What it’s Like to be Published

By Mary Cumpston|February 26, 2018Student Writing|

What It’s Like to be Published

Paula Carter

Mary Cumpston

Ever wonder what it takes to be a published author? Ask newly published Paula Carter who was at PCC on Thursday reading works from her flash nonfiction book “No Relation.” I approached Carter after the reading for an interview, in which she told me about her new book and disclosed tips for students who want to write.

“No Relation” is Carter’s accounts of being what she calls an “almost parent,” raising her boyfriend’s two children to whom she is not biologically related to, yet feels a strong connection to. “No Relation” explores the complex dynamics of blended families through the narrative of an almost mother, learning to love her boyfriend’s two sons and experiencing heartbreak when she is separated from the father, therefore his boys.

About her motive to write such a unique point of view on the traditional subject of family, Carter said “I realized so few people were talking about this way in which people are involved with children that are not biological. I was disappointed that there wasn’t anything discussing it in an authentic or honest way. I wanted to shine light on the fact that this is a role many people are in.”

Did Carter’s book successfully bring light to the role of stepparents? Absolutely. “I’ve had people reach out to me since the book was published saying they’ve been in that situation and comment on how the book felt true to their experience,” Carter said. “It was really gratifying.”

Carter’s openness regarding the rarely talked about role of step parents struck the interest of publishers. “The publishing process is quite slow though,” explained Carter. “It took about a year to be accepted.”

Now that Carter can hold her own published book in her hand, she says it feels amazing. “Having a book published makes it feel a little more real. I feel very much that I am a writer and have for a long time, but having a published book solidifies that.”

Since “No Relation’s” exciting publication, Carter’s been in a whirlwind of success, touring with her book and doing readings. She described this experience as getting to “be a part of a community,” adding, “There’s so much shared joy around literature.”

What’s next for this sudden success? Carter is now working on a second book about her great aunts, who lived through the turn of the century. The book will discuss “people choosing to or not to get married, and the changes in culture. These great aunts didn’t marry or married late in life.” She describes this dynamic outside the social norm as “echoing some of the themes in ‘No Relation.’”

My final interview question for Carter was if she had any tips for writers at PCC, to which she responded immediately “Yes!” and went on to say “writing can be a hard road. You need self limitation and to be committed. It is something that if you commit to can bring a lot of joy.” Carter advises aspiring writers never to give up. “Just keep doing it,” she beamed, “in whatever manner you can.”


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