For today’s Interviews With Women Writers, we hear from Dorri Olds, who knows a thing or two about the trials and tribulations of life. She’s learned first hand what it truly means to survive, and she has some words of wisdom that we all can carry with us into 2017 and beyond! Take it away, Dorri…
Name: Dorri Olds
Where are you from: Born on Upper West Side of Manhattan.
3 words to describe me: Creative, smart and funny (and humble! Hahaha)
Website/Blog: Dorri Olds
Tell me a bit about yourself…what do you do, what are your hobbies, etc.?
My life story is one of survival. I’ve had mental issues: depression, PTSD from teen gang rape at 13. Became drug addict/alcoholic. I’m still haunted by getting pregnant at 14 (my boyfriend’s condom broke). I’m so glad it was easy to get an abortion. I was totally not ready to be a mom; as an adult, I opted out of motherhood — glad about that decision. I hated school. Ran away to Greenwich Village. Many suicide attempts. Depression, anxiety, problems with relationships, lots of drugs and drinking. Really wanted to die. It’s strange I didn’t OD. I sure tried to for years! So I consider myself a survivor and success story. I have tons of empathy for others. Life is hard for everybody. Different lives and different problems. Nobody can say life is easy. On a lighter side, I love writing. And I love my dog. He’s a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Best dog ever.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer? Was it always something you wanted to do?
I just always did it. But I also drew and painted all the time. My mom was a writer. Her brother was a painter. So I figured I’d be one of those two things.
What writers/books did you admire growing up?
Children’s Books: Dr. Seuss & Maurice Sendak
Grade school: A Wrinkle in Time, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Phantom Tollbooth.
High School: Go Ask Alice, Autobiographies of rock stars, The Great Gatsby, Jaws, Exorcist, Helter Skelter.
Adult: Love True Crime. Of course, In Cold Blood!! Also read tons of Ann Rule books. My fave is A Stranger Beside Me. She worked at a suicide hotline alongside her friend Ted Bundy. Then she found how he was the serial killer cops were hunting for. Eerie story! I love really dark stuff.
What is most rewarding for you as a writer?
When someone tells me I helped them. I also thrive on praise of any kind…
What issues do you think women face as writers?
Good question, but I’m not sure how to answer that. Probably the usual sexism. Harder to do things, probably earn less pay.
What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were just starting out?
You really don’t need drugs and alcohol to be creative. And drugs and alcohol turn on you. They rot your brain. I probably wouldn’t have listened, though. I’ve always been very stubborn and rebellious and self-destructive.
What would you tell aspiring writers today?
Writers write. If you want to be a writer, write! Don’t waste time talking about being a writer.
How do you think advances in technology have changed the profession, either good or bad?
Tech is fantastic. So much of the great things in my life are because of the Internet. So much easier to read, research, network, make friends.