Interview: Veronica Kirin
Can you start by telling the readers a little about yourself?
I grew up in Michigan in a Croatian-American family. My heritage is very important to me - I try to travel to Croatia yearly to see the rest of the family. I knew from a young age that I was made to help others, and as soon as I was old enough, I began my Humanitarian career. I eventually enlisted for two years in the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) and deployed across America as a disaster relief worker. Sadly, that experience resulted in Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI / PTSD) and my Humanitarian career ended. I became an Entrepreneur to try to create a 'safe' version of the work that I loved to do - helping others in critical ways. These two experiences put together created my Coaching program - Self Care Through Scaling™ - in which I support LGBTQ entrepreneurs in developing businesses that don't burn them out. I believe that everyone has a vision for making the world better, and if I can support the people that take the leap toward that goal, then the world will be a better place.
You just wrote a book about The Greatest Generation and their thoughts on the changing world of technology. But it was so much more than that; can you tell us about the book?
It was an incredible journey. I raised $5,000 on Kickstarter (an online crowd funding platform), drove 12,000 miles across America, interviewed 100 elders, and documented approximately 8,435 years of life lived. I really felt like I became a conduit. The book isn't about me or the journey. It's the end result of the stories I was entrusted with. My generation is the last to be able to talk to our elders and truly understand their message. I hope I recorded it with the honor it deserves so future generations understand and respect life before tech.
To write this book you did a ton of research. And part of that research meant collecting stories from individuals all over the US. Can you talk a little but about what that was like?
The journey was hard. From the outside it looked like an exciting adventure, and in some ways it was, but in many ways it was grueling. I hadn't learned enough about self care at that time, and didn't build it into my travel. I was interviewing, driving, or sleeping in a strange place at all times. I teach my clients to build self-care into their business model because of this experience. Despite that, I am deeply grateful and honored that I got to do it, and I would do it again (but better).
Out of all the interviews you did for this book, did any stand out to you more than others?
Some did, yes. The engineer who helped develop our first spy satellites. The nun who went to prison for protesting nuclear weapons. The evolutionary biologist who sees time yawn before and behind us, technology being an accelerating blip in time. There were absolutely moments of tears, moments of laughter, and moments of awe. I thought I was well-learned before this research, but I came to know much more about our country and way of life than I had previously.
What is something you learned from writing this book?
Expect it to take three times as long as you plan. Many famous authors say that writing a book is 10% writing and 90% editing. This is true. If you want to write a book, brace yourself for a labor of love.
Why do you think it is important to tell our stories?
My background is in Anthropology, which is, in a way, the art of human storytelling. We don't learn from facts and figures. What I mean by that is that you can hand me a number or equation, but without context, it means nothing. That is why so many kids complain about learning math - there's no context. The students that love math had a great teacher who offered contextual problems for their learning. If we are going to respect our elders or preserve our history, we must do it through storytelling. And if we are going to learn to manage the technology we are surrounded with today, we will only learn to do so through the stories of our elders, who lived long enough without technology to not be romanticized by it.
We are never really done growing up. What would you like to do in the future?
I have a lot of future goals. Some of them are specific milestones, some are more vague and awaiting the right time. I do hope that I continue to evolve throughout. I don't think I can stay the same and write another book like this one. I must evolve in order to have something new to say. And I absolutely intend to write more books (or publish the ones that are already written!).
Do you have any advice for girls who are growing up today?
You'll experience a lot of dissonance between what people tell you to 'be' or 'do'. Listen to what you have inside you - that is your true voice and is right, no matter what. Too many young women grow up learning to silence their inner voice in response to what they're told to be, do, or look like. That's too much lost potential.
What is the best advice you got while writing Stories of Elders?
Just write a shitty first draft. I knew this, but it took someone giving me a swift kick in the bum to actually get started. I had hours of interview material to develop into a book and that felt overwhelming. An author coach named Morgan Gist MacDonald told me to forget about the interviews and just write. If I knew an interview belonged somewhere, I could annotate and then insert it later. That's how the book finally got started, a year after the research ended.
A few favorites:
This is an impossible question, because there are so many I love and it's always changing. So let's go with The Chrysalids by John Whyndam. I love this book because it's along the lines of the fiction I tend to write - post apocalyptic and grappling with the question of how would society describe technology once it's lost.
"She's going to dream up the world she wants to live in / she's going to dream out loud" (from a U2 song, naturally)
What is your life motto?
Life is a chance to happen.
Want to order Veronica's book? Purchase it here.