A Portrait of Nanette – The Writer
Over the next several months, we will get to know Nanette V. Hucknall, author of HOW TO LIVE FROM YOUR HEART (coming out this October!) in a Q&A series entitled “A Portrait of Nanette”. Many of you know her as a critically acclaimed author and founder of Higher Self Yoga. Throughout this series, we will share new insights about Nanette and shine a light on her many passions and interests. We hope to be a source of inspiration that allows you to listen to your heart and let it guide you in all that you do. This week, we’re sharing Nanette’s story as a writer and book author.
Hi, Nanette! What made you want to become a writer?
I was a voracious reader as a child, and loved to write, and even won an essay contest in school. In my late teens and early 20’s my closest friends were writers and I thought they were fabulous writers. One even had a contract with a major publisher. Reading their work made me realize I wasn’t a good enough to be a writer, and I gave that desire up completely and concentrated on my art. In my thirties, when I met my spiritual teacher, he told me I was meant to be a writer. This amazed and delighted me.
What books have most influenced your life and how have they made a difference?
At the time I was told to be a writer, I got Somerset Maugham’s book called: The Summing Up, which was his memoir. What encouraged and surprised me was that in his twenties he was in medical school planning to be a doctor and similarly had friends who he felt were great writers. Later, in his late twenties, he gave up medicine and started to write himself. He also said that all his writer friends, as they grew older, gave up writing, and he felt that their writing might be related to their youth and not from an inner deep longing to write. My friends also stopped writing including the friend with the contract. She never finished her book. This made me feel it wasn’t too late for me to follow my youthful dream. His book also gave me insightful criteria about writing.
The Agni Yoga books certainly influence my Higher Self books and also the Letters of Helena Roerich. Since this is my spiritual background, it is the basis for the Higher Self Yoga work. I also love all of Eknath Easwaran’s work and the way he writes.
Hermann Hesse’s work has certainly impressed me and is an influence on my novels. Also Fyodor Dostoyevsky way of psychologically developing his characters makes me try to see more deeply into each of my character’s persona.
Can you share some stories about people you met while researching/writing HOW TO LIVE FROM YOUR HEART?
I didn’t really research the Heart book but I did facilitate a couple of workshops on Living from Your Heart when I was writing the book. This gave me good feedback on the exercises.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Writing the query letter and proposal to send to an agent and publisher. Also I changed the title and subtitle many times.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
It brought me a deeper understanding of what it means to work with the heart on a daily basis. It reminded me on how important that is.
Is there a message from your book that you want your readers to grasp?
Basically to use their hearts in all their decision making. To take the time, when they have a problem or have to design a project, to not only use their minds but to also activity use their hearts to inspire them for a better and more fulfilling solution.
Where do your ideas for your books come from?
All the inspiration for my books comes to me in meditation.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
I belong to a book club and just finished a wonderful book called, A constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. It is beautifully written. Another book I just read that I really loved was, The Little Paris Bookstore by Nina George. It’s psychological, funny and entertaining. Am now starting to read, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. But I have to confess I am mainly a mystery lover and always am listening to those books on tape when I drive.
Do you have any writing rituals?
When I am in Florida for three months in the winter, I stick to a strict schedule of writing and editing from 25 to 35 hours a week. I stay at my sister’s home on the ocean and in the evenings we watch TV. She doesn’t tape shows like I do at home but likes to read a book during the commercials. Instead, I do my editing during that time. At home in MA it’s more difficult to keep to a schedule as I have a lot more happening that takes up my time.
Pen, typewriter or computer?
Only computer. Before computers, for my first book I spoke into a tape and transcribed it on the typewriter. Big job. Love the computer.
Do you write with music playing or in silence? (If you chose music, then what kind of music?)
Do you like to write alone or in public?
Any tips for other writers on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Fortunately, I never have experienced that. I have worked with people who had creative blocks and have found that they can come from a past life where they did the same kind of work, and failed, or were victimized for it. Doing a past life with them can clear that up. Sometimes a major block is caused by feelings of unworthiness coming from childhood. I think it’s important to just write anything and not worry about whether it is good or not. Just do stream of consciousness and get into the rhythm of writing every day even if it’s only for a half an hour.
Can you recommend a book to all your fans?
That’s a difficult question to answer because I think each person is an individual with unique likes and dislikes. I certainly would recommend all the classics and also the books I have already mentioned, and of course all the major authors who have won prestigious awards.
Are you working on or planning to write another book?
I’ve just finished a novel, Zarathustra’s Journey. The main story is about a Swiss man’s spiritual journey — a journey of many challenges that takes him through several romances and personal conflicts. During this period he writes a book in which the teacher, Zarathustra, comes down from the mountain and teaches Higher Self Yoga.
I am also editing my first novel called, The Power of Illusion, the story of Sabbatai Zevi, the most famous false Messiah who lived in the 17th century.
I plan to do another book on Higher Self Yoga.