Creator Spotlight: Arlee Maxwell
"So often people will say 'I could never write because I’m not good enough.' My response to that is, you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great." (Paraphrasing the late American Author and Motivational Speaker, Zig Ziglar)
Arlee Maxwell has been a writer for as long as she can remember, but has only recently found her true voice. That newfound voice is one of honesty--no matter how brutal the truth is, ambition--no matter how high the obstacles in front of her may seem, and fearlessness--both in the endeavors she explores and the life she creates.
As a founding member on Vocal, Arlee has been with us for quite some time. She's created with us and seen Vocal through many different phases; and, we can't help but feel that we've been on parallel creative journeys. Creators like Arlee inspire us to stay at our best and continue offering a safe haven for artists of all skillsets and walks of life. For those reasons, we're proud to position Arlee at center stage and highlight her in this week's edition of #VocalSpotlight.
On her background, aspirations, and motherhood:
I am the daughter of an Army veteran, which makes me an Army brat. I grew up in a large family of 8 because my mother always dreamed of having a large family like the show “The Walton’s”. Growing up with 4 sisters and 1 brother gave me tough skin, so it takes a lot to disturb my peace. I’m a realist to the core.
I became a mother at a young age and have spent most of my life accepting situations for what they are and deal with them to the best of my ability. Becoming a mother has humbled me and has taught me how precious children are. Something people do not know about me is that my dream is to have a farm with all types of animals and a house big enough for all the foster kids I would be allowed to take in. I dream to be able to show kids coming from broken homes the meaning of love but also the meaning of life by using the farm to teach them work ethic.
On her foundations and progression as a Writer:
I have always enjoyed writing since I could remember. My Mother one day gave me a diary and I filled it up front to back. I then received my first desktop at 8 years old and began blogging online. I will admit, I stopped because even at an early age I recognized the power of the Internet. At the time I reflected on my content and quickly became aware I wasn’t yet mature enough or sure how to separate personal diary writing from public online blogging. I didn’t want to put something out into the world that I may have regretted later down the road not able to take back.
I tried many times since to pick it back up and it wasn’t until I joined Vocal years ago that I finally felt confident enough to write again. Writing is therapeutic to me and has gotten me through a lot of emotional trials in my life. So often people will say “I could never write because I’m not good enough.” My response to that is, you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. I’ve learned over the years you don’t have to be a perfect writer to relate and connect with the person reading your content.
What inspires you to create? Who are some people who you’d say inspire you the most?
Over my life, my family has said that I would be the one in the family to write a book. My family inspires me to write because we are kind of like keeping up with the Kardashian’s (minus the money). We are a large unit, it’s always interesting, a lot of drama, and very much will make for some interesting content for a book one day.
Besides my family, I would say that I inspire myself the most to write because I believe you should always be your own self's biggest fan.
On her self-admitted flaws and willingness to share:
Sometimes it’s hard to admit flaws in yourself, and mine over the years have been reflected in some of my writing. I have noticed that I have lacked a lot of heart in my content just because I wanted to create. Not that it’s a negative thing, but it’s the honest truth on my self reflection. I truly want to get back to the place in my writing where I am led by my heart when creating because that has led to my best work.
I am an open book which affects my writing in a lot of ways because I share content that most wouldn’t want the world to see. I enjoy sharing what has happened in my life: the good, the bad, and the pain as well. Simply put, I just love sharing content that someone else may read and be able to relate to. Some life lessons have been harder than others, but it’s rewarding in the end once I am able to give advice to the next person--in hopes it helps them in some way.
On her family's adjustment to Veganism:
I have been blessed through life with a great metabolism in which has created a monster because I will out eat any man. In recent months though I have decided to change my diet becoming vegan, not only for a healthier lifestyle but more so for animal rights. It’s not secret how cruel they’re treated and If this is how I can help them, I am willing.
It’s been challenging to learn how to cook vegan meals, but anything that stands for a great purpose doesn’t come easy. I have made some extremely nasty meals. Sitting across the table I have often seen him trying to choke it down for the sake of not wanting to hurt my feelings because he knows how hard I’m trying. Despite the challenge of learning how to conquer the recipes, the biggest challenge by far has been getting family to take our diet seriously.
On her piece, “Unpopular opinion: You are the reason your life has turned out as it has.”:
“Unpopular opinion” holds a strong meaning behind the writing. It was me writing to me. What I mean by that is, as I was writing it I knew every word I was putting down was true and it took me creating it to truly help change my life around. Unpopular opinion was a creation to remind myself that I hold the power over my life, nobody else. Behind the scenes it was written with strong emotions to help myself as well as others who needed some tough love advice as well.
Since writing that article I fell back into a negative pattern where I allowed someone to control so much in my life and emotions. Pretty much not following the life advice I knew I needed to and dwelled in a place of pain for some time. I had enough though and took a positive step into the right direction of gaining control back. I started the process by taking a break from social media and truly searched my soul for healing, which I found.
At the end of the day nobody is perfect, we all backslide, but don’t dwell or stay in that place for long. Get back up and keep going. You may fall 100 times but you better get back up 101.
On her favorite story she's published on Vocal:
“When he says he’s not ready for a relationship” to date is my favorite piece. It’s actually my first piece ever written actually. I will never forget sitting in bed with tears running down my face writing this content. I truly believe it’s been one of most successful pieces because my heart left its footprint all over it. It’s also one of my favorites because it’s helped so many people along the way.
Don’t think about it—first thing that comes to mind:
What is one thing you couldn’t live without?
My son hands down is the one thing I never want to live without. I couldn’t imagine life without him in it or the pain that would bring.
Cats or dogs?
Both! They’re unique and special to me and I could never choose one or another.
Favorite travel destination?
Austria has been my favorite place to date that I have visited. It’s truly a magical place in this world. I strongly urge anyone wanting to visit a place in Europe to pick Austria. Thank me later.
What’s your go-to late night snack?
Chips and Salsa with a coke if I’m feeling unhealthy that day.
What are you currently binge watching?
Ozark because I live in Cherokee county where it was filmed.
If you could speak a new language, what would it be and why?
Spanish because I feel like in the United States it’s become as common as English and I would love to be able to connect with Spanish speakers and not have any barrier in communication.
Favorite story you read on Vocal by another creator?
My nephew's submission, "Unpopular Opinion: Creative games are better than violent games," because through the years watching me write he became inspired and so his first piece will always be my favorite because of how much it means to me that he wants to follow my footsteps. So definitely go give him a read in support of his journey!
Staying grounded in reality is a tough task to some, if not impossible to most. Yet, Arlee remains present through every obstacle and opportunity life throws her way. Through this grounded perspective, she continues to strive as a writer and offer astute advice to the many people who find themselves caught in the tightening grasp of life. With each new story comes a little more wiggle room to escape that grasp and realize the true strength, worth, and independence we all possess.