Interview with Jamie Seitz
How did you become a writer?
It was some point between reading Then Again Maybe I Won't by Judy Blume and E. L. Konigsburg 's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler for the fiftieth time over breakfast in elementary school when I realized there was an actual woman sitting at a desk somewhere in the world writing these stories I inhaled every morning along with my cereal. They were probably somewhere exotic like New York City or Maine or New Jersey...anywhere besides the Midwest where I was, and from that moment on I knew that's what I wanted to be. I wanted to be the girl writing stories other kids read compulsively while they ate their breakfast. So, I started writing stories in fourth grade and I never stopped.
What inspires you to write?
My favorite thing about being a story teller is taking something sad or difficult and traumatic and wringing it out until there's something beautiful left behind. Sometimes that beauty comes in the form of humor or a clever realization or a sense of belonging to someone else who sees the world like you do. But getting to the heart of the beauty, showing a reader how I see it, is what inspires me to write stories.
Could you share some of your challenges as a writer?
The biggest challenge for me is making the time to write. I have a big, busy family and there is always a
lesson someone needs a ride to or a swim meet I don't want to miss. Balancing my work time with my family time well takes a lot of effort and planning. Another big challenge, that thankfully I’ve learned is fairly common, is what I call the "Halfway Through Writing a Book Self-Doubt Imposter Syndrome". I've written four books now and each time I panic seventy-five pages in that I've used up all the good words in my brain and who am I kidding, I can't write a book and what made me think I could? Every. Single. Time. Apparently, it's just part of my process because I do eventually come up with more words and finish the book.
What are your current/future projects?
I just finished the first draft of a YA novel I'm excited about. After writing several middle grade novels, it was fun to roll up my sleeves and lean into some teenage heart-a-flutter kissing scenes. The story is about Quinn, a shy American girl who paints her feelings and is afraid of most everything who wins a scholarship to a fancy English boarding school for her senior year. She leaves against her mother's wishes because she feels like it's her only chance to be brave and create a life she can be excited about and of course she falls for an adorable British boy. It's chock-full teen angst and all my new favorite British phrases.
Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
After a few years of trying different things, I've finally settled on a schedule that works for me. I write first thing in the morning for a few hours with a big cup of coffee (or three). I work best if I don't look at my phone or open email until after I've written for a few hours, because once I do, my brain has too many tabs open to write anything good. After I've reached my word count goal, I get in a workout or a walk outside, eat a quick lunch, and save editing until the afternoon. I often have two projects going at once, usually drafting one story in the morning and editing another in the afternoon. By four, my kids are home from school and my workday is over.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Find a writing group. It can be online or in-person, writers of the same or different genres, published
authors and unpublished authors, doesn't matter. The important part is building connections with people who do what you do. It's invaluable. I have the very best group of women in my writing group and they have been my lifeline when writing was exhausting, when signing with an agent felt like an impossible dream, and especially when Covid hit and the world was tipped upside down. We have cheered, celebrated, brainstormed, laughed, and cried together and I love them with my whole heart. Find your people and treat them well.
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