What was it that drew you to writing and editing?
I actually graduated Harvard with a degree in music performance, then went off to NYC to study, teach, and perform. I did medical transcription for extra money. It wasn’t until years later that I joined a training and development group in corporate America and discovered my natural talent for writing and editing. I was always the one in the room, the office, or the class, to whom people turned for grammar and punctuation advice. All my years growing up in a household of teachers was suddenly paying off in new and unexpected ways. It wasn’t long before I went solo with Harvard Girl Word Services.
I understand you’re from Boston and now reside in Bandon by the Sea…
What was that transition like?
Yes, I grew up in and around Boston and then NYC, but also lived in a number of small towns in Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Mexico.
When my husband suggested taking our home-based businesses to the coast of Oregon, the only thing I could see was vast wilderness abutting a vast ocean. In my head, the square state of Oregon was covered in nothing but green!
The reality, of course, is far different. And, although I am not a tried-and-true outdoors enthusiast like so many here, my community of artists, musicians, writers, and ocean lovers is perfect and fulfilling in every way.
What are some of the ways your life has changed as a result of—to borrow a
phrase from Robert Frost—taking the “road less traveled”?
As my website says, walking a less-traveled path means “going rogue.” Taking the road less traveled is by default a way to live life to the fullest. Instead of making decisions based on fear or compromise, you open your heart, look around you, and say, “What feels the best? Where, how, and when do I feel the most joy, gratitude, and passion?” It’s being willing to be vulnerable in order to expand and grow. For me, that’s the true nature of courageous reflection, and how I try to live every day. Although I could never have imagined my life would have played out in this way, I also cannot imagine it otherwise.
How do you think that’s influenced your personal style?
My approach to writing is the one I teach in all my writing workshops (called Writing with Your Authentic Voice—one of which is coming up this September):
Learn to recognize and identify your Unique Energy Signature in order to tap directly into who you really are as a human being and a writer. Learn the difference between what feels like truth and what feels like the energy of reason, or logic. Learn the difference between accessing the frequency and vibration of the raw voice you alone generate and your need to earn the acceptance of others. Channel all these things into your writing and your writing (and your life) will never be the same.
What is the first piece of advice you would give to a writer who is looking to make the leap from hobbyist to published author?
Authors tend to get caught up in the fear of their own written words. That may sound strange, especially for those who have loved writing their whole lives, but when the feeling behind the action is connected to ego, ideas of success and failure, and so on, as soon as the pen or pencil hits the paper (or fingers hit the keyboard) all bets are off. It’s only when we partner our mind with our heart—the home of our authentic voice—that we find the words that speak truth in a way that connects with the hearts and souls of our readers.
Speaking of style, you have a unique intuitive process, how did you discover it?
My intuitive process came about in a relatively unusual way after the death of my husband Randy in 2012. Randy had always told me that I “channeled” the work of my clients in my Harvard Girl business, but it wasn’t until after his passing that I truly understood the validity of his assessment.
My intuitive skills have taken off, as has my ability to write from the core of my being. That is why, along with my editing/writing/self-publishing business, I have added intuitive coaching for writers to my list of services.
If you had to choose a particular story, author, or editor that exemplifies the importance of editing and the relationship between editor and writer, who or what would it be?
This is a difficult question to answer because every time I read a book that I love I immediately turn to the acknowledgment section to find out who the editor behind the author is. This relationship is paramount to every good work. I have developed longtime friendships with many of my clients, even those I’ve never met, from places like South Carolina, Ireland, and Saudi Arabia. The reality is that many writers do not make the best editors and many editors do not make great writers. It is a symbiotic relationship that deserves respect and dedication.
Do you think being close to nature influences your process?
My office is in my sunroom, where I look out at the greenery, hear the ocean, and feel the breeze.
The perfection of Mother Nature’s earth keeps me solidly planted in the energy of gratitude and creativity.
What are some of your current artistic influences—not limited to writing or editing—is there any particular music or art form that you draw inspiration from?
I was trained as a classical flautist and now spend a lot of time practicing and performing locally both classical and “improvisationally guided music.” I find the deeper I go into the feelings different kinds of music inspire in me, the more integrated my writing, artwork, and music becomes.
What is the most challenging assignment as writer or editor that you’ve undertaken so far?
The most challenging editing and book design project I ever did was a 500-page book called
Answer to Cancer. Along with comprehensive rewrites, there were hundreds of references to fact check and graphs and charts on almost every page.
Any word of advice you would like to leave our readers with?
Find your authentic voice. That’s the one that will speak the truth, and that’s the one that will speak to your reader. Then find the editor who can help your message shine with its highest vibration.
This is Adam Thorsfeldt, signing off.
On behalf of the library and our patrons, thank you for talking with us today. It’s been a pleasure.
When her husband Randy transitioned in 2012, Heidi Connolly’s life took a dramatic, revelatory turn. For over 20 years, as owner of Harvard Girl Word Services (a writing, editing, book design, and self-publishing firm), Heidi has focused on the work of others. She’d been told she channeled the messages of her authors, but assumed that was little more than an acknowledgment of her expertise. Now, she understands just how valid that descriptor was. In her award-winning book Crossing the Rubicon, written with Randy after his passing, Randy informs Heidi that the grieving process can act like a filter that blocks out spiritual messages asking to be heard.
About a year after Crossing the Rubicon was published, Randy encouraged Heidi to purchase and start playing the flute again after a 25-year hiatus from her classical music career. Shocked but willing, Heidi soon began channeling what Randy calls “inspirationally guided flute music.” Currently, her multidimensional compass is set to a practice not only of writing and book publishing, but intuitive coaching and music, as she “goes rogue” and lives life as a Vacationing Angel. You can find Heidi at HarvardGirlGoesRogue.com and HavardGirlEdits.com.