GUEST INTERVIEW FRIDAYS

INTERVIEW WITH JAN FIELDS

      
       Hello, Jan. Thank you so much for participating in this
       interview series. You are one busy lady. How do you balance all
       of your different roles and find balance?

       Poorly. A lot of the time, I don’t find balance and I have this “not
       doing enough” feeling, but ultimately you do what you can do.
       My husband’s company fell victim to the economy so my income
       is “the” income and that’s a fair bit of pressure for a children’s
       writer. We’ve done well, but the increase in hours I have to spend
       writing meant something had to give. So now my husband does
       the cooking (though he’s been making noises about jumping ship
       on that chore lately.)

       How do you keep all of your writing deadlines from drowning
       your life as a wife, mother, instructor and writer?

       In terms of mother, I realize my daughter has this amazing
       opportunity that few kids have. Both her parents are now at home
       all the time. Now, a lot of the time I have to work, but when she
       needs me  everything has to take shape around that. She’s first
       because she”s really the future. Whatever I contribute to the
       world, the biggest thing is her because she’s going to continue
       contributing long after I’m gone. But anyway, she literally has a
       parent handy whenever she needs one. Also with my husband
       home and me working at home    we’re together way more than
       we were when I worked less and he worked more.

       Now, writing my own no contracts yet projects is on perpetual
       hold. I have to focus on things I can get paid for. So I’m doing
       work-for-hire and I’m doing my ICL instructor duties and my ICL
       web editor duties. Being web editor is just fun  that’s almost
       my goof off time. Being an instructor is tough sometimes, but I’ve
       been careful not to let that swamp me. And my writing is always a
       joy. Really, I love to write. So whether it’s work-for-hire or a
       magazine story that pops into my head, I’m having a good time if
       I”m writing. The pleasure of much of what I do goes a long way
       toward helping me not to burn out on just how much I have. But
       really, I probably don’t work much over 40 hours a week lots of
       women carry that kind of load.
      
       How long have you been with the ICL and approximately how
       many writing credits do you have?

       I started at an ICL instructor near the end of 2001, so not really all
       that long. Now, writing credits is a little harder and I’m going to
       cheat so I don’t have to go look them up. I’ve been published in
       magazines    both for kids and adults and newspapers. I have
       done odd projects like the twenty storybooks I wrote for a toy
       company to sell with their collectable dolls. I’ve done Children’s
       Church Curriculum. And by the end of this year  I will have
       written 12 books JUST THIS YEAR as work-for-hire projects. Ten
       of them were for an educational company and two are mystery
       novels for adults that are part of a subscription service. I did 8
       books last year. I’m also working on a fantasy series for girls that
       will also sell with a subscription service    I’ve done two of those
       so far. Now, with such very recent finish times, I think I only have
       about nine books you can track down on Amazon.

What influences your writing the most?

       Story. Any kind of story. I realized last year during a really
       intensely busy work time that it was getting harder to write. And
       writing is just not something that “gets hard” for me. I mean,
       plotting can be tricky sometimes and sometimes I have trouble
       getting different things to work out  but I’ve never felt
       “blocked” the way people talk about it. I was just feeling like I was
       dipping from an empty well creatively and it was freaking me out.
       Then I took a moment and realized I’d been so busy I wasn’t
       reading and I wasn’t watching story television or movies (my
       husband loves sports and food shows and building shows but he’s
       not much into story television so if I don’t actively seek out story
       arc television, I don’t see it. Anyway, I realized that by not feeding
       my creative brain on story, I was running from a dry well. I’m one
       of those people who flatly needs to read and to schedule time for
       at least a couple shows or it shows in my ease of writing.
       Jan, from your experience at the ICL which skills are the most
       important for a amateur writer to hone before (s)he starts
       writing?

       A good grasp of mechanics is invaluable. Really, you need to
       know basic grammar and it helps if you get a good writing book
       and read it through to understand some key concepts like point of
       view and the balance of dialogue and narrative. I actually like the
       From Inspiration to Publication book from ICL quite a bit for those
       really key core concepts. I also love Anastasia Suen’s Picture
       Writing as an amazing insight into how our basic nature as visual
       beings really can be used to make all of our writing better  
       fiction and nonfiction. Anyway  get as much of the basics
       down as you can. Then read a lot and widely. That combination is
       probably what I see in my strongest students  the ones that will
       be published soon and often.

       What are you currently working on Jan?

       I’m writing an adaptation of JANE EYRE for use in elementary
       school libraries. The adaptations give the kids a taste of the book,
       hopefully letting them whet their appetites for the real book.
       That’s how I was introduced to a lot of classics I read while still in
       elementary school  we had these books that included story-like
       excerpts from classic works and I feel in love with a lot of
       wonderful books that way.

       I’m also writing the second mystery novel for Annie’s Attic. And
       I”m working on a science fiction series for upper
       elementary/middle school for ABDO  that series is one I
       originated.

       Jan, do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

       Read, read like there’s nothing more important to do. And don’t
       worry about analyzing stuff to death. Mostly read to fill up that
       creative well with story. Reading also feeds the analytical side of
       your brain with structure which will make it easier to accomplish
       story writing. And along with reading write. And try to enjoy
       the writing. As long as you can enjoy the process, you’ll suffer less
       when it comes to the whole job of selling.

       Any final words, Jan?

       Just thanks for asking me to do this. It’s always fun to think about
       writing.

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