Interview with I. Dollar

Today I have the pleasure of introducing I. Dollar, aka Writer Mom, who wrote a very nice post about BetaBooks on Tumblr which has brought a lot of writers to our site. I reached out earlier this year to get to know her and learn about the Tumblr writers community, and she has some great things to say. I'll turn it over to her now.

My name is I. Dollar, but you probably know me better as Writer Mom, or @Writing-In-The-Grave, on Tumblr. You can also find my newly created Twitter account at @writemyepilogue. I'm from Indiana, USA, I write almost exclusively queer fiction, and you can find more about my current projects on my Tumblr.

There's not much else to say about me besides that I want to help other writers in any way I can, and I'm willing to dedicate the time to do it. My inboxes are always open, and I'm excited to hear from you all, even if it's just because you want to gush about your latest project. I'm more than just willing to lend an ear, I want to.

Please tell us about your writing journey. How did you get started, and what motivates you now?

I started my writing journey in middle school, I was a huge bookworm, starting and finishing books in a single day. My teachers used to take my books away from me so I would pay attention, and that didn't make me pay attention at all. All it did was make me start coming up with stories in my head instead of reading other people's stories.

I realized at that point that my stories were full of young queer girls like me, and that I'd never read a book about a girl like me before, but I wanted to, so I wrote one. It was bad, because I wrote it in middle school, and I was just starting out, but a start is a start, and it got me where I am today, so as bad as that story was, and as determined as I am to never let it see the light of day, I'm glad I wrote it.

How did you find your team of beta readers, and how do you foster a sense of community with them?

Before discovering BetaBooks I had a small group of friends beta reading for me, and bless them, they're wonderful people, but every note they gave me was sugar coated enough to give me diabetes, and frankly, if you're getting exclusively positive feedback, then someone is lying is to you. There is always room for improvement. When I realized this method of dealing with beta reading wasn't working, I started seeking out new beta readers, strangers on the Internet who could be more honest with me. That's when I stumbled upon BetaBooks. I decided to give it a try, and I never looked back.

Fostering a sense of community between my readers wasn't difficult when I realized that's something they wanted. It hadn't crossed my mind until one of my readers pointed out that they wanted to be able to interact with their fellow readers and discuss the project together. The "My Groups" options on BetaBooks helped in that regard, but mainly they took it upon themselves to find each other and communicate.

You are a mentor for a lot of young writers through your presence on Tumblr. What is your favorite thing about that?

I got my start on tumblr with a stupid joke, I made a post that said,

"Get off Tumblr, you should be writing," 
And one person replied, "You can't tell me what to do, mom," 
So I said, "Yes I can, son." 

It wasn't my intention to adopt 6,000+ writers online, but they started calling me mom, and I rolled with it. I love being Tumblr's "Writer Mom," because it gives me a chance to give other young writers something I didn't get. My mother wasn't very interested in my passion for writing, matter of fact, she basically ignored it, and because of that I nearly quit several times. I've spent countless hours beta reading for others, talking to followers, replying to questions, and doing everything in my power to be helpful to them so that they'll stick with it.

My goal is not to make them good writers, my goal is to keep them writing long enough to make themselves good writers, because I know they're capable of it, and I don't want them to make the same mistakes I nearly did. I don't want them to quit because they aren't getting the parental support and approval they need. They don't need to be the best writers in the world right now, they'll still learning, and growing, and I'm genuinely honored to be a part of that.

I have a standing offer to all my followers; if I had a positive impact on your writing journey, any positive impact, no matter how small... tell me when you're published. I'll gladly buy a copy of your book, no matter what it's about, because I am so overwhelmingly proud of you for your success. 

After investing so much time and encouragement within that community, is there one bit of wisdom or advice you find yourself sharing most often?

I find myself repeating the same advice a lot, because many of these young writers are worried about the exact same things, which is fine. I'm happy to say it as many times as it needs said. One thing I'm constantly asked is; "Can I still consider myself a writer if ____?" Sometimes it's, "Can I still consider myself a writer if I haven't written anything in four months because my depression got really bad?" or "if I've never been published?" "If I never intend on getting published?"

So many writers are constantly asking themselves if they deserve to call themselves writers, and the answer is always yes. There is no criteria you have to meet to be a writer other than wanting to be. 

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