Monday, January 2, 2012

TAKE TEN: Author Patricia Neely-Dorsey

(REPRINT) Patricia Neely-Dorsey's book Refections of a Mississippi Magnolia was released in 2008 to glowing reviews, and she will be spending her time getting it out to the world in the coming months while writing on her next project. Patricia took out time recently to talk with Conversations about her beginnings as a writer, the book and what keeps her going.

Happy New Year to you, Patricia, and thank you for taking out time to participate in Conversations' "Take Ten". Before we talk about your book Reflections of A Mississippi Magnolia I want you to talk about you. How would you describe yourself and your evolution over the years?
Happy New Year to you, Cyrus, and Thank You for this wonderful opportunity to share with you about my book. In answer to your question, I would say that I have always thought of myself as very interesting and unique. On all of the questionnaires that I ever filled out since I was in grade school, I always described myself as that. Everyone also tells me that I am very funny.. so I guess I am that , too. People are always commenting on how funny some of my poems are. Evolution? Although ,I felt that I really knew myself inside and out and that everything was pretty much set with me, I think a real evolution began in me and with me when I turned 40. All of a sudden, it seemed that I just had all of these new revelations about myself and the world around me. It was like a new lease on life. The forties have truly been fabulous. and very eye-opening thus far. I feel that I know myself so much better and that I am so much more comfortable in the skin I’m in.

Growing up, I believe everyone has a dream about what they see themselves doing. For you how would were you answering the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
As far as what I dreamed of and wanted to be when I grew up , I never really had a realistic, concrete idea of that. In grade school, my idol was Beverly Johnson, one of the first black “supermodels”, so naturally I wanted to be a supermodel …but being 5’6 (not quite tall enough) and living in Tupelo, MS. I started to realize that probably wouldn’t happen ...But, then again, Elvis Presley came from Tupelo…so anything is possible (LOL). Obama validated that for all of us.

Are you surprised at the path your life has taken over the past five years?
I am very surprised at the path my life has taken, especially in the last two years. I wrote my very first poem at the age of 43 (February 2007) and had my first published work (Reflections)the following year (February 2008). Since then, it has been a whirlwind of new opportunities, experiences and adventures. I didn't even know how to log on to the computer and
e-mail until January 2008. I think that there is something to be said about late bloomers. (LOL)

Your poetry book seems to walk us through your life and those who have played a significant part in it. Why did you decide to share your talent with the world now and what led up to the publishing of the book?
Well actually the “talent” is all so new to me and I never wrote them with any intentions of publishing a book. Although I have always loved poetry, I never wrote a poem before 2007..except maybe a haiku that I attempted to write as an assignment in the sixth grade (LOL) I woke up on Valentine’s Day 2007 with this poem swirling around in my head. I got up and quickly scribbled it down. After that first poem, others started to flow in rapid succession.. In a couple of months, I had over 200 poems. A friend of mine encouraged me to publish them and I did. Because of how they were given/“gifted” to me in the manner that they were, I began to think that it was just meant for me to get them out there.

Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia is really a poetic autobiography.. Were you in any way hesitant to share so much of yourself this way?
It’s still very surprising to me when people say that I am sharing so much of myself because the things in the book are stories that I have told and things that I have shared with friends and the people around me over and over for years, just not in written or poetic form. So, I was not hesitant at all to share them with others in my book. It was very natural… just telling my same old stories to a newer, bigger audience (smile)

In your poem Bookworm (p.72) you give us an idea of how the love of words has been passed on through the generations in your family. As you know Mississippi has ranked the highest in the nation when it comes to illiteracy over the past few years. As a wife and mother who understands the pressures that many are dealing with from day to day, how do you think we can begin the journey back to finding time for reading?
I think that it is very important for parents to instill in their child/children a love for reading, for books and for the written word from a very early age. It has always been a tradition throughout my family that children in the family were given a book on any gift giving occasion. Along with any other gift that we might receive from our parents, aunts, uncles we also got a book. I have always made sure that there were lots of age-appropriate books around for my son from the time he was born. The day that he came up to me and said “I just love to read” was one of the best days of my life. I hugged him, and told him, with tears in my eyes, that he had just made his mother very happy. I feel that we must make reading a part of who we are (readers) not just what we do. To me reading is like breathing. You don’t have to ask a person to find time to breathe.. It’s what they do to live.

I found your book to be an easy read that can be gone through in an afternoon, but there are definitely some things in there that you want to not only reread but share with others. That was my personal experience. What was your hope readers would get from your book?
I love when people say my book is an easy read. That is the greatest compliment to me. To be an easy read it has to flow and be enjoyable. When readers read my book ,I want the words to transcend my life and my story and remind /connect them with their own wonderful childhood memories and common life experiences. It is so fulfilling for me to get letters and e-mails that tell me that what the readers have gotten out of the book is not so much about me but about them. One woman who was born and raised in Paris France and of European descent, e-mailed me and said that my Country Life poems really struck a chord with her and reminded her of some of the best memories of her life when she would visit her aunt’s farm in the country. That’s incredible!! As a writer,it is so gratifying to hear of those kinds of connections!

As a first-time author were you prepared for all the work that goes into not only publishing a book but marketing it as well?
I was TOTALLY unprepared. I have been told over and over and have found it to be true.. The REAL work of publishing a book is not in the writing or publishing but in the marketing and promoting. It can all be very overwhelming! It is vital to have good people around you who know the business for direction, advice, resources and pointing you in the write direction . Networking is KEY!!

Using your own experience as a guide, what advice would you give others who are thinking of birthing their own literary work?
I always emphasize what I call Patricia’s P-Attitudes..1) Positivity- be positive, believe in yourself and your book, 2)Persistence-Be relentless. Never take “NO” as a final answer. Keep knocking. If you can’t get in through the door, go in through the window. 3)Perseverance-Never give up 4) Patience. .Hold on. Hold tight. Sometimes, the answer or outcome that you seek might take a minute ( days, weeks or months) but keep the faith. It will come.

Thank you again for giving us a few minutes to discuss your beginnings as a writer. If our readers want to find out more about you, how can they find you online?
Thank you so much for providing this opportunity to connect with readers. My website is or they can Goggle my name Patricia Neely-Dorsey and find more about the book and some of the social networking sites I am involved in.

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pure snow said...
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