A friend of mine, from forever, Jenni Green, invited me to participate in this Blog Hop. It’s a chance for me to talk a little about my work, but to also get to know some great, new-to-me writers and also share a couple with you. Since this week is about connections and the importance of our social networks, I thought this fit in just fine.
Although most writing is done with some degree of isolation, it never ends that way, not really. Or at least it shouldn’t. In the end, it’s better for all of us when a writer gets up the nerve to share their work with others. This feels incredibly vulnerable and yet it is invigorating.
After months alone, working with words, I want to know how they hit. I want to hear feedback. I want to know if the reader was moved or touched or annoyed. I want to hear their thoughts, talk about real ideas with real people.
The work is better, we are better, when we share with each other; when we surround ourselves with good people and I have done that time and time again. So, through this blog hop you get to meet three of them, Jenni, Jessica, Jodi – and no, your name does not have to start with J to be included among “good people.”
First, I will answer the questions posed by blog-hop writers, then send you off to meet the others and these connections will continue on their pages next week.
Q: What are you working on?
I just finished my third nonfiction book, called, I think, maybe, (these things can always change in the process) How to Live an Awesome Life. Now I’m working on a new proposal, finishing up some magazine articles – one on savoring life – and trying to catch up on my sleep and friendships. The end of a book is always a flurry of activity, now I’m sitting in the quiet a bit more. And exhaling for a bit.
Q: How does my work differ from the others of this genre?
My books are really a conversation. I imagine the reader as someone I want to sit down and have coffee (or margaritas) with and I write like that. The books offer very practical ideas and strategies – things you can do while the kid is having a meltdown and you are cooking dinner, delivered in a conversational, we’re-all-in-this-together style that you don’t see in other personal development books.
Q: Why do I write what I do?
The stuff I write about is the stuff I’m working on and living with in my own life. These are the things I want to learn: how to live consciously and deliberately, how to use my abilities and talents, as imperfect as I am, to change the world for the better. So, I figured others might be interested too.
I’m idealistic enough to believe that when we feel better, we do better. We touch each other with greater compassion, positive energy, kindness, love and humor and those little things can make a big difference. That matters to me, so I write about it. I am so doggone curious about how our brains and emotions and energies work, that writing about it is a way to keep learning about it.
Q: How does your writing process work?
Lots of coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. I live with the idea for a long time. Not everything is worth writing about and I need to determine if the ideas has legs and if I want to live with it for awhile. It takes a bit to write a book and I don’t want to hate the idea by the end of it. I also look for what I want to learn, what I need to know, and I began researching that. This makes the writing a process of discovery and I love that. When I’m ready to go to work, I panic. Then I throw out everything I know on the page. Nothing too organized, lots of question marks where I don’t have answers. Then I complain a bit. Then I worry. Then I decide I can never write again. Then I write and I keep going and keep drinking coffee. With magazine articles and books all happening at the same time, I’ll write for hours in the morning, but my day also includes a lot of interviews, research, marketing, checking in with my friends on Facebook, texting my other friends who aren’t on Facebook, you get the picture.
Most of the “writing” work though is in the revise. I spend months revising, changing, tossing out, adding in. When I have something on the page I feel a lot better, because then I have something to shape and work with, but the real work, where the beauty happens is in the revision.
Other writers have other processes and quirks. Find out more by checking out Jenni , Jodi and Jessica’s blogs.
Jenni Green and I grew up together and I’ve watched her grow from a girl with boatloads of Barbie stuff into a woman and mother and a writer who seeks to speak the truth through her poetry and plays. Her work makes me think and feel and that is what good writing is about.
She is a recipient of a Regional Arts and Culture Council Individual Artists Grant for her play, An Island, and is a member of the Dramatist Guild. Currently she is working on a play based on Susan Brownmiller’s book,Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. She studied theater and composition with Anne Bogart at SITI Company in NYC, and has toured professionally with Brainwaves, an improvisational creative problem solving organization, as a group facilitator for corporate team building. Jenni is also an actress, professional speaker. You can find Jenni here: http://jennigreenmiller.wordpress.com
Jodi Helmer and I met at a New York writer’s conference, though we both lived in Oregon at the time. We quickly discovered that we could take on most
of the world’s problems — especially our own — with greater ease after talking, laughing, and eating doughnuts.
When Jodi is not writing about health and sustainable living for magazines like AARP, Shape, Natural Health, Costco Connection, Modern Farmer and E: The Environmental Magazine, she teaches writing workshops and helps emerging writers launch freelance writing careers. Helmer is the author of four books, including The Green Year: 365 Small Things You Can Do to Make a Big Difference. Jodi lives in North Carolina where she grows vegetables, keeps bees and tries to convince her pack of rescue dogs not to steal strawberries or antagonize the bees. Check out her work at: www.jodihelmer.com
Finally, check out the work of Oregon writer and editor Jessica Morrell. I met her years ago when I took her class. It changed the way I thought about my work and her ongoing encouragement has helped me make sense of my own writing process. If you want inspiration and insight into the craft, you should check out one of her workshops.sustainable living for magazines like AARP, Shape, Natural Health, Costco Connection, Modern Farmer and E: The Environmental Magazine, she teaches writing workshops and helps emerging writers launch freelance writing careers. Helmer is the author of four books, including The Green Year: 365 Small Things You Can Do to Make a Big Difference. Jodi lives in North Carolina where she grows vegetables, keeps bees and tries to convince her pack of rescue dogs not to steal strawberries or antagonize the bees. Check out her work at: www.jodihelmer.com
Jessica Page Morrell understands both sides of the editorial desk–as an editor and author. She writes with depth, wit and clarity on topics related to writing and creativity along with other topics and is the author of Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us, A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing is Being Rejected; Bullies, Bastards & Bitches, How to Write the Bad Guys in Fiction; The Writer’s I Ching: Wisdom for the Creative Life; Voices from the Street; Between the Lines: Master The Subtle Elements Of Fiction Writing; and Writing Out the Storm. Her forthcoming book No Ordinary Days: The Seasons, Cycles and Elements of the Writing Life will be published in fall 2014. Her work also appears in anthologies and The Writer and Writer’s Digest magazines. Morrell founded and coordinates three writing conferences Summer in Words, Making it in Changing Times, and Claim Your Story. She is a former food columnist and restaurant reviewer, has been creating columns about the writing life since 1998, and is a popular speaker at writers’ conferences throughout North America. Morrell lives in Portland, Oregon where she is surrounded by writers and watches the sky in all its moods and permutations. Go to http://jessicamorrell.com/
Butterfly flowers image by artist Erin Cairney White.