In building a writing community for the memoir I’m working on, I joined a few writing groups on LinkedIn and Facebook. In posting personal stories about my journey to authorship (btw, subscribe to my Substack, Memoir Junkie Wannabe Author!), someone (author and storyteller Peter De Kuster) reached out to me about being profiled on his site, which highlights women authors and artists.
So here’s the article that was published on TheHeroine’sJourney.com. (Warning, the headshot image of me is massive—it makes me cringe. Oh well.)
What is the best thing you love about your work?
The creativity, challenge, thinking, and continued growth I experience as a writer. No two days are ever the same and I love that. I also think the variety of projects pushes me to be more creative and think critically.
I am a writer at heart and I feel blessed to be able to do it every day and get paid for it. On the professional writing side, I write and edit for my tech clients, learning about the latest financial technology tools and trends.
Personally, I’m working on my first book, a memoir. I write regularly for my Substack newsletter about my book-writing journey and two websites. One is my travel blog called Claire’s Holiday and the other is my professional portfolio, ClaireTak.com.
What is your idea of happiness?
Happiness is wanting the things you already have. I think I read that in a book and I remember feeling so wowed by it. I had never thought of happiness quite in that way before. I started to really dig deep and think about what I had in my life—two loving parents who are still alive, friends I care about fiercely, and work that brings so much meaning to my life, I couldn’t help but to become so incredibly grateful for all of it.
I started to see life through a different lens and it became easier to shift my thoughts away from “I’ll be happy when…” to “I’m so happy because…”
What is your greatest fear?
Stagnancy. I want to know that I am always learning, growing, and being a little uncomfortable. It’s the moments of uncomfortableness that you start to expand.
What is the trait you most deplore about yourself?
Sometimes I am too impatient. It’s mostly with myself, but I’m learning to get better at waiting and not making brash decisions or rushing. These are mistakes I made in my 30s. When you reach your 40s, life goes by even faster so it’s nice to “train yourself” to slow down a bit and just enjoy.
Which living people in your profession do you most admire?
I am a huge fan of books, so of course, I have a deep affinity and admiration for authors. There are so many! The ones I admire write about change and overcoming complicated and painful problems.
Here are some favorite authors of mine: Ann Patchett (“These Precious Days”) Amy Bloom (“In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss”) Kiese Laymon (“Heavy”), Roxane Gay (“Hunger”), Tom Hanks (did you know he wrote fiction books?! My favorite is “Uncommon Type”), and Anthony Ray Hinton (“The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row”).
What is your greatest extravagance?
Being able to travel and live wherever I want, when I want. Also, taking online writing classes—they’re not cheap!
Name an occasion where you would tell a lie.
There are two—if someone asks me, “Do I look fat?” and if a story is repeated to me and the person asks if I’ve already heard it.
What is the thing that you dislike the most in your work?
I tend to procrastinate when things are hazy—for example if a client gives me work but I don’t fully understand the product or the goal. There was also a moment in my writing career when the kind of writing I was doing felt very robotic. I was just churning out the same stuff, week after week. It started to feel stale.
But no one is a mind reader, so I learned to be more vocal about taking on other kinds of writing projects and sparking more variation and creativity in my days.
When and where were you the happiest, for work?
I’m happiest when I’m in the flow—this is when I am deep in my writing, usually, it’s when I’m writing a really vivid scene for a chapter in my memoir.
Sometimes, it stirs up really painful memories, but other times, I recall moments that were so delightful. I’m also happiest when I’m with my writing group. We meet once a week to write together for an hour. It’s the best way to be productive!
If you could, what would you change about myself?
I would change my ability to relax. I wish I could take naps during the day and lounge around without thinking so much about everything I need to get done.
What is your greatest achievement in work?
Over the last decade, I feel proud of being able to work with and learn from really brilliant people in the fintech world, especially when I was in San Francisco. I once met Sebastian Thrun on a Zoom call to ghostwrite for him—he’s an ex-Google VP and co-founder of the digital learning platform Udacity.
I’m grateful to have been able to experience such awe-inspiring moments. But honestly, my greatest achievement is getting to where I am right now, to have my career in marketing and tech writing evolve into my desire to become a published author. I always thought writing a book would be too hard, too much work… but then I thought, why not me? The more I push myself to think that way, the more I feel like I can achieve anything.
Where would you most like to live?
Somewhere near a snow mountain! Besides writing, I snowboard a ton, and I’ve traveled the world doing it. I haven’t snowboarded in Europe yet, so I’d love to live somewhere near the Swiss Alps just to experience a few seasons there.
What is your most treasured possession?
Right now, it’s my Apple AirPod Pros. They’re the ones with noise cancellation and let me tell you, it’s changed my world!
I no longer need to lug my giant headphones around when I write at coffee shops or travel. They’re seriously worth every penny.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I tend to be pretty a pretty disciplined person. Writing is really hard and if I don’t work during my peak brain efficiency time (early mornings), it’s hard to get work done.
I thrive on being productive and I stick to a strict writing schedule for both work and personal projects.
What is your most inspirational location in your city?
Right now I live in Honolulu, so the most inspirational location is on a hike in the mountains. You can always see ocean views and there’s no smog here. I also really enjoy the view from my apartment—every day I get a front-and-center view of the sunrise and blazing sunsets.