[Interview] Taylor DiVico, author of ‘Existing the Moments’


Taylor DiVico was born in Syracuse, New York.

She has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from the University of Rhode Island and a Masters Degree in Education from Syracuse University.

Her books include Existing the Moments (Dorrance Publishing Company, 2008), a novel — and Vast and Hazy, a collection of poems that is due to be released in 2009.

In this email interview, Taylor DiVico talks about her concerns as a writer.

How would you describe your writing?

I would describe it as meaningful and hopeful in terms of it being relative to people’s lives and experiences.

Also, it is controversial and thought-provoking because it does push limits and ask the reader to contemplate and suspend a certain disbelief in the accepted norm, to philosophize, and to walk away with the idea that life is a vat of endless possibilities.

Who is your target audience?

I don’t write with the intent of having a target audience.

I think people from all walks of life can relate to certain scenarios or characters within my books. I do feel that my writing can be taken on various levels of thinking or open-mindedness.

My goal is for it to be universally enjoyed.

Who influenced you most?

It’s hard to pinpoint one influence because I’m an avid reader. I laugh with the cynics and cry with the saints, and my own writing seems to fit somewhere within the gray area of that pretense.

I’m most influenced by those philosophers and writers that have made me question. To name a few… John Irving, Ayn Rand, Dan Brown, Simone de Beauvoir, Jack Kerouac… and the infinite list goes on.

How have your personal experiences influenced your writing?

I think just having so many experiences with the abundance of traveling and moving that I’ve done, combined with the amazing people I’ve met along the way has given me vast material and characteristics to ponder and create with. I have this bond with life and trying to really understand it and live it well, which I tend to analyze through certain characters or events in my books.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

My biggest fear is that I won’t be able to have my passion be my career and as a result, will live some tortured, angsty existence filled with cynical banter, multiple cats, and dimmed lighting.

I jest, kind of.

I have many concerns, some vain, some not. I deal with them by pushing myself really hard, by self-promoting, by not limiting myself to only writing novels, and by listening to feedback.

In the end, I hope people can connect to the story and get something out of it that will positively affect them, whether it is the entertainment value of a book or a new perspective on life.

What are the biggest challenges that you face?

The biggest challenges I have are focusing ones.

At times, I just have too much going on at once and I get overwhelmed, which generally leads to my mind shutting down and blocking anything worth writing.

I deal with it by forcing myself to relax. Usually exercise helps me, but sometimes I just need to plop in front of the T.V. to zone out and get my mind to stop racing against time.

When did you start writing?

I loved writing from a really young age. It had always been a passion of mine, but I came into my own as a philosophy major, most likely as a result of having to explore so many in-depth concepts. Writing allowed me to understand and meditate on what I was learning.

A few years later, I subconsciously began sculpting and crafting my own style of fiction with philosophy as an ongoing backdrop.

Oddly, I hadn’t thought about being published until Existing the Moments was finished. I was wrapped up in the writing of the story to the point that making it available to the general public hadn’t crossed my mind.

When it was complete, I felt a bit sad that the journey was over. I suppose that in order to keep the story alive, the next step (publishing) was inevitable. I went about it at the coaxing of friends and family, naively — being that I knew nothing about the process itself.

I started by buying the Writer’s Market books and studied how to write queries to agents and such. Then, I blasted out a bunch of queries for the next year or so, to no avail.

At a pivotal point of discouragement, I was contacted by a subsidy publisher and decided to go forward with them a year after the initial contact, working three jobs at one point to bring my book to fruition. I figured I would make my writing my own business and put all of myself into it, which has proven to be the right decision thus far.

Do you write everyday?

I try to write something every day, whether it is part of a novel, an article, or a music review.

My novel sessions are the most ritualistic ones, and start out with my coffeemaker, late-night hours, and adrenaline.

I go into my office after having everything else that could be a distraction out of the way (cleaning, paying bills, walking the dogs etc…) and then I just get into the zone. It could last for ten minutes or hours on end. I never break out of the zone until that exact moment that I know I’m done.

Likewise, I try not to force a chapter out because it usually ends up getting tossed or completely rewritten anyway.

How many books have you written so far?

In Existing the Moments (Dorrance Publishing Company, 2008), a determined young artist, Maria struggles to make sense of what her life has become. As she faces unbearable losses in her life, her memories save her from falling apart. For what is a memory, but a piece of the soul that remains when all else is lost?

Existing the Moments is glorious and tragic — full of the delights of living, but also the desperation of the wounded spirit. As she replays the little factions of time that make up the filmstrip of her life, she sees those moments through her memories and rediscovers a life and love that can be compared to no other.

Which aspects of the work that you put into the book did you find most difficult?

My strength is that I’m creative, making the writing of a book much less daunting than the promoting and publishing of it.

I find the publishing part to be the most difficult because I’m not a business-minded person and I don’t enjoy trying to play the part. I just feel that having to handle the business end takes up precious hours of writing time.

It’s just not realistic to think that I could be whisked away to a far-off place with only a laptop, so I deal with the reality of being my own business by trying to learn the ins and outs of promotion and publishing, and by reminding myself that this is an all-encompassing job and it’s all or nothing. Then, I throw myself into it. Time is always fleeting, though.

This is a difficulty I’ll forever be plagued with.

Which aspects of the work did you enjoy most?

I enjoy the writing and creating aspect of my work the most. I’m generally at ease and balanced when I’m writing fluidly. Nothing makes me happier than typing away and then backtracking and editing days later to really clean up the thought or chapter. I get really involved in the story and the dimensionality of my characters.

I like picking out suitable names for characters and ways for them to interact with regard to their philosophies and traits. I think I appreciate this most because I have these tireless creative juices flowing, and I need to be able to direct them and put them to use. Otherwise, I feel miserable and grumpy, and kind of useless when I’m uninspired.

Getting into your own head to come up with a story is both cumbersome and fruitful. I appreciate both circumstances.

Writing is the great joy of my life. It defines me, in a sense.

What sets the book apart from other things you’ve written?

I think Existing the Moments is distinguishable in its raw telling of the basic human emotions that we all experience at one point or another in life… love, pain, anger, loss, happiness, cynicism, idealism… they’re all there in a sort of Ying and Yang tale about a person struggling to understand life itself and the hand she’s been dealt.

Existing the Moments stands alone as my only novel written in first-person point of view. I thought it necessary to have the book simulate the memoirs of main character, Maria Vittalini, that this would allow readers to really connect and feel on a deeper level. It’s a very special book, maybe because it’s my first, but more likely because of its exploration.

In what way is it similar?

Well, everything I write has a sort of dramatic flair and closeness to life with lots of human interaction and philosophy. Existing the Moments is like the poster-child for my non-linear writing style and use of philosophical themes.

Also, it really highlights the dimensionality of characters, which is a common feature of my books.

What will your next book be about?

Probably, a book of poetry will be next in line at the request of my eighty-one year old grandmother who has been begging me to publish my poems.

I have this compilation of poems, some that have been published in anthologies and such.

In addition, I have lots of awesome photos from my many travels, so I’m currently working on putting it all together in one nature-esque book of prose. After that… well, I am currently working on three new novels, one which is almost finished. I can’t be sure which will be the first released, so we’ll all just have to wait and see.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

My most significant achievement is the completion of my first book. While the publishing of it was great and all, the actual writing of the last page was beyond words. It was like the end of a soul-searching journey.

I was overcome with emotion and after that, a sense of happiness in knowing what I was destined to do with my life. I found what makes sense to me in this life and it begins and ends with writing.

More at Conversations with Writers.

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