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Creative Spotlight on Andrew McDowell
This Creative Spotlight on Andrew McDowell gives readers a chance to get more of the author and what went into his amazing book, Mystical Greenwood. This author not only created a fantasy world for readers to escape into but frequently has work published on his blog, in magazines, and as short stories. Get to know him here.
Tell our readers briefly about yourself.
Hello. My name is Andrew. I'm an indie author living in Maryland, and I became serious about wanting to write when I was a teenager. The more I committed to writing my first book (which would eventually become Mystical Greenwood), the more I knew there would be no turning back. Since then, I've sought to expand my writing horizons in different forms of writing and learn as much as I can about the craft. At the same time, being diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, showed me how I view the world differently and how my writing style is perhaps different from other people's. I've likewise sought to learn to improve my communicative and social skills.
Can you tell us about your most recent release? Album? Song? Art piece? Etc.?
My most recent releases have been poetry featured in some anthologies and online magazines. These included haiku, sonnets, and Christian-themed poems. I have a short story and another poem coming up in some other anthologies, too, though at this point, I am not sure when they will be published.
What inspires you?
Many things, really. Throughout my life, I've had moments where I've become intensely interested in certain things, which have ranged from animal facts to historical periods and the lives of authors; having specific, intense interests is one symptom of Asperger's. Some of my stories have had their roots in these interests. Other roots include personal experiences that have shaped my outlook on life and which I find full of potential. So there's a lot of variety.
What is your creative work routine like? Do you balance it with another job?
I currently work for a public library system, and in today's world, I'm aware that it's a slim to none chance that I'll ever write full-time. Right now, I try to type a couple hundred words in the morning if I can. What they are in varies from day to day, though I am trying to concentrate on a few projects specifically.
Do you plan out your creations? What is your creative process like?
I'd call myself a plantser who leans toward the pantsing side. This has surprised some people who know and follow me because, in other areas of life, I like to plan things out, and, as someone with Asperger's, I like patterns and routines. But when it comes to writing, this can be stifling creatively should I change my mind. So I try to plant some ideas and see where they grow, and sometimes I don't write consecutively either, so I try to find ways to stitch them together.
Do you have a self-care routine or want to have one? What do you do or wish that you did to take care of your mental health?
Over these past few months, I've been seeking ways to take care of my mental health more. During the COVID shutdown, I found myself spending more time online trying to market what I had but not feeling fulfilled. It felt like social media was controlling me rather than the other way around. So I have started by leaving Twitter, Tumblr, and some other sites, and I'm trying to post less and spend less time on them, though that isn't always easy. I'm also trying to declutter my life digitally and physically, which I hope to continue to do more of.
What is your favorite creation thus far?
Mystical Greenwood, undoubtedly. It is my greatest publication accomplishment to date, and it was actually rereleased last year after the impact of COVID forced its original publisher to shut down.
Are there any recurring themes in your work?
Love of Nature and animals has been a recurring theme, from Mystical Greenwood to a couple of my published short stories.
What does success look like to you?
I feel that success would be people enjoying my work and saying in their reviews how what they read changed their lives/outlooks. I would hope that my stories would, in one way or another, make readers see the world and their own lives in a different light, always for the better.
What has been one of the biggest lessons you've learned since starting this journey? That would be that I don't have to be perfect, and I don't have to get things right the first time. I was a perfectionist, especially when it came to little details, but I lost sight of more important things when it came to the big picture. Typos and word choices rattled me, but I've found that the reading and publishing world, especially with small presses, is forgiving, and it isn't too hard to make little corrections when necessary. Furthermore, in learning that I don't need to be perfect, I've learned that I need to have faith in myself.
What advice would you share with new or aspiring authors/singers/artists/etc?
This is a question I get asked a lot, and the answer is still the same. My father told me that the important thing to remember is to tell a story and to tell it well, and I would tell that to them.
What hobbies do you have?
I collect coins. In the past, I've enjoyed chess and drawing, though I haven't done either in a long time (in-person chess).
Where can our viewers/readers/listeners find you and your work?
My author website is andrewmcdowellauthor.com, and from there, you can find links to all of my published work as well as subscribe to my blog (I post monthly). My site also has links to my YouTube channel and my Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon pages.