How did you become a writer?
How much time do I have to answer this question? Lol.
Well, writing started for me about eight years ago. I can vividly remember sitting on my recliner in the living room, when a childhood memory presented itself out of nowhere. And I can still see it now, actually-- just as clear as ever…
I was in the fifth grade, and I had a book report that I needed to complete for my language arts class. In a frenzy, I skipped down to the school library and planted myself onto the floor. Then, after peeking over my shoulder to make sure no one was watching me, I found a random spot on the shelf and began digging in.
But believe it or not, searching for the ‘perfect book’ wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. In fact, I can still envision how grueling that process was. I mean, there I sat, flipping open each book cover, reading those first few pages, getting frustrated when I couldn’t understand the words, and then dolefully tossing the them back onto the shelf until I finally gave up on the idea of finding a story that would be easy for me to read.
I don’t remember much of what happened after that, but for some reason, that little snippet of a memory always stuck in my mind. Maybe it was because I feared the grade that I was going to receive on that project. Perhaps it was even the worry that other people would judge me because I wasn’t a good reader. But no matter what the cause of that recollection, there was still something about that moment in time that made a lasting impact on my life, and I’m thankful for it.
So anyways, fast forward about fourteen years and that’s when the idea of writing a story really hit me. All of a sudden, I was sitting at home, watching television, when out of the blue, I remembered that specific moment and I thought, ‘Well, gosh, I can’t be the only person in the world who’s struggled with this type of thing.’
And it was then that I decided I was going to write a story, so I sat down at the computer and just started typing.
At first, it began as a selfish endeavor. I wanted to write a book that I could read, and read with ease. It was a whirlwind, really, and it carried with it an excitement that is really hard to put into words. It was me trying to prove to myself that I could do anything in the world—even if it was something that had been a challenge in the past. But then, as time went on and my book started to unfold, that idea of ‘proving it to myself’ quickly became, ‘I need to prove it to others, too.’ So I can proudly say that it was at that point that my first book really pieced itself together.
In the end, I created a beautiful middle-grade novel that I’m still proud of to this day. It’s about a boy who, due to some unfortunate circumstances, gets bullied in school, and winds up meeting a whacky science shop owner who sends him on a mission to save another planet.
That book was THE story that I wrote for fun, THE story that pushed me to write, THE story that helped me overcome my long-held insecurity, and THE story I've secretly (not so secretly, now!) dedicated to all those kids who've had trouble with reading, just as I did back in the day.
I still have that manuscript. It’s sitting on a hard drive in my computer, just waiting to be unleashed.
What inspires you to write?
So after this idea took form, I swiftly fell in love with whole writing process in general. That idea of wanting to help myself- and others- was the inspiration that I needed to start and finish that story. After five years of writing it, I could finally say that it was done, and I eventually got to set it down and move on to a new interest of mine: picture books.
My three-year-old boy and my four-year-old girl have played a major part in the motivation behind those works, and I look forward to reading those stories to them one day soon.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
I find that my characters develop much better when they aren’t forced. Some of my best stories have come from a feeling as opposed to an obligation. Therefore, I really try to write first drafts only when I’m in the mood. Editing, on the other hand, is an entirely different beast. I try to tackle that even on the hard days.
Could you share some of your challenges as a writer?
I think us writers have a lot of the same challenges, and personally, my biggest challenge is…
I work full time and have two young children at home, so I typically squeeze in my writing after the kids have gone to bed at night or early in the morning before anyone else in my house is awake.
Tell me about your protagonist. What's your favorite strength and/or weakness?
When I first started to write the main character in my middle-grade novel, I really fell in love with his sweet personality. It didn’t matter what life threw at him; Tom always managed to love himself through it all. And I think we need more of that in this world. He’s a science-loving, robot-building, book nerd, and I absolutely adore all those things about him. I love that no matter how cruel people can be to him, he doesn’t let them snuff out his light.
How does your antagonist create conflict?
Well, the antagonist in my story is the master of creating conflict. I like to think of him as being Voldemort-esque. He’s a dark creature that lacks empathy and has no regard for human/alien life. Everywhere he goes, he sucks the happiness out of things, and he’ll stop at nothing to make sure he seeks his revenge, even if that means killing good people along the way.
What are your current/future projects?
As of now, I’ve taken an intermittent break from the middle-grade series and am working on two picture book ideas that I’m really excited to share with you guys. I have a handful of other completed picture books, and I’d love to see them on a shelf, too, but I’d really love to branch out of kid lit in the future and write an adult sci-fi. As of now, I’m in the preliminary stages of plot formation and look forward to seeing what else comes of it.
Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
Yes, I kind of do! Now that I have children, I typically like to get up at about five o’clock in the morning when the house is quiet. I make my coffee, drinking it from a ceramic giraffe print mug that my husband bought me on one of our many trips to the zoo, and I immediately go to work. I usually wrap up around seven, or whenever I hear the first thud, thud, thud of little footsteps coming down the stairs. And sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly excited about a project in the works, I’ll pick it up and toy with it on my lunch breaks at work.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
It would be the same advice I give myself now… Just keep writing.
No matter how hard some of those brainstorming/editing days can be, I’m always excited when I finally feel as though I've completed a project, so I never want to lose that feeling. There are tons of other people out in the world who’ve fallen in love with writing, just as I have, and I’m sure all those people know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s the thing that keeps us ticking.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write from your heart! Write about things that are interesting to you. Explore those ideas that mean something… and wake up every day ready to tackle them. If you’re excited about the stories you’re creating, then how can you go wrong?
What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?
You can contact me via email at email@example.com, but I also float around on Twitter quite often so look me up and follow me there too. I try to follow back as much as I can because I truly love how connected the writing community is on this social media outlet. My handle is: @JenMyers0523. I look forward to hearing from you!