After decades of writing, teaching, editing, and mentoring, how could Leonard Judge not have interesting things to say about his illustrious career? Now more than ever, through advances in technology, we can share wisdom with people across the world in a matter of minutes. And who better to unveil the secrets of a successful writer’s journey than a man whose words have touched millions of hearts and inspired so many young minds?
Q: When/how did you discover your passion for writing?
A: I think I have always been a writer. I won a class Christmas story writing contest in Grade 7, and since then, that has been my goal, and my passion. I studied drama and English at Queen’s, and was lucky enough to have some poetry published in the student newspapers over my years there.
Q: What was your greatest achievement as an author? As a teacher?
A: Achievement is always in the eyes of the beholder, but I think I am most happy with the fact that I have managed to earn a decent, not extravagant, but liveable wage for nearly 36 years, by getting words to flow out of the ends of my fingers and onto the page, and now, the screen. As far as books or projects completed, I would have to say that I am most happy with my work on the three One Story a Day collections. When I think about millions of kids in China, Vietnam, and various places around the globe reading these simple stories, I feel pretty good about that.
Q: What is the hardest part about being an editor? A writer?
A: Probably the most difficult thing about making a living as a writer is getting up every day and sitting down in front of the computer or notepad. It’s the same problem for anyone who works alone from home most days — it’s up to you to actually get it started and then seeing it through to the end. The first draft is always the hardest. I love what follows though — the editing, polishing, and improving.
Q: Where do you find your inspiration for writing?
A: This depends on what kind of writing you are talking about. For journalism and non-creative writing, it’s simply a matter of finding the subject, doing the interviews, making sense of it all, and then putting it down in a way that people will want to engage with. Fiction is different, but some of the above still applies. You need to have a perspective from which to view the subject, whether it is a flower tossed in the sun by a hungry bee, or a character in a story. And you need to find a new or different way of making your readers appreciate the little nugget of truth that should be there in any well-made story.
Q: Do you have any regrets in regards to your career?
A: Without regrets, there would be no inspiration for future endeavours. I have many of those of course. The main one I think would be to not have worked harder, longer, and with more intense focus.
Q: What is your best advice for kids just starting to develop their passion for writing?
A: My best advice to a young person just developing his or her skills as a writer is neither original nor difficult. Read, read, read. Write, write, write. And if you know you are a writer, then you definitely already are.
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