I’m delighted to welcome Jennifer to the Writers Room!
Jennifer, who’s your favourite author, and what’s your favourite book?
It’s very hard to pick a favourite author but I’m going to say John Green. Favourite book is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.
What are you reading right now?
The Civil War of Amos Abernathy by Michael Leali.
Tell us about your writing journey so far.
I can remember writing little stories back when I was six or seven years old, so writing has been a part of my identity for practically my entire life.
In November 2011 I learned about National Novel Writing Month and decided to take a break from short stories and fanfictions and try writing a book. I didn’t finish a novel that month, but I wrote about 19k words and wanted to keep going. I eventually self published that book in January 2014 when I was 18.
I chose to major in English Writing at college because I decided that, even if it might not make noveling into my full time career, I wanted to learn more about the craft that I cared so much about. I took some fantastic writing courses while I was at school and they really helped me develop as a writer.
Being a full time author is certainly the dream, but right now that’s not a feasible option for me. I’m going to at least continue writing on the side though and I hope to be traditionally published one day. If I can make writing my career someday that would be amazing, but if I can’t and still need to have a “normal” job that’s okay too.
What’s the best and worst thing about being a writer?
There are so many options to choose from for both of these, haha.
I’m going to say that the worst thing is accepting that the first draft isn’t going to be the final draft. Sometimes I can get caught up in my head and I feel like if it’s not going to be good then it’s not worth writing, but that’s not how it works. Some art forms you just plan it out and then you do it, but writing requires a lot of editing and rewriting before it’s done.
The best thing is how writing takes the author on a journey just like the reader. Sometimes things come together in a way you hadn’t thought they would or the characters take over and drive the story somewhere you hadn’t expected. Not every art form has the potential to surprise the creator as much as the audience.
What does your writing process look like?
I usually write around 7:00pm and I’ll admit that there’s usually a fair bit of procrastination involved in the routine, haha. Most days while I write I listen to the original cast recording of American Idiot on Broadway. It might seem like an unusual choice because it’s so loud, but it helps me stop listening to my inner editor/critic and just focus on getting the words on the page. Sometimes though I’ll listen to the playlist I’ve made for the book (you can find it on my YouTube channel) or the “Piano de Ghibli” album.
I like to write on my laptop on Google Docs and I use Google Drive to organize everything. As for goals, I set a goal each month and track my progress with printed calendars.
What are you working on right now?
The third draft of a YA romance with a hint of fantasy. The one sentence summary is “problems arise for a cursed high school student when he finds out that the boy he’s falling for has a close connection to his troubled past.”
What would you like to have achieved by the end of this year?
I want to have finished writing the third draft of my novel and be working on editing it. I’m currently working on chapter 18 out of the 24 chapters I have planned, so I definitely think it’s an achievable goal.
If you could share just one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?
Sometimes you can have a great idea, but have it not be the right time for that project. Don’t lose heart when that happens and don’t get rid of anything. Hold onto the idea until the right time comes around.
The book I’m working on now I started the first ever draft of in 2016 and I worked on versions of it on and off until 2019. I never got very far into any of those drafts, but no matter how many times I put the story aside and thought I was done I ended up going back to it. Then January 1st, 2020 I started a brand new draft and wrote every day that year. If the passion is there, the time will come.
Finally, where can we check out what you’ve written?
You can find a few pieces on Underlined, and then the ebook edition of the novel I self published, Forced to Be a Traitor, is available pretty much everywhere. I also have print copies you can order by contacting me via email/social media/my website.
Jennifer is a writer from New Jersey who, among many other things, loves travel, photography, Disney, Marvel, and has recently become somewhat obsessed with the 1960s tv show The Man from UNCLE.