In some ways, we writers have the easiest jobs on the planet. We generally don't work outdoors in the elements. We get to be creative for large chunks of the day. And the wardrobe...hello, working in your pajamas all day, goodbye fitted khakis. And farewell annoying coworker who always, always eats fish for lunch. At his desk. Right next to yours.
Still, even writing for a living has its downsides. Besides not knowing where your next paycheck is coming from, you also have to learn to take really good care of your body. Because a broken, burnt out body/psyche aren't going to help your career.
I was recently asked to write a guest post over at Writing and Wellness on this very topic: how to take care of your health while writing full-time. I shared some of the tips and tricks that I use and hope you'll get some benefits from them.
Somewhere out there must be a writer who loves editing.
That person is not me.
Out of the entire book writing/outreach/administrative/publishing parts of writing, editing has to be my least favorite. I've tried everything I can think of to make the process smoother--even writing from an outline (I hate outlines and much prefer to follow the story as it unfolds), but nothing seems to make it easier.
As you can see from the photo above, I've now resorted to sparkly gel pens and highlighters along with tea and pumpkin-scented candles to keep me going. Whatever works, right? ;)
As I work on the edit of the next novel I'm struck by something: there is a "next novel." I am so blessed. Despite the angst I feel about editing, despite the fact that I'm not some huge, best-selling novelist, I get to write books. What fun! And some people buy them. Amazing!
Counting My Blessings
It's easy to get caught up in the why-can't-I-be-as-popular-as-that-author type thoughts, especially when you work alone day after day. I'm making it more of a point though, to count my blessings when it comes to work (and life in general).
What a thrill to be able to write for a living!
I've dreamed of this for years and years: when I worked as a receptionist; when I toiled as a vet tech; when I helped women in the clothes store pick out that "just right" dress; when I was employed for several years in human services where I worked as everything from a DUI program assistant to a case manager.
When you have a creative dream, do all you can to make it reality. Even if you work on it in tiny chunks (like say, writing a book in 15-minutes a day), keep going. Even when people make snide remarks about "getting a real job," keep going. Even when you're stuck in the 9-5 treadmill life, do whatever you can to move just a little closer toward your dream.
And hey, if you find yourself in need of a pep talk, drop me a line: jpcwrites (at) gmail (dot) com. I love talking with other creatives and may have a tip or two that will help you.
This weekend marked the 52nd Vermont Maple Festival. Perhaps you've heard of it? It's been featured in several prominent U.S. magazines and draws thousands from around the U.S., and even the world.
This celebration of all things maple is one of perks of living here in northwestern Vermont. In the past few days I've discovered the bliss that is maple syrup dipped French fries (wow!) and met some wonderful "neighbors" at the local craft show where I shared a table with two other awesome Vermont authors.
For the past few years fellow Vermont author, Beth Kanell, and I have shared a booth at the Maple Festival craft show. This year we were joined by a third Vermont author, Lori MacLaughlin.
Beth writes beautiful poetry and historical novels for the YA crowd (her newest has just come out, The Long Shadow, and I can't wait to read it!). Lori focuses on fantasy and writes entertaining and adventurous books that are hard to put down. Her newest book, The Road Once Taken, has just come out on Kindle and will be available in paperback very soon.
And if that wasn't enough, I also got to finally meet the wonderful, witty and completely personable Vermont author, Kathryn Guare, last week as well. We've chatted online before but it was lovely to meet her face-to-face and talk shop. The hour and a half we spent discussing plots and exchanging publishing tips felt like 20 minutes!
It's always a pleasure to join forces with other local authors. Do you like to read books based in your area? Why or why not?
If you're a creative, you likely feel guilty when you take time "away" from "real life" to practice your art. This is an epidemic in the creative field and one that I am becoming more and more frustrated by.
Too few artists and writers and musicians have the luxury of doing their work on a full-time basis. When we talk about making our art as our career, it's often in awe-laced voices. Smile lines around the eyes deepen and a happy glow radiates from our faces. Phrased like, “Someday…" and “When I retire…" and “Wouldn’t it be wonderful …” are common phrases we too often mutter.
