He writes about tormented people and how they cope, not always in a light-hearted way. Kathryn Stockett wrote about Jackson, Mississippi (near where I was born, where my mother’s family is from) and about how black maids adapted to white women in their 30s, to include taking care of their children. Very good. I know this history, having family that comes from that era, under those conditions. I guess these authors touched upon my own world.
Avil Beckford: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are five books that you would like to have with you and why? Summarize the book in two sentences.
C. Hope Clark:
- The Prince of Tides: A Novel – A young boy, in a dysfunctional family, grows up in the romantic, dark, yet enlightening setting of coastal South Carolina.
- To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition – Two children mature into reality in their hometown that proves to be more than a comfortable place where they were born. It’s centered in the South, where my heart lies.
- Tales of Sherlock Holmes – Various mysteries that entice the reader to learn predominantly through Watson’s eyes how Holmes uses people’s foibles to solve crimes and mysteries.
- The Bible – It’s full of stories from romance to war, with lessons from personal growth to respectful living.
- Gone with the Wind, 75th Anniversary Edition – Who doesn’t know Scarlet O’Hara’s struggles in learning what she really wants and who she really is throughout the Civil War era? This is such a detailed world, painted by Margaret Mitchell, that I could get lost in it and forget I was on the island.
Avil Beckford: What one music CD and movie would you like to have with you (on the deserted island) and why?
C. Hope Clark: Music CD – would have to be either Josh Groban’s first release or Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack. Groban touches me with his rich voice. I can see JC Superstar in my head and can sing all the words. But I could list so many other CDs – Andrew Lloyd Weber soundtracks of any kind, the Doobie Brothers, the Eagles, the Beatles, Eric Clapton.
If you cannot view the YouTube video of Jesus Christ Superstar (Carl Anderson performing), please click here.
Movie – Casablanca
Avil Beckford: What excites you about life?
C. Hope Clark: Discovering what I can do with my talents, discovering people I have something in common with.
Avil Beckford: How do you nurture your soul?
C. Hope Clark: Hands in the dirt, breathing fresh air outdoors. Sitting on the edge of water.
Avil Beckford: If you had a personal genie and she gave you one wish, what would you wish for? Or, if I gave you a magic wand, what would you use it for?
C. Hope Clark: Longer life to experience more of the world.
Avil Beckford: Complete the following, I am happy when…..
C. Hope Clark: Those I love are happy.
How can you use this information? What do you have to add to the conversation? Let’s keep the conversation flowing, please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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