Writing Life #6

As a regular feature, our authors periodically answer an interview question to provide a glimpse into the mysteries of their minds.

Why did you decide to embark on the mad journey to make writing your job (either full-time or part-time)?

Connie J. Jasperson:

I’ve always been a writer, but I had kids to feed and bills to pay. I was employed by a large energy management company until I was laid off during the big recession. For the first time in my life, I was unable to get a job.

For the first month, I was quite depressed. My husband was still employed, but I’d never been out of work. I’ve always juggled work and family, but now I had way too much time on my hands. Suddenly my house was so clean it looked like it was up for sale, but that only kept me occupied for a short time each day. I was writing for an hour or so every day like I always had, but I thought I needed a hobby so I painted a few cheap terracotta flowerpots in really bright, intense colors.

Did I mention that I was really depressed? Soon I had more fancy flowerpots than I needed but I couldn’t seem to stop painting them. I was giving them away, begging people to “please, take as many as you want.” When not painting flowerpots, I was writing.

The flower-pot thing got a little out of control. One of my adult kids mentioned that the front of our house looked like a Mexican pottery stand had exploded there. By Christmas, everyone I knew had all the flower pots they ever wanted and had begun to run when they saw me approaching with pottery in my hands.

It occurred to me that maybe painting flower-pots was a hobby with finite potential, whereas writing had unlimited possibilities for entertainment.

I’ve always been a fan of video-games, and in 2008 I began writing fan fiction for an RPG game website, which in 2009, led to writing the walk-through for a potential game that was never built. I did NaNoWriMo in 2010 (and have every year since) and published my first book in 2011. Winning NaNoWriMo and publishing that book gave me the courage to keep on writing.

I write and edit full time. Besides this blog, I regularly blog on the craft of writing and have a book review blog. I have 5 books published. This writing gig is not as lucrative as my corporate life was, and I work 10 to 16 hours a day seven days a week, but I am happier than I have ever been.

Life is good.


 

David P. Cantrell:

I didn’t decide to make writing a job. I had one of those and don’t want another. Writing is my purpose in life, not in the philosophical sense, but in the intellectual sense. It stimulates me to use my brain for more than Sudoku and Jeopardy!. It gives me a good reason to get out of bed.

I retired six years ago because of a spinal cord injury. The injury took more than my profession as a CPA, it took my hobbies and most social activities. Writing has filled much of the void.

Woodworking, particularly furniture making, had been my favorite hobby BSCI (Before Spinal Cord Injury). I loved every aspect, from design to finish.  The opportunity to create something tangible gave me great joy and a sense of accomplishment that I rarely enjoyed in my professional life. Writing offers the same experience without tracking sawdust through the house.

I’ve joined social groups of one kind or another since Cub Scouts. I like socializing with my fellow humans–even the jerks. A Rotary Club had been my social drug of choice BSCI. I’m technically still a member and attend a meeting a few times a year, but its not enough. Through writing I’ve met dozens of writers from around the world. They are a gregarious and friendly bunch for the most part. My social activities have recovered nicely.

Edgewise Words Inn has been a wonderful experience for me. It’s allowed me to experiment with story telling–the creative writing course I never took. Connie J. Jasperson  and Lee French have taught the course with their helpful comments and by their examples.

 


 

Lee French:

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Always. This thing called “Real Life” intruded, casting self-doubt on my ability to pursue that dream, in addition to bestowing upon me a spouse and offspring. College made writing less enjoyable because I had to churn out essays on things I had little interest in and read books I cared even less about. Granted, I encountered a few books I otherwise probably wouldn’t have and cherish to this day, such as Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia Emerging and Robert Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters. Regardless, I also had to read books I simply had zero interest in.

One day, I stumbled across NaNoWriMo and gave it a shot. I handed the steaming pile of crap I produced to a friend and asked him what he thought. He said, “I’d buy this off a supermarket rack in the checkout line.” While this may seem like faint praise, it was the first time anyone ever told me that my writing had monetary value. Others had said I could write and had talent and blah blah blah, but no one had ever said they’d pay to read my stuff before.

That was my moment, the one when I decided that I needed to give this publishing thing a shot. It took a while–that happened in 2009 and my first book hit Amazon in 2013. But it happened.

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Author: Lee French

Lee French lives in Olympia, WA with two kids, two bicycles, and too much stuff. She is an avid gamer and active member of the Myth-Weavers online RPG community, where she is known for her fondness for Angry Ninja Squirrels of Doom. In addition to spending much time there, she also trains year-round for the one-week of glorious madness that is RAGBRAI, has a nice flower garden with one dragon and absolutely no lawn gnomes, and tries in vain every year to grow vegetables that don't get devoured by neighborhood wildlife.

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