Why is the world set up in a way so that bankers and accountants and software engineers and business owners are lauded and given the head nod of approval, while those of us who create are told to “do it in your free time?” Where has the respect for art and creativity gone? Why do we as a culture no longer embrace the creative gifts the same way as we did in the Renaissance Period?
Maybe my view is skewed. I certainly didn't get enough sleep last night. Still, it irks me that creatives gifts are seen as “less than,” because our society views money-making endeavors as more important. But when did the dollar bill outshine the importance of creating? When did the banks become more important than the art galleries, and Wall Street more valued than creative expression?
When did we decide as a culture that working 40 or 50 or 60 hours a week in a cubicle or warehouse or office was more important than living a full life, one that includes creative expression and communication—not just as a “side hustle,” but as our life’s work?
This is one of the reasons that I recently joined Patreon. Unfamiliar with this community? It's a platform that allows art patrons to support artists and their creative endeavors. I've been thinking for joining for a long time, but that little voice in my head held me back.
"Who are you to think that people would want to support your writing?"
"Don't you think that people have more important things to spend money on?"
"Get over yourself. There is no way that you'll get anyone to take a chance on your work."
Of course, that sealed the deal. If I've learned one thing from that negative, critical voice over the years it's this: do exactly what it fears most.
So I created an account on Patreon. You can watch the video below for more information, or check out my page there right now.
I believe that creativity matters. I believe that people love books and stories. And I believe that my career as an author and writer will grow stronger with the support of a community.
If you aren't a newsletter subscriber, you may have missed today's big announcement: the winners of the (2) Amazon gift cards. Angela L., and Melissa B., were chosen at random from everyone who entered the "Sharing the LOVE" contest. Congrats, ladies! I'll get your gift cards out to you soon.
My Dream of Being an Author
"Did you always want to be an author?" People have asked me that question in recent years. The honest answer? No. But maybe not for the reasons you'd expect.
I dug out my "School Years" book today to see what I had aspired to be as an elementary student. You know, those funny little spiral-bound books where you glue a picture of yourself, along with the most important facts about yourself. Like, "best friends," and "hobbies," and of course the section for "what I want to be when I grow up."
While my book is somewhat ruined due to water damage, I could see a trend in my goals: a mother and a teacher (like my own mother). By about the sixth grade, I'd apparently lost interest in being a mother, and just wanted be a teacher. By high school I'd sworn off both. I was going to be a photojournalist for National Geographic who never married or had children...or a veterinarian.
As a kid though, no one ever suggested to me that I could be an author. In fact, the little boxes in the School Years book don't list that as a potential career. But I could have aspired to be a model, I guess, or an airline hostess (except I've never been thin or tall enough for either of those careers). Those options do have little boxes beside them.
Even though I've adored writing my whole life--starting with the stories I wrote in childhood, the "magazine" my friend and I created monthly, the embarrassing poetry I wrote in middle and high school and the constant, incessant journaling I've done since I can remember--no one ever said, "Hmm. Do you think you might like to write as your career?"
In fact, I never thought of writing as a way to make a living until 2007, when my oldest sister (who obviously knew something that the editors at "School Years" didn't), asked me why I didn't try freelance writing. Not as a hobby, but a job.
So, I did.
I had a writing business for nearly eight years and wrote hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, blog posts, website content for businesses and nonprofits, newsletters, four novels, and one non-fiction guide for writers.
I fell in love with writing novels
I'd love to tell you that once I wrote that first novel my path was set, the floodgates opened and the money and fame poured in. But that would be as fictionalized as my books.
In reality, it's been a long, slow, uphill climb. I nearly gave up completely due to a new, full-time job and the criticism of my books.
Thin skin + author = unhappy person.
Still, I've never given up on my dream. Someday, maybe five years from now or 10 or maybe 20, I want to make a living from my books. I can't imagine a better job than creating stories that transport readers. To bring readers to different times and places, and offer an adventure that they can take with them wherever they go? That's the best job in the world in my book.
Welcome to the website of author J.P. Choquette (pronounced, "show-kett"). Join the Reader Group and nab a free short story, along with the latest news, goodies, upcoming event announcements and more.
Already read a book? Have you checked out her other suspense novels?