Diana Fisher is a local author, journalist, speaker and community personality in Kemptville, Ontario. She has been a successful freelance writer and columnist for many years and has been published in many local publications, including The Kemptville Advance where she writes a popular weekly column called The Accidental Farmwife.
We had the chance to sit down with Diana and talk about her experience as a writer, chasing stories and following your heart.
It’s never too late
After high school Diana knew she wanted to write for the newspaper. When she saw one of her old classmates, Julie Ireton, in the paper she contacted her out to ask what she did to get there. “She told me and I decided I wanted to go to journalism school,” Diana says. However, her life took another turn and she decided to get married at 19 instead of pursuing post secondary education. After spending her 20s raising three young daughters and running a home daycare and paper route she got the opportunity to live overseas. This coincided with a difficult divorce and she decided take the opportunity and live in Taiwan teaching English for three years. It was there that she finally went to post-secondary and took her publishing certificate through distance education at Ryerson University.
All you have to do is ask
As a writer Diana is a big proponent of talking with others about their work and processes. “Talk to people who are doing what you would like to do,” she says. “Reach out to them because they’re not that hard to contact these days.” As an aspiring columnist Diana sought out writers like columnist Tom van Dusen. “He told me you never sell a column once,” she says. “You always sell it to different places.” Diana says going to local writers festivals is also a great idea. “[Writers] love to talk about themselves and how they do what they do,” she says.
If you have a good idea, write it down
As a writer Diana doesn’t wait for a publication to buy her work to chase an interesting story. “If you think you have story worth telling you should write it and then find the market for it later,” she says. As a freelancer she has sold many stories to the Brockville Recorder and Times when they had a lifestyle magazine, an article about “A day in Merrickville” to Ottawa at Home and a story she stumbled upon about Adam Beach living in Kemptville to Canadian Living.
Diana says that, with any business, when lighting strikes don’t be afraid to put your ideas into action. “You just have to have the guts to do it,” she says.
Harness the power of social media
Diana says she realized the power of social media when she was covering the closing of Kemptville College in 2014. During the announcement she started what she didn’t know was “live tweeting” everything that was being said. “I had like 300 new followers [on twitter] that week,” she says. Although she fell into social media accidentally she says it has definitely helped that she had a social media presence when she started publishing books of her columns.
Diana says that the publishing world has changed a lot because of social media and the people who are getting book deals these days are those who already have a prominent blog, youtube channels or podcasts. “They already know that people will buy the book and they have a way of promoting it,” she says.
Go do your thing
Diana says she doesn’t see herself as a good entrepreneur. “I’ve made about one third of a living as an entrepreneur,” she says. “It’s been fun and I’ve met a lot of people that has led to better paying positions.” That being said, she has always chased what she loves and writing and editing is an important outlet for her creativity. She says she will continue to write the Accidental Farmwife and publish books even if it doesn’t completely cover the bills. “Better to do what you love than break your back to make money doing something you hate doing,” she says. Diana doesn’t believe in a lot of self promotion. “Really understand what makes you you,” she says. “Just make people aware of what it is that you do and go do your thing.”