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Paul Rance interviews American Associated Content contributor and prolific wikiHow contributor Sondra C
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Sondra C is an inspiration for those of us who fear that as we get older we won't have the energy to do so much. Sondra has had a mind-boggling 84,000+ contributions on wikiHow alone - a record. She is also the oldest editor on wikiHow. I interviewed Sondra C on May 18th, 2009, and her answers are below. I will be looking to interview a few more people when time permits, and it's not just talent I'm interested in. Only kind hearts - to people and animals - need apply! Thanks to Sondra C for answering the questions.


Q: As an artist and someone who works in ceramics, what advice would you give to someone looking to showcase their work?

Sondra C: The best way to showcase ceramic figures, is to have them seen. We have a Piano Showcase Store in the Mall. Once a month a pianist gives a free recital. They serve a light buffet. This is a great place to showcase your figurines and/or ceramic wall plaques. Put a few on the tables, on the pianos, and on the walls. Make small cards and place them near or next to the figures with the artist's name, and where they can reach you. Also place for sale on the card and the price. Make sure you add your phone and/or email address and your name. Another place to showcase would be at an art fair. I did this once and it was really fun. I brought a card table, a sign with my name and contact information, and prices per item that I had brought along. I also had shown it in an art show indoors in an art center.

Q: You've also written a lot of articles. Can you list some of the publications you've appeared in, and websites you've appeared on?

Sondra C: The NY Times, Orlando Sentinel, Maclean's magazine in Canada, Gather.com, GrowingBolder.com, Suite101.com, wikiHow.com, eHow and demandstudios.com

Q: Who are your favorite creative people, and the creative people who've inspired you?

Sondra C: I really do not have any favorite creative people, and there were no creative people who inspired me. I have always been artistic by nature.

Q: When did you first get interested in art, and making ceramics specifically?

Sondra C: Writing, specifically using words, has always been my way to express thoughts and feelings. I used words as a way of expressing humor to express my thoughts and feelings - whether they were sad memories, or happy moments. The moment I sat down at a computer, my inner thoughts, as if by magic, printed out on paper, and, suddenly stopped when the thoughts stopped, whether in a humorous way, serious, or describing someone and their actions or deeds. Later on in life, I wanted to paint abstract in the same way -- express my thoughts and feelings by using a brush instead of a computer. I wanted to paint abstract or expressive art, and not still life art. I never could figure out how I could do this by using a brush and paint, instead of using a computer. As far as my interest in ceramics is concerned, I went to an art fair and saw the ceramics that the artists were selling or displaying. They were so realistic, and some so cute, that it piqued my interest immediately. When I got home, I Googled ceramics in my neck of the woods, and found a store that sold figurines, plaques and more. I visited them, looked at what they had to offer, and decided to buy one of the hardest of them - Indians sitting - I learned how to use the Dry Brush Method, and painted it. This is how I got interested in ceramics.

Q: You've contributed a lot of items to wikiHow. How many at present? What do you write about mostly? And for the uninitiated what is wikiHow?

Sondra C: wikiHow is a site that enables anyone to find 'How to' information on every imaginable topic. It also was the site that opened the door to my writing on the Internet. I discovered them accidentally when I searched for a recipe 'How to Make Coleslaw'. I printed the recipe, checked out the site, submitted a recipe of my own, and remained a dedicated contributor for 3 years.

I have written or started over 270 new articles on a variety of topics, ranging from 'How to Cook a Roast in a Crockpot', to 'How to Adopt a Baby in China' or 'How to Climb a Wall'. Intensive research had been involved to make each article accurate. Aside from my original contributions, I also added to hundreds more, through editing, improving and/or adding pictures to enhance each article.

I also am the oldest editor and the top contributor with over 84,000 contributions. I still maintain that title, although I have since moved on to writing for other sites that pay for my articles.

One of the unique features of a 'wiki', is that anyone in the world has the ability to make corrections or changes or deletions to any article, or adding further information to make it accurate. Each original author is recognized as 'starting an article' and not as 'writing an article' due to the editing process involved.

Contributors or editors do not get paid for any contributions in any wiki site.

Q: You've also been interviewed by the New York Times. How did that come about?

Sondra C: At the time, the New York Times, as were other major publications, were writing about all the wiki sites. They were specifically questioning 'why' anyone would work on a wiki without getting paid. They contacted the founder of wikiHow and requested an interview. Since I was a top contributor and working long hours to help build wikiHow, my name and phone number were submitted as a source to be interviewed. They wanted to know how I felt about not getting paid and what motivated me to spend so many hours writing and editing on a wiki without getting paid. It was a telephone interview.

Q: What other interests do you have, and what creative skill would you love to be able to master?

Sondra C: My lifetime interests were many and varied. I played classical music on my Baby Grand. I sewed clothing for my young children. I did needlepoint, embroidery and stitchery. I had always wished I had finished college, so after my husband's death, and at the age of 63, I registered at a local college and graduated with honors, and made my lifetime dream come true. I can't think of any other creative skill I would still love to master as I think I did them all. I know it's not creative, but the one thing that I have been trying to learn, for all of my life, was how to swim. I gave up on ever being able to do that!

Q: What advice would you give to any creative soul struggling to get recognition?

Sondra C: I would tell them to just follow their dreams and to continue to do what they love doing the most, or always wanted to do, regardless of their age. Eventually recognition will follow. Millions of people worldwide (via the Internet) have and still read articles that I have written, edited or improved. Many of my articles were geared to Seniors, Cutters, everyday experiences or recipes. My written words will be read and help millions of people worldwide. My name will forever live on through the Internet as contributor, author, writer or editor. To know that I have been able to help so many, is extremely gratifying to me, and make me feel quite fulfilled.

Q: What do you think is the best thing about Associated Content, and how do you think it could be improved?

Sondra C: To be quite honest with you, I had joined Associated Content about a year ago. Also, after reading articles that were written by many outstanding and noted authors, I felt a little intimidated about joining. Every once in a while I would make a small contribution but that's about all. One day, I received a message from one of the long time contributors on Associated Content, who patiently explained and answered all of my many messages and my questions. She really is the reason that I started to contribute in earnest. Once my first article was published the ice was broken. Now all I think about is what else to write about and how many other authors articles I could read, review and comment on.

Associated Content has many other fun activities. The Poet in me really enjoyed the challenges presented during Poetry Month.

The only thing that I might like to have improved, is for them to pay more money for articles submitted. Other than this, I think it's great just the way it is. I get so happy when one of my articles has been approved. I feel like a kid in a candy store, enjoying what I am writing, and then wanting to write more.

Q: What ambitions do you still have re your work, and how would you define success?

Sondra C: My one ambition is to be interviewed by Oprah and show other Seniors that 'dreams and goals' do not have to stop just because we are in our senior years. Age is merely a 'number' and should not deter us from doing what we enjoy doing, or had always 'wished' we had done, as long as we are physically able to do them.

My definition of success is I do not define success by how much money one has, or how many friends one might know. To me success is being happy within. Waking up each morning, and being thankful for still being alive and healthy. Having a smile on your face instead of a frown, and making at least one stranger smile each day, by giving them a friendly 'hello'. Remember, you just might be the only person that this person sees or talks to all day, so the next time you go to a supermarket, say 'hello' to someone. If they need help, then try to help them, and then walk on knowing you have made one person happy .

Q: If you lived on a desert island, which three things would you want to take with you (should mention, no hunting and fishing allowed on this island!)?

Sondra C: If I lived on a desert island the three things I would want to take with me, is a pencil, paper, and chocolate cake.

Q: If you could change five things in the world what would they be?

Sondra C: Well this is kind of a hard question to answer in a few steps.
1. I would like the America of today, to be like the America I knew when I growing up. We had gangsters, yes! But they never killed, raped or kidnapped children. The only ones they hurt were other gangsters.
2. We have too much hatred in this country, we live behind locked doors.
3. People who migrate to the America of today, should completely adopt the country and speak the language of the country they adopted. When the Italians or Jews, Hungarians, etc. left their country to migrate to America, they learned and adopted the language and became true Americans.
4. Stand behind our elected President, and show support and respect.
5. Legalize marijuana as they legalized booze. When people can buy what they want, they do not kill to get it.
As far as the World is concerned, I would like to see an end to all the hatred, terror and hunger. Most of all, I would like to see all of our military come home, leaving Iraqi leaders to rule their own country, with us offering advice and assistance. Too many of our young are being killed or maimed, resulting in the possibility of losing many future physicists, scientists or teachers.

 

© Copyright Sondra C, 2009.

 


 

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