The Writer’s Room: Jodie How

Writing can often be a solo journey. Though family and friends are ‘supportive’ of our desire to write, it’s really only other writers that can truly understand what it means to be a writer. Unfortunately, I don’t have the ability to join a physical writer’s group. But I’ve been so fortunate to meet an array of wonderful writers online.

Because I feel so grateful to have had the access and opportunity to engage with such wonderful, like minded people, I thought it would be nice to invite some of them over to the blog to share a bit about themselves. I’m calling this series, ‘The Writer’s Room’.

I hope this virtual Writer’s Room helps other emerging writers like myself find new