Blake Kimzey founded and directs Writing Workshops.com and Writing Workshops Paris and is a co-founder of The Big Texas Read. He has been awarded fellowships to attend the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and the Vermont Studio Center and received a generous grant from Americans for the Arts Foundation. Kimzey is the author of the book Families Among Us.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in a small Texas town of 1,200 people and spent most of my time roaming the great outdoors with my brothers, where my imagination could run wild. My mother died when I was just 10. We were already a close family, but after she died we became, even more, close-knit. Her death has shaped my life in the sense that I don’t take anything for granted. Losing her so young influenced my decision to follow my passion because I know all too well that you only get one shot and that this life is beautiful.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
That the process is the teacher. You have to learn by doing and that failure is an essential step along a winding and rewarding path to success.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
As a writer, I hate the expression Write what you know. Sure, write what you know, but also write what you want to know.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
Losing my mother to breast cancer when I was 10 made me realize that tomorrow is never promised. A valuable, if hard lesson to learn at such a young age. As an adult, I wrote my first novel, found an agent, and the book didn’t sell. That was a hard pill to swallow, and humbling, but I’m a better writer because of it and more prepared for success as a result. I’ve learned that if you’re lucky tomorrow will come, you’ll get another chance, and the future is in your hands. But you must be prepared. Those sound like cliches, and they are, but that doesn’t make them any less true. The real trick is not giving up, and I’ve learned your failure resume is just as important as any amount of success you enjoy. You can’t have one without the other.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
What is your morning routine?
We have young kids, so we wake up early, before sunrise, and get breakfast going and everyone where they need to be for the day. My wife is an artist, and so we both know the value of uninterrupted work, and so we don’t waste any time getting going.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
I love practicing gratitude each day. It helps me see blessings right in front of me and be mindful and thankful for who I get to spend my life with my wife and three kids. Gratitude begets joy, and there is no substitute for that. My gratitude allows me to see I’m living a life of my own design, with the people I hold dearest, and that keeps me going on the days when the work is tough.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I like to work on creative projects in the morning when I’m most fresh, and have coffee close by. I reserve the rest of the day for phone calls, emails, and strategy/planning for my business, WritingWorkshops.com.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Writing Workshops are for writers who want to strengthen their voice, develop a greater understanding of craft, and forge a path to publication along the way. With the current pandemic, we have Moved All of Our Classes Online and created a virtual book club called The Big Texas Read. In these uncertain times, our mission remains the same: to bring your writing out of the wilderness and into the community. We offer writing courses, seminars, and individual consultations to fiction writers, nonfiction writers, poets, and screenwriters. No matter the stage of your career, there is a place for you at Writing Workshops. Our classes are inclusive and intentionally small, offered on a rolling basis throughout the year, and taught by award-winning authors. Our programs have been featured in Poets&Writers, Book Riot, Forbes, The Dallas Morning News, San Francisco Chronicle, D Magazine, KERA Art&Seek, and elsewhere. You can Browse All Classes Here.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
When I was in 6th grade I stayed home with strep throat and read Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. That novel made me want to be a writer. Reading A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken just after I got married reminded me to cherish those closest to me, especially my wife, and now, my three children.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
Comparison is the thief of joy and Treat others as you want to be treated.