Sunday, July 15, 2012

Following Your Dreams, an interview with writer, Daria DiGiovanni

Daria DiGiovanni

I’ve known Daria for about 5 years. We were both contributing writers to We were fast friends. She had just published her first novel, Watersigns, and I had just published Reptiles.... Her knowledge and passion for politics impressed me.

She was living the life of a typical “struggling writer,” when I met her,  working  several side jobs to make ends meet. Now she spends her days doing exactly what she wants, writing and marketing full-time.

She’s had a lot of successes, made a lot of mistakes, but counts everything as experience. She wouldn’t trade writing for a “normal” career any day.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Lately a typical day consists of planning and executing weekly twitter chats for The Peoples Vote, blogging about the upcoming launch and latest developments with the company (e.g. our upcoming meetings with reps in Washington D.C.),  then putting out the content on all TPV social media platforms (twitter, FB, LinkedIn, etc). I also spend a lot of time reaching out to radio hosts, bloggers and journalists, to book interviews and secure features about the company and its founder Chuck Kirkpatrick. 

I also maintain my own blog where I write about politics, current events, family happenings and other things like book and restaurant reviews. I'm also attempting to finish my sequel to Water Signs, Sea To Shining Sea, and am still stuck in Chapter 5! 

As you can imagine, I probably spend way too much time on the computer! 

But I do find time for Leslie Sansone's 4-mile Walk At Home workout, which keeps me in shape mentally and physically. 

You mention how sometimes you have to do things you don't enjoy to gain experience or exposure [like working for free, working unrelated jobs, etc.]. How do you keep sane when feelings of exhaustion, or under-appreciation creep in? 

Order Water Signs on Amazon
It's not easy but living in South Florida, one of my favorite ways to handle feelings of exhaustion and other negative work-related emotions is to take a drive down A1A and look at the ocean, or just go to the beach. Or the Deerfield Beach Fishing Pier. Even if I don't go swimming or walk directly on the beach, just staring at the ocean calms me down and make me realize that there's a much bigger picture -- a much bigger plan for my life. I am a praying person and looking at the sea always makes me feel closer to God. Swimming in a pool offers the same rejuvenation as I love being in water. Must be the Pisces in me! 

Other than that, daily journaling, praying, meditating and exercising also help. I love to bike ride and power walk, preferable outside but I also love Leslie Sansone's Walk At Home Power Walk DVDs. Her four-mile walk always helps get the adrenaline rushing, which in turn, helps to improve my mood. Plus, it tones muscle....what more could I want! LOL 

You actually picked up and moved from cold Pennsylvania to sunny Florida at a rather young age to make your dreams come true; something not a lot of people could do. Have you always been a risk taker?

It's funny but as a kid I was very outspoken and had no problem expressing myself, possibly because I was the youngest in my family. I used to try to boss my older brothers around, which they always found pretty amusing and dubbed me with the nickname "Mother", which eventually transformed into "Moth" and finally "Muzz" -- a name they still call me to this day! I was tough, unafraid and determined but as I matured and went though the awkward elementary/high school years I lost a lot of that self-confidence mainly due to a persistent weight issue. I was never obese, but had just enough extra poundage to be teased. My close friends and I were never part of the "cool crowd" either and often found ourselves on the receiving end of other kids' cruelty. I never even had a boyfriend in high school or attended my Senior Prom. Ditto for college. So even through college and beyond that lack of self-confidence remained though I eventually overcame it through work experience, self-improvement efforts and family support. 

Tell me a little about your career history. You always wanted to be a writer. What sorts of things, besides writing your book, were you doing before that?

Although I'd been a passionate reader/writer from a very young age, encouraged by my mother who was always buying me books and reading to me, due to the self-esteem issues I mentioned above it took me a long time to pursue it as a career. Throughout my schooling, I'd earned straight A's in all subjects relating to English and language, and have plenty of "Blue Book" exams and collegiate papers as proof of my writing ability. Many of my college professors also encouraged me to pursue writing, recognizing I had the talent but by the time I graduated I didn't believe in myself enough to do it. So I worked a lot of jobs unrelated to writing to pay my bills and get experience. For example, I worked for a large national bank out of college, opening accounts and providing customer service before becoming an outside sales rep for an employment agency. It was that sales position that helped me to overcome fears of dealing with other people and learning to communicate effectively. I got thrown out of a lot of buildings for "soliciting" but it certainly toughened me up!

Then in 1997 while working as a development director for a nonprofit, I began freelance writing for a local South Florida paper called The Happy Herald. Although it was a "volunteer" position, it gave me the invaluable opportunity to build a writing portfolio and hone my interviewing skills. Eventually that led to employment in my preferred creative field where I could not only employ my writing skills, but also marketing, communication and organizational abilities too. 

You are a fantastic writer and a passionate political activist. You are able to meld these two passions seamlessly. Which came first, or did one stem out of the other?

I grew up in a close, traditional family with a very strong moral/ethical foundation. My mom especially has always been a passionate political activist and a self-described constitutional conservative from the time she was a young girl, thanks to her pharmacist father. He'd emigrated to the USA at the age of eight and fully embraced the opportunities here, graduating from Temple Pharmacy School in 1919 -- an  almost unheard of accomplishment for an immigrant. He was an avid anti-communist, pro-constitution American who had a huge influence on my mother, who in turn influenced me. At a very young age I can remember sign-waving for various candidates at polling locations. At the dinner table, we always talked about politics and national events so it was a normal part of our daily routine. My parents instilled a good work ethic, love of country and respect for the US military in all of us. During the days of Ronald Reagan's presidency it was like watching a football game whenever he gave a speech -- we'd jump up and down at cheer at different things he'd say! 

Conservative Diva co-hosts, Daria and Ellen Snyder
So yes, I've always been grateful and proud to be an American. 

Have you ever tried to fit yourself into a job that just didn’t work because you weren’t passionate about it? Describe the difference for you?

Too many times! But remember, while you are pursuing your dreams there's also a little thing called reality which demands that you pay your bills and be a productive member of society. So I've always tried to pull something valuable out of every job experience whether it was learning a new skill or meeting new people. My biggest piece of advice learned the hard way? No matter how much you hate your job, DO NOT leave until you line something else up! As much as you despise the drudgery, you'll despise even more the monthly effort to reconcile your bills when there's not enough income. And while you're working your "pay the bills"job, be sure to cultivate plenty of enjoyable extracurricular activities to balance it all out. This will also keep you sane. :) 

Tell me about the Conservative Diva, and what you do for them.

The Conservative Diva started out as nickname, believe it or not! I dubbed my good friend and relentless activist Ellen Snyder with that name because she is such a warm, outgoing, passionate and influential person with a TON of good friends. From there, we got the idea to start a Facebook Page called The Conservative Diva where we bascially share information and post commentary about what's going on politically. We're also making an effort to reach what I call "low-information" voters -- those who aren't political junkies who are nevertheless open to hearing the truth and interested in making an informed decision. The hardcore 30% of the country that has bought into the progressive agenda will never be swayed; it's the people in the so-called middle we're trying to reach, along with conservatives. 

Daria is one of the handful of people I know who is truly living their dream. She incorporates her values, her talents and her passions, which makes every day rewarding. Working for yourself can be challenging and tough at times, but anything but boring.

c. 2012

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