Welcome to Wonderful Women, my regular interview feature which celebrates all the kick-ass, talented ladies across the world!
This week, I’m chatting to writer Linda Formichelli, who has written for over 150 magazines since 1997, including Family Circle, Redbook, Health, Pizza Today, WebMD, and Writer’s Digest.
She’s also the author of the new book How to Do It All: The Revolutionary Plan to Create a Full, Meaningful Life — While Only Occasionally Wanting to Poke Your Eyes Out With a Sharpie.
Linda lives near Raleigh in North Carolina with her ballet-dancing son, writer-husband, exchange-student, and three rescue cats. She’s into yoga, manga, military sci-fi, self-help, and tea.
Describe a typical day for you?
A question that sounds easy but is so, so hard! I tend to jump from project to project and don’t much like schedules, but I guess the most typical day for me would look like this:
- Pop awake at 6 am even though I was hoping to sleep in for once. (Why does that keep happening?)
- Have a cup of tea and listen to a podcast or read a book. I try not to look at email or the news first thing, but after I’m fully awake I often look at my daily news roundup email from TheSkimm.com.
- Our 7-year-old, T-Man, tromps down the stairs and I sigh inwardly that “me time” is over, even though I’m always very happy to see my little boy.
- Make T-Man a cup of mint or chamomile tea, then make him some breakfast. Hover over him saying, “Hey, can you start eating, please?” until I give up and send him upstairs for a shower. Then, prepare his school lunch.
- My husband, Eric, drives T-Man to school and I make myself breakfast. I’m about 80% Paleo because that eating plan helped bring my pre-diabetic levels of blood sugar down to normal. So breakfast most likely consists of hard-boiled eggs, potatoes fried in coconut oil and Kerrygold butter, and fruit. (Sorry, I will not give up my potatoes.)
- Get to work. Depending on the projects I have on my plate that week, I might be interviewing someone for an article or being interviewed myself, writing a guest post, working on an article, responding to e-course students, or conducting phone mentoring sessions with writers. My husband also works at home — he’s the news editor for a board game website — so we’re often yelling back and forth from our respective workspaces all day long.
- If it’s Friday, that’s my admin Day. Every task that doesn’t forward my goals or count towards paying work, and can be put off without the Earth imploding, goes here…like paying bills, returning non-urgent emails, hiring contractors, and so on.
- Often, I’ll have lunch out with a friend or my mom, and cobble together a Paleo-as-possible meal from the menu offerings.
- If it’s a Tuesday, yoga with my personal yoga instructor.
- Our exchange student gets home from school at 2:30 (unless she stays for track and needs a ride home later).
- Shut my laptop and pick up T-Man from school at 3pm. Hang out with him, and our exchange student (unless she’s practicing violin or doing homework), until it’s time for one of T-Man’s dance classes (which he has four days per week). T-Man goes to a Montessori school, which means no homework…which is just the way we like it.
- Drop T-Man off at the dance studio, and zoom over to a nearby café to have an iced rooibos tea and do a little extra work.
- Pick up T-Man at the studio and drive home. By now, my husband should have dinner going.
- While dinner is cooking, walk around the track that’s next door to our house.
- Watch a movie or The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt while we eat dinner. Yes, our 7-year-old watches it too.
- I clean the kitchen while Eric gets T-Man ready for bed. I go upstairs and talk about the day with T-Man for a few minutes, then Eric reads him a story and he (hopefully) goes to sleep.
- Read and/or meditate in bed until I fall asleep.
- Get up to pee two or three times.
- What, it’s 6 am again?
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
Making it through a grad school with a part-time office job plus 40 hours of homework weekly…adopting an amazing kid…visiting six countries with my family in the last six months (we’re in Japan right now, and leaving for China tomorrow!)…writing and producing a 220-page self-help book in four months…writing for over 150 magazines since 1997…learning seven foreign languages (many of which I’ve forgotten, but I still want the credit)…and hosting 14 exchange students since 1998.
What’s in your handbag?
Right now? Oh, boy. I’m carrying:
- T-Man’s iPad for long subway rides.
- A black-and-yellow flowered wallet.
- Brochures for Yoyogi Park.
- My iPhone. If you open it up and fire up Safari, you’ll find a (dirty) Harry Potter fan fiction I’ve been reading. (I’m a big Snape fan.)
- My press badge for the Tokyo Game Market, where T-Man and I helped Eric hand out flyers and take photos for his employer.
- Pink lipstick that I bought after reading How to Not Look Old, but rarely wear because I hate the feel of stuff on my lips.
- A “Tokyo and Surrounding Areas” Rail Map
- A Kindle Paperwhite, which I bought specifically because I can’t access email or the Internet on it. (Well, I could if I really tried but it’s too difficult to be worth the effort.)
- A foldable hairbrush with a mirror inside.
- A small spiral notebook that has my name printed on the front, the phrase “Do what you love to do,” and, in small letters underneath my name, the words “Renegade Writer Press Notes” and “Beeyotch.” This is a joke between myself and my business partner.
- A blue Precise V5 Pilot pen. (The only kind I use! We stocked the house with them and dumped all the inferior pens.)
- Blistex ointment.
- A packet of facial tissue.
What are your ambitions in life?
To stay active and be calm, joyful, and happy — and to help others do the same. Why active? As a 47-year-old woman with a 7-year-old kid, it’s key that I stay healthy enough to keep up with him. It’s not always easy with all those middle-age health problems that can creep up on you.
My core values right now are freedom and fun, learning and education, and health. I’m always coming up with wacky plans for the future (like an invention I’m working on with a local medical products developer), but try to make sure they are in line with these values. For example, we’ve been doing a lot of traveling because it helps T-Man learn about the world, and also because it’s fun. And the reason I work so hard and am always producing is that the income helps pay for T-Man’s elementary school and dance school, fitting the “learning and education” value.
Finally: I’ve always, always wanted to learn to play the drums. We just took a Taiko drumming lesson yesterday here in Tokyo, and I loved it so much, it rekindled that desire. I’ve searched for drum lessons for adults in my area and not seen anything that looked interesting, but now I plan to see if there are any Taiko lessons anywhere in the region.
What advice would you give your pre-baby self, that you now know?
Forget being “logical.” Kids don’t care if something supposedly can’t be done. T-Man’s summer plans are to start a brick-and-mortar joke shop called “Hilarious House,” create a website to sell his artwork, build a two-story playhouse in the backyard, create a Minecraft movie with real actors, and write and produce a book that’s a whole lot like Harry Potter but with himself as the main character.
I’ve given up trying to think of ways to gently tell him, “You need more than $108 to start a shop” and “We don’t have a good spot in the backyard” and “In no way am I hiring a cover artist to design the cover for your new book” — and started brainstorming ways to make these plans happen in a way that makes T-Man happy. He has plenty of realistic ideas when I ask, like using stock art for his book or buying a “floor plan” app to start designing the shop.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I truly have no idea! If you had told me five years ago I’d be traveling the world with my son, that my husband would have the job of his dreams (I already had mine), and that we’d be living where we do (which we hated the first time we visited), I would never have believed it. We tend to play it by ear, and make changes where we need to, so our lives are constantly evolving.
What advice would you give a budding writer?
Don’t let rejection get you down. If you’re trying hard enough, you WILL experience it. The mediocre-but-persistent writer is always going to be more successful than the great writer who gives up too soon. That’s why you’re always picking up magazines or books and saying, “How did this writer ever get published?
Finally, happiness is…
Okay, I know that sounds weird. But I’ve discovered that we need to have a sense of control over our surroundings and circumstances in order to be happy. I understand that we truly don’t control anything in life — heck, a natural disaster could come along and wipe everything out in five minutes — but we need to do what we can to foster a sense of autonomy over our lives.
That might mean finally getting that will drafted up, setting up a backup system for your laptop, getting life insurance, or taking charge of your health instead of constantly moaning about your aches and pains. There are lots of ways to maintain a sense of control that will help you feel happier with your life.
Also, make sure you head to Linda’s website The Renegade Writer.