Purcellville writing coach empowers aspiring authors
Writing coach David Hazard chose a stylized flame as the symbol of his writing program, Ascent, to symbolize the power and potential of each person's life experience.
“What is your fire? What were you put here to say and do?” Hazard said. “I see myself as a message investment broker. I want your message to get to the broadest possible audience at the biggest possible impact it can have.”
Hazard has worked in the publishing industry since 1978, when an internship with Lincoln-based Chosen Books turned into a job as the editorial director. Early on, Hazard realized his favorite part of the process was grooming new authors.
However, by the mid-1980s, the publishing process changed. Zondervan bought Chosen Books, and publishers began to focus on marketing more than editing.
“I realized that I was going to be squeezed out of what I love to do,” he said.
For the next 20 years, he worked as an author, ghostwriter and writing consultant. Then, in 2008, he decided to begin “a prep school for authors,” he said.
That is how Ascent was born.
Today, Hazard works with numerous clients from the local area and around the world, teaching authors how to find their voice, create a publishing package and advertise their books.
Even though he works from his Purcellville townhouse and local coffee shops, Hazard runs a tight schedule.
Days begin at 4:30 or 5 a.m., when Hazard rolls out of bed, pulls a dress shirt over his gym shorts and shuffles down to the kitchen for a cup of dark roast.
With his necessary shot of caffeine, he heads over to his stand-up desk and Skypes in with his international clients – such as a three-person team trying to re-organize African governments or a lady working with children in Nepal. The Oriental screen behind Hazard doubles as a pleasant webcam backdrop and a cover for the dirty cat dish.
After talking with his foreign authors, Hazard spends the afternoon meeting with new and old clients at coffee houses and developing design packages for finished manuscripts. Evenings fly by with manuscript editing or speaking engagements at local libraries and clubs.
“It really is the life of the entrepreneur,” he said.
Hazard likes to coach clients “from the inside out,” he said, beginning with meditation and other exercises that will get the author to stop focusing on the inner critic.
“They have trouble writing because of what goes on inside their heads,” Hazard said.
One of those people was Dan Sheehan, a Marine who went on two tours to Iraq. The veteran, who had struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, originally came to Hazard with a collection of war stories.
“What he said to me was, 'I don't really have a right to talk about something wrong with me because I didn't come back from war with limbs blown off,'” Hazard said.
However, after talking with Hazard, Sheehan found the spark of inspiration for his book – his mental wounds were just as real as any combat scar. Sheehan's memoir "After Action" is now being considered for the required reading list for retiring Marines.
Hazard is working with or has worked with a list of talented and star clients: the former vice president of Freddie Mac, a Sterling woman who is developing a book about child trafficking and a uterine cancer survivor, among others.
“There's that moment where you watch somebody reach a life goal, when somebody gets their first books and they call me up and they are in tears... It's like you've groomed somebody and got them where they needed to go.”
Anyone interested in Hazard's program can go to http://www.itsyourlifebethere.com or visit him at one of his many Loudoun County Library workshops this summer.
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