At the heart of facing a challenge, I think there is discomfort, but those same challenges sometimes offer an opportunity. You must look for it.
Heroes live among us. We find them working hard every day to inspire, create, and share love and light with the world around them.
At Westwind, we're highlighting these everyday heroes - the people who inspire us and make our world a more beautiful place to live.
In this #SunsetChasersSpotlight, we're featuring Hawaii Author, Teacher, Entrepreneur, and all-around amazing human- C.L. Walters.
We know you'll fall in love with her gift for storytelling and her heart for others, just like we did. Here's Cami!
Tell us a little about yourself and your career.
What was one of the biggest challenges in your journey to become an author?
I wrote for many years, followed the traditional path of trying to find an agent and querying to publishing houses. I faced rejection after rejection, twenty years of it. Going through that process was heart wrenching because external validation of my art was nonexistent. Sure, family and friends expressed their support and enjoyment, but industry gatekeepers didn’t see value in what I was offering. I continued writing, but I stopped seeking publication, my insecurities finally louder than my hard-headed tenacity. I didn’t stop writing, however. A few years later, I crawled out from my cave and thought: Maybe I could try again, and I did. I submitted Swimming Sideways to another round of agents and editors and faced another series of rejections. Rejection has the power to be debilitating, but one voice—a fellow author—asked, “Why isn’t this published?” I shared my story, and he said, “Maybe you should try independent publishing. This is too good not to be out there.” It was like a lightbulb was turned on and I opened the door to that road. At the heart of facing a challenge, I think there is discomfort, but those same challenges sometimes offer an opportunity. You must look for it.
What has being an Author taught you about yourself and others?
I’ve learned so much on this independent author journey. That I CAN write a story. That I CAN create something of value to another person. That I CAN jump hurdles that I face even though they are difficult. That I CAN be patient, persistent, and resilient. Perhaps these Little Engine that Could moments were present in the spaces of my personality, but being an author brought them forward. I’ve also learned how supportive other artists and writers are. That while writing is solitary, I’m not alone in the process. This community is beautiful.
What is your proudest moment?
So many, but probably when I rebranded The Cantos Chronicles: Swimming Sideways, The Ugly Truth and The Bones of Who We Are. When I first released them, I made a bunch of mistakes and despite those mistakes, I was garnering amazing feedback about the stories. People reached out to tell me how much the story meant and how important reading those stories were to their own journey. So, facing those mistakes I made to get the stories into more hands, I embarked on an independent author crash course in trying to figure it all out. The outcome created what The Cantos Chronicles are now, and the follow up, The Stories Stars Tell which made me feel like I’d really come so far as an author.
Any advice for others looking to achieve their dreams?
First, don’t give up. Second, “do not despise small beginnings,” (Zecheriah 4:10) so be patient and persistent. There is beauty in the journey and so many lessons to learn along the way. We don’t know how those lessons will impact the next phase of the journey, so take them in, learn from them, be thankful for them and grow.
What are some of the big themes/issues you like to tackle in your books?
I tackle a lot of topics, many of them darker themes dealing with mental health, unhealthy relationships, dysfunction, choices that negatively impact self and others, but my work always looks for the light in those darker themes. My stories seek the frame of redemption. This is perhaps because of my own faith walk, but also because I think this is what we long for as people. Most stories present the hero who finds a way to win despite the obstacles, because as humans we want the reassurance that even in the darkness, we can find a way out. So while my stories might take readers into dark place, I won’t leave them there.
One of Westwind’s Apparel Designs was based off your book, Swimming Sideways. Tell us a little about the story behind the inspiration for that book? What does ‘Swimming Sideways’ mean to you?
Living on an island surrounded by the ocean means that the sea is integral in daily living. As my children grew up, we spent more time at the ocean, and as someone who was raised landlocked, I had a lot to learn about it. A friend born and raised in Hawaiʻi shared with me that as a child she learned that if she were ever caught in a rip current, that instead of fighting it, she needed to swim sideways through it to find the way out. It was a lesson in the life and death of the ocean, but that wisdom stuck with me. It felt like a metaphor for life.
In Swimming Sideways, Abby feels stuck in the rip, being dragged out into the unknown sea of her move to Oregon, to strange ways of being and knowing, to trying to hide from mistakes she’s made, to a family falling apart. She must make choices that will either reinforce the current dragging her out where she will eventually tire and drown, or she can swim sideways, find her way out and live. I think we can all relate when the chaos of life hits, navigating our way out of those sometimes-strong currents that threaten us.
What are your passions? How do you give back?
I love working with teens. I was an educator for over twenty years before pursuing my writing career. I love working with teens, teaching and trying to help them find their own creative voices. I enjoy working with our local high schools and libraries to work with teens interested in learning more about reading, writing and harnessing their own creative voices.
What’s next? What are your big dreams?
Keep writing and publishing. I have my sixth and seventh books coming out this fall and a resource book for other independent authors interested in support through the publishing journey. I suppose my dream would be for my work in bookstores because that’s how widely the work is being shared. To see strangers reading my books and sharing them with others because that’s how much the story; that one day, this small independent author could stack up to the traditionally published titles. Maybe even to see one of them developed into a TV show or a movie. A girl can dream right?
Follow along with C.L. Walter's journey, and be sure to check out her newest books,
The Stories Stars Tell & In the Echo of This Ghost Town
LinkedIn: CL Walters
Goodreads: CL Walters
Facebook: CL Walters