Today, we are pleased to bring you part 2 of our exclusive Q&A with The Game of Love & Death author Martha Brockenbrough. If you missed it, catch part 1 here.
Compared to Bessie Coleman, who faced outright discrimination in the states, and worked her way to flight school in Paris as a manicurist, I am a chicken. But, it was a big deal for me to become a writer. I’d always wanted to, but people kept telling me to “have something to fall back on.” I put all my time and energy into failing, and did quite well! I won awards as a journalist and went on to be the editor of MSN.com, which was at the time one of the largest websites in the world.
When I was 30, I had my first child, and I couldn’t bear to have her live that way—that our dreams were unimportant, and that fear of failure should be our ruling force. I didn’t want to set that kind of example. After being told I couldn’t manage a team part time, I quit my corporate job altogether and started working for myself, freelancing and building websites and doing other things that would give me the flexibility in my schedule that writing seems to demand. I gave up as secure a financial future as you can have for the life I always wanted, and while it has not been easy or predictable, I have no regrets.
Ha! You are most welcome. One of the part-time jobs I’ve had along the way is as a teacher. My high school students, who were wonderful and inspirational, sometimes struggled with basic grammar. I’d written a column for the now-defunct online encyclopedia Encarta about secret societies, and the two things came together with an organization called SPOGG: the society for the promotion of good grammar. I was its unnamed head, and in the voice of SPOGG, I would offer authoritative, funny, but firm corrections. I also made lunch boxes and other swag, because who doesn’t love lunch boxes? It was so enjoyable that I started thinking about how to make it bigger. National Grammar Day was the result of that, and the first one took place a few months before my grammar book, Things That Make Us [Sic], hit the shelves. For me, it’s been about loving language and showing people how the effective use of it—very often but not always by following convention—can be an advantage in life.
You’ve written such a diverse body of work already – YA, children’s picture books, children’s nonfiction, trivia questions, etc. – what’s next?
More of the same, I hope! My ambitions know no bounds. I’d also love to write a television show for children. And a screenplay. And probably greeting cards, even though no one seems to send those anymore.
I absolutely love writing. Letters, status updates, tweets, books. This is how I love the world and the people in it, and I’m OK with that. (It’s much better than if I tried to do the same by singing.)
Thanks, Martha! Tune in for part 2 of our Q&A on Wednesday and part 3 on Friday.