Interview With Author Lynda McKinney Lambert

Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

Some people said, “I loved your book but I really was sat at the end of it.”

I asked, “why?” I was surprised and certain did not want anyone to feel so sad when reading my book.

They said, “I never wanted it to end.”

Oh, that was different, I thought. That is ok.

Others told me, “When I am reading your work, it seems like I entered into a beautiful dream.” This is the ultimate positive response that I love to get from my readers.

I am western Pennsylvania author, Lynda McKinney Lambert, and I love to hear comments like this from my readers. I’ve asked myself; how does this happen that I get such positive responses to my writing? I write with a focus on contemporary poetry and non-fiction essays.

My themes are inspired by nature, dreams, prayers, history, fine arts, and my personal commitment to Christian faith. I believe words are powerful. I believe that all words carry tremendous power. They have power to uplift and encourage and enlighten. And, they also have power to destroy, depress, and crush others. My intention is to write the words that bring positive changes and lift people up and be encouraged.

I have 2 published books:

Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems, DLD Books, 2017.

This book is a journey through a year, from January through December.

The book has a chapter for each month of the year; 27 essays and 16 poems.

My inspiration for this book developed over a 7-year period. I did not realize I was writing a book for quite some time. At first, I started writing a blog which I called, “Walking by Inner Vision.” I gave my blog this name because I had lost my sight in 2007, and by 2009 I was able to use a computer again after 2 years of intensive rehabilitation training. In fact, I learned to do the most basic and simple things that we all take for granted. Everything in my life had to be re-learned. So, I had to learn to walk by “inner vision” rather than sight.

Eventually I realized I had enough material to begin to compile a series of essays and poems into a book. I wanted this to be a book that a reader could leave on the night stand or coffee table, so that they could read it in little snippets and fragments of time.

One reader told me she likes to read a little bit of my book every night, because it brings her peace after a busy day. I love that idea.

My First book was written and published 5 years before my sight loss.

Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage, Kota Press, 2002.

I wrote this book over several summers while teaching and living in the Salzburg, Austria area where I taught a course called, “Drawing & Writing in Salzburg.” Students joined me for a month-long course and traveled with me to a variety of other European countries on the weekends.

This is a book of poetry, historical notes, and essays which I compiled from my travel journals, drawings.

When I taught at Geneva College, in Beaver Falls, PA, I wrote this book as part of my tenure project for tenure and promotion. In addition to writing and publishing the book, I created an art exhibition with work I completed each summer in Austria. Some of the drawings I did on location while traveling, became illustrations in the book. One of my collage paintings done at the Mirabell Palace Gardens, became the cover for the book.

How do you deal with creative block?

Creative block is something I’ve never experienced. I am a Type A personality who sets goals and works to achieve them. I am goal oriented and able to keep my focus on the end results I want to have.

I believe it is because of my extensive academic background in Fine Arts and Humanities. In the beginning of my academic training, I was a BFA student in painting. We learned early on in our studies that we were craftsmen, and we had a job to do. We learned to show up for work every day and be at our easels in order for the muse to arrive. This practice of working on a regular schedule carried over into my professional life as an artist and a professor of fine arts and humanities. To not work was never an option. I had exhibitions to prepare for at museums and galleries, and I worked diligently to have the paintings completed on time for each show.

I am this way with my writing. I select places where I want my work published, and I commit to doing the work. I decide what book I am going to write, then I create an outline and time frame to get the work done and off to the publishers on time.

As a fine artist, I always worked on a series of art works. I envision a body of work on a museum wall, and I set out from the beginning to create that body of work I’ve envisioned.

I do the same with my writing. I create a series of works that will be a collection in a new book.

Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

In my classrooms at the college, I expected students to work towards coming up to my level of expectations, and not the other way around. I planned my courses and set my standards for each course very high. Education is about learning and stretching, and it requires intensity and self-motivation. I am definitely not of the school of thought that says a writer should not have words in their work that require a reader to look them up in a dictionary. My question about this thought would be: to what lower level of standards should we be willing to drop to? No. We will not lower our professional standards, but we will continue to produce excellent work that will be appreciated and celebrated.

My writing reflects who I am and how I see the world. I use the words that are necessary, in my mind, to convey what I see, feel, smell, touch, taste and remember. My greatest desire would be for the reader to learn a new word or two, or have some new thoughts on a higher level so that they can actually learn. I do not write to a reader’s expectations but I write to my own standards. I’ve learned over my career that my audience will find me and I don’t need to drop my standards to satisfy a reader who is unable to stretch her imagination.

What are your plans for future books?

Currently, my 3rd book is at the editors. The working title for this new book is

Star Signs: New & Selected Poems.

My inspiration for the book’s title comes from Genesis 1:14 which is the creation story in the first chapter in the Holy Bible. I used a direct quote from this story, and created a four-part collection of poems. The book is approximately 80 poems. Many of the poems have been previously published. The poems span from early ones I created in graduate school in the late 80s, to new poems I’ve completed in the past year.

The book opens with the poem, Star Signs, from which the book title came. But the origin of the star signs, is found in that chapter of Genesis, originally. The book is not about astrology, but about creation and life from my Judeo-Christian worldview.

Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

I am a Renaissance Woman, in the sense that I work across disciplines in my Career and in my creative life. My degrees are an unusual mix.

I hold a BFA and MFA Painting, and a MA in English.

I don’t believe in Plan B.

I think Plan B is the most dangerous thing possible and will ruin the career of talented individuals by allowing them to settle for far less in life than what they are capable of.

I urged my students to understand what they have a passion for and trust in their abilities move onward on the path they envisioned for themselves.

I’ve never considered setting my sights on Plan B in Case Plan A did not work out. I think that is a foolish thing to do because if you plan to have a back-up plan, then you will never achieve your heart’s desire – which is Plan A.

I knew that I never wanted to be a teacher on the 1-12 level – never! So, I never took a single course in the Education department during all my years of academic studies. I planned to be excellent and at the top of the game in Painting and in Literature – and this was my sole focus.

My goal was to be a College Professor.

Everything I did, was aimed at taking me to that goal of being a college professor. As it turned out, this is exactly what the college wanted – someone who could teach across disciplines in an inter-disciplinary program If I had not earned my degrees in both Fine Art and English, I would never have landed the job of my dreams. This combination of studies gave me the cutting edge over the other candidates.

I knew from the first day of my freshman classes that I would be a college professor. When one professor looked at me that first week of school, she asked, “And, what will you do with this degree?” My response was immediate: “I am going to be a college professor.”

She replied, “I believe you will.”

Do you have any creativity tricks?

Fortunately, I don’t have any tricks.

I think my advice is to stay focused and put in the hours of work that it takes to write a book, if that is your goal.

Pay attention to what is going on around you.

It is the mundane and everyday activities that will be where you find your stories and your poems. Write down the things you notice. No matter how little they might be.

They might be a diamond in the rough.

Look for the hidden gems that you see and hear every day. Write them down.

Develop them. It’s really about keeping your focus on your intentions and doing the labor to bring it to completion.

I do collect stones and rocks and gems though. That’s what is in my bag!


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