Steffenie Widows lives by her mantra: Dream big! Go for it! A few years ago, she decided to travel the world. Today, she is writing a memoir about how the first trip that changed her life.

We interviewed Steffenie and learned more about this determined writer and her journey towards completing her writing goals.

WYL: Tell our readers more about your story?

Steffenie: I’m writing a travel memoir about a trip to New Zealand I took with one of my best friends from high school. We were both going through a challenging time and needed a reset.

WYL: What made you decide to write about your experiences?

Steffenie: I’ve wanted to write a travel memoir for many years. I’ve been to many places, but the trip the New Zealand was perfect in every way for what I wanted to say.

I love Bill Bryson’s work, especially his style of writing. He goes places, writes about the history, and makes social observations about the environment

I’ve traveled to Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, Canada. I have an environmentalist background, so this is a way for me to raise awareness about the subject.

WYL: Wow. You’re quite the traveler. That gives you a lot of experiences from which to draw. Did you keep a journal?

Steffenie: Yes. A lot of times I would outline the events of the day or take notes about things I saw and did. Most the time I journaled while on the trip, except for the last couple of days because they were very busy. But I made sure to write about those days later when I had time.

WYL: Have you referred to your journal while working on this project?

Steffenie: Yes. I have a pretty good memory, but my journal helps me remember details I might not typically remember such as what I had for breakfast on a particular day.

WYL: Wise writers ask others to read their work. What made you decide to work with an editor? 

Steffenie: One of the items on my bucket list is to write a novel. But I want to write a good book. I’m a perfectionist. If I’m going to publish, I want the book to live up to the story. And an editor is what I need to reach that goal. I am a science writer by profession, and it’s been years since I have taken any English classes. An editor formats the piece for me, which is what I need the most help with.

WYL: How did you learn about Patricia Charpentier?

Steffenie: I earned my undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from Rollins College. I still tutor in their Upward Bound Program. A fellow tutor, who was a friend of mine, was getting her bachelor’s degree in English. Her adviser was Dr. Lezlie Laws. My friend suggested I meet with Lezlie, so I did.

I met with Lezlie a second time with three chapters for her to read. She told me that it wasn’t the writing I needed help with so much as editing. She then suggested I contact Patricia, and here we are.

WYL: Has your writing process changed as you’ve begun working with an editor?

Steffenie: I used to make arbitrary deadlines for myself, which would stress me out. Then I researched writing advice, read about what other well-known authors do.

The main thing I do is write every day. I do need to step back sometimes to gain some perspective about where the story is going, but I make sure I write. I write during my lunch break at work. I go to Barnes and Noble’s and write, sometimes for hours. If I’m not brain dead after work, I write. Honestly, it depends on how much coffee I want to drink. I think the longest writing session for me was twelve hours.

WYL: Twelve hours! That’s a lot of coffee. What advice do you have for anyone working on his/her story?

Steffenie: Everyone has a story. It is their own. If anyone has that dream—go for it. The first draft might be terrible, but that’s where an editor comes in. You can always edit.

WYL: What do you want your readers to take away from your book?

Steffenie: Travel while you’re young. Take risks. Don’t let fear stop you from going after your dreams.

We’re so grateful to Steffenie for taking the time to discuss her writing journey with us. We encourage all our readers to keep working, keep writing. And to take Steffenie’s mantra into your heart: Dream big! Go for it!

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