Keith Maginn believes that writing to help and inspire others is his life’s purpose.
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Keith earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Miami University before going to work for AmeriCorps and Habitat for Humanity. His forthcoming book, (Extra)Ordinary: More Inspirational Stories of Everyday People, releases October 10, 2017, and is available for pre-order at KiCamProjects.com and on Amazon.com.
1. What’s the background on your (Extra)Ordinary series? What inspired you to write these two books?
My first book was a memoir (Turning This Thing Around), and my second was an account of a philanthropic road trip through the South (Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward). After writing these books about my own life and then having others share their life stories with me, I got to thinking of all the remarkable stories out there about “regular,” everyday people. The inspirational stories of people I know personally were not being told, and I felt they deserved to be. That was the impetus for my third book, (Extra)Ordinary: Inspirational Stories of Everyday People.
Fortunately for me, KiCam Projects picked up that book and then asked if I’d be willing to write a spinoff, this time telling the encouraging stories of people from all over the world who overcame major struggles. Many of them now use their experiences to help others, and I am honored to be able to share their powerful stories in (Extra)Ordinary: More Inspirational Stories of Everyday People.
I always wanted to highlight positive stories, since we are so often bombarded with negative and sensational news. Despite what we see on TV and on social media, there are a plethora of good people doing good things in the world today.
2. What makes a great story?
I most strongly connect to stories about people who have endured major challenges and have been able to rise above their obstacles to thrive. The people I write about have been pushed to their limits. Stories that touch me are ones that move me emotionally, ones that make me laugh and cry. I try to have the same effect on my readers—to inspire them, make them think, maybe even challenge them.
3. What’s the most rewarding part of the writing process for you?
I like getting caught up in the writing, where everything else fades away and the work starts to flow effortlessly as time passes unnoticed. Everyone has a story to tell, but few find the courage to actually write that story. I can take pride that I took the leap and won’t have any regrets about not giving it a shot.
I also love hearing from readers whom my books inspired. Knowing my work has positively impacted the lives of others is a special feeling and sometimes carries me through when I question if all the hard work and sacrifice are worth it.
4. You say your life’s purpose is to be a writer. How and when did you realize that, and how has that knowledge affected your life?
I have been writing as long as I can recall. Even when I was very young, I would write poems or letters for special occasions (weddings) or difficult situations (funerals). I always felt like writing was my gift. Writing comes easily to me. The call to write has been with me my entire life, sometimes faintly in the background and other times so deafening that I had no choice but to put my thoughts on paper. Even when I have had to pursue “real jobs” to make ends meet, writing has always been there as an outlet. I not only feel writing is my calling, but, more specifically, writing to inspire others is my life’s purpose, the reason for all I have experienced and the reason I was put on this earth.
5. What do you love best about being a writer?
I love connecting with people with more depth. Putting out a very personal memoir strengthened my existing relationships with family and friends and enabled me to meet and bond with many new people. I love trying to get out of my mind and ego and live more from the heart. People respond to that and are much more willing to open up. This produces a deeper connection that isn’t typically found in our overly busy and sometimes superficial society.
6. What have you learned from the people you’ve gotten to know in your writing career?
Life is hard. Everyone is going through something, often behind the scenes. But we don’t have to struggle alone—we are all connected, and we need each other to get through life in a meaningful way. When we drop our defenses to show our true selves, we can connect with more depth and compassion.
I also learned about the amazing power of love and the incredible resilience of the human spirit. I have witnessed the miraculous unfolding of individuals when they find the courage to step out of their comfort zone, which is the only place where true growth occurs.
7. What do you hope readers take away from your books?
I hope readers gain courage to take some chances, to step out of their comfort zones. I hope they are better able to face their challenges and perhaps listen more to that intuitive inner voice, which I call the heart.