Tamara Norman: “Believe in yourself”

I want our young readers to embrace what’s unique about themselves. I want them to understand that everyone is special in their own way and even though our abilities may vary from one another, it doesn’t make anyone better than someone else. Explore and find what you’re good at then work hard to become the […]

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I want our young readers to embrace what’s unique about themselves. I want them to understand that everyone is special in their own way and even though our abilities may vary from one another, it doesn’t make anyone better than someone else. Explore and find what you’re good at then work hard to become the best you can be with it.

As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tamara Norman.

Tamara Norman is an emerging author and a loving and creative mother and grandmother. She created Tito with the intention of just one bedtime story, but necessity and creativity got the best of her, and she created a vast world and cast of characters for Tito. She also writes other stories and poetry yet to be released.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

I don’t think I can call what I’ve done so far a career just yet, but it was my daughter Deyana that led me to my first story of “Tito The Tortoise”.

At the age of 3 she was diagnosed with brain cancer. She had to spend days, weeks, and sometimes months in the hospital. She was a little nighthawk during those times and would wake up in the middle of the night wanting to play as if it were only 1:00 in the afternoon. The playroom, where the toys and books were, would be closed and the other children in the hospital were all asleep. Therefore, I had to find ways to quietly entertain her until she fell back to sleep. One form of entertainment I tried was making up stories and characters that I felt would resonate with her. She actually enjoyed the stories so much that she began requesting them over and over again. This meant I had to write down each story she liked in order to retell them the same way every time. However, once she got older and less interested in kiddie stories, I just packed them all away and forgot about them.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

Well if we’re still going to call it a career, I suppose the moment I decided to do this was sort of interesting.

In 2014, we were moving to a new residence, and during the packing I ran across all of my stories buried in a storage bin under a bunch of junk. I threw out the junk but held on to the stories just for memory sake or to read to my grandchildren. A friend of mine who was helping me pack saw them and asked to read a few. She really enjoyed them and urged me to find a publisher. I had no time in my life to even consider something like that, nor did I feel my stories were good enough to go that far. Therefore, I just laughed her off, tossed them into another bin with other keepsakes and put it all in the attic.

Then in 2019, we purchased a house and needed to move once more. I began going through boxes and bins again attempting to unload everything unused or unwanted before moving into our new home. I was determined to get rid of even more stuff than I had in the prior move. As I rummaged through everything, I came across the stories I’d totally forgotten about again. Optimism was present when I found them this time because I was retiring. That meant I would now have some free time in my life to take on a new project. I shared the stories with a couple of people whose opinions I value and their feedback was all positive. I was still a little skeptical about taking this on, but I figured if nothing else, it would give me something fun and interesting to do in my newly retired life. So I finally decided what the heck, I’ll go for it!

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?

My biggest challenge was believing in myself. I didn’t feel that my stories were good enough for others to enjoy. I constantly second guessed myself, my writing, and whether I should even go through with this. I received plenty of pep talks from a few people close to me. I know I probably got on their nerves with my wishy washiness about this project. It was like one day I wanted to do it then the next day I didn’t. Finally something happened that got me off my personal rollercoaster. A good friend decided that I should just shut up, sit down, and have my stories read to me. They realized I was my own worst critic, so I needed to listen to the stories as if they weren’t mine at all. Well their strategy worked and I was able to move forward with confidence. So my advice to other up and coming authors would be to get people in your corner that you trust will be honest with you and whose opinions you value.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I think the funniest mistakes I made were on my current book. I started off trying to do everything myself. I thought the editing and the illustrations would be a piece of cake. After all, it was only a children’s book. Boy was I wrong! I was awful in both areas. I admit punctuating has always been a weakness for me. However, I do draw and paint pretty well, but trying to do my own illustrations turned out disastrous. I finally gave up and sought professional help. I’ll never try either of those again.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m actually working on two different projects, both are children’s books. One story is another adventure featuring “Tito The Tortoise” and his friends from the Amazon forest along with a few new characters. The other is a story about a boy named Stevie who only wants to watch television 24/7. I think readers will love both of these stories!

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

There is only one main story in “Tito The Tortoise”. It’s the story of little tortoise in the Amazon forest named Tito who longed to be special. Tito always felt like his friends were better than him because they all had special abilities. So on his birthday, he decides he can no longer take feeling inferior and begins telling his friends some very tall tales in an effort to be special too. But after guilt and reality hit him, he knew he couldn’t keep up with his tales, and rushes to confront his friends with the truth. That’s when Tito learns a valuable lesson about what it really means to be special.

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?

I want our young readers to embrace what’s unique about themselves. I want them to understand that everyone is special in their own way and even though our abilities may vary from one another, it doesn’t make anyone better than someone else. Explore and find what you’re good at then work hard to become the best you can be with it.

Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author”? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Believe in yourself. This was initially a hard thing for me to do but with the support and positive reinforcement of good honest people around me, I overcame.
  2. Believe in your craft. This can be hard to do as well. But sometimes you have to step back, view, and listen to things as if your using someone else’s eyes and ears.
  3. Never be too proud or stubborn to seek help. Trying to take on everything can be overwhelming not to mention time consuming. Know your weaknesses and get the help that’s necessary to avoid wasted time and costly mistakes.
  4. Take your time! The excitement and anticipation of completing your project may sometimes get the best of you. But remember, haste is your enemy and patience is your friend. So unless you enjoy making corrections over and over, slow down and get it right the first time. This was a lesson I learned the hard way.
  5. Have fun! Whether it’s a children’s book or an autobiography, have fun creating it. If you stop having fun, then writing will become just another job. This was my first book and I started off scared and unsure as heck. However, once I was able to get beyond those feelings, I enjoyed every aspect of becoming a new author of a children’s book.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

Since writing children’s stories is what I love doing the most, I believe that keeping the inner child in me alive is the main contributor for that. I don’t think you can truly write a story that appeals to a child without having some childishness in you. My entire family can vouch for my silliness. I also have the knack for making up stories or songs sometimes by just hearing a word or seeing a picture. When my children were younger, they would give me a word just to see if I could make up a song or something with it. There’s not much seriousness or adult like attributes involved in the stories I write. Just plenty of goofiness and a lot of imagination.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

I’m very inspired by literature with moral lessons because I believe having good morals is the number one foundation for raising little people into good big people. I feel that the biggest problems in the world today stem from people being morally empty.

I also draw inspiration from stories in which the underdog shines in the end. I enjoy seeing a character overcome difficult obstacles to become a hero in the end. Those types of stories fill me with so much hopefulness. Lastly, I’m a big fan of fantasy type literature. I think it’s a great way to escape the tremendous amounts of seriousness in everyday life, especially if you’re an adult.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

There are several movements I’d love to start that would bring good to many people. But since you’re only asking for one, it would have to be a movement to end hunger and homelessness. So many people in the world have an over abundance of wealth but then you have people who have absolutely nothing. There’s something very wrong with that picture to me.

*How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram: author_tamara_norman

Twitter: @author_tamara

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