Teresa Thomas, the Master Connector. Interviewed and Written by Grace Olson
One of the words that came to mind throughout my conversation with the wonderful Teresa Thomas was ‘connector.’ This is because she emphasizes connecting people and bringing them together through various outlets. “It’s what I love to do,” Ms. Thomas said. “I feel a huge sense of purpose by bringing people together, so they help each other out. It’s what I’m supposed to be doing.” Because she loves connecting people, she has found much joy in guiding people to find the joy in connecting with others. Ms. Thomas is a connector, an author, a networking expert, and a presenter. She has won awards for her work as a connector and creator of networking events.
Her book 50 Fun Things for Writers emphasizes the importance of enjoying even the smallest things in life. “Life is hard enough,” Ms. Thomas said. “We don’t need to make things worse by not enjoying things.” Her inspirational book is a list detailing things for people to accomplish in order to lead more joyful and connected lives, which aligns perfectly with Ms. Thomas herself, as someone who values connections so highly. When she talked, I could hear the passion in her voice as she explained the purpose of her book. I couldn’t help but think of how much I relate to her message of finding joy in the little things in life.
As a child, Ms. Thomas read a bunch of books. When I asked her what her favorite book was, she said she loved A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, which also happens to be one of my favorite children’s books. She loved the book so much because she loved how the author included in the story some of the ways in which everything is connected and intermingled, which Ms. Thomas is all about. She loves examining how things and people are connected to each other. The interconnectedness of A Wrinkle in Time’s storyline and characters sparked her interest as a child, and, through talking to her, I could see how that point of view has stayed with her throughout her life. We had a long discussion about the book. We talked about the things we loved about it and what we didn’t like about it at the end of that segment. I could see how her childhood reading habits influenced her and how they impacted her writer’s voice.
As for her inspiration for her current writing endeavors, aside from her favorite childhood book, Ms. Thomas looks to her mother. Her mother is a member of a writers’ group and is an avid reader, just like her daughter. Ms. Thomas’s mother has gone through some very tough things in her lifetime, and she always finds a way to see a lesson, a positive, some humor, or something to gain from those experiences. “She’s imparted that wisdom and that mindset onto me growing up,” Ms. Thomas spoke of her mother. I could tell the profound impact that Ms. Thomas’s mother’s mindset has had on her daughter. I thought to myself throughout that part of our conversation, that takes so much strength of will. As someone who likes to see the brighter side of life and sometimes fails, I can see how inspired Ms. Thomas is by her mother’s positive mindset. I can see how much a mindset such as that can serve a person.
When I asked Ms. Thomas about her favorite moment in the writing process, she answered with, “finding my voice.” She went on to explain a particular line from her book 50 Fun Things that she loves. Because she’s always been a person who loves puns (I love puns, too, so I enjoyed this part), she put a funny pun in one of the sections of her book about trying a different writing style. The pun said, “I’m considering the prose and cons.” She explained how her editor accidentally missed the pun and edited it out. She, of course, wanted the pun to stay a pun, so she tried to fight for her pun. And she won! She got her pun put into her book. “It felt really good,” she said, “because the whole purpose of 50 Fun Things is to show the world my voice, and that victory for my pun showed that I did it! I stuck to it, and the old me wouldn’t have.”
In the end, Ms. Thomas hopes her readers come away with after finishing her book is to look at their writing from a different perspective and, ultimately, look at everything from a different perspective. However, she also wants them to avoid being too hard on themselves.
For the final interview question, as always, I asked Ms. Thomas if she had any advice for writers like me, who are just starting out in their careers. Ms. Thomas said, “Find what is best for you as for getting your book out into the world,” meaning that I should be open to other methods of publishing if the traditional publishing route doesn’t work for me or isn’t the best thing for my book. She went on to discuss her experience with self-publishing. She said to explore other possibilities and keep going the way I am. “Keep learning from other writers,” she said.
After concluding the interview with Ms. Thomas, I felt inspired by her positive mindset and outlook on life. Looking at life and finding the little joys in it are both so important, and I think Ms. Thomas has a good grasp of what that looks like in practice. Her words inspired me to look at life in a more positive light, and I hope her words do the same for you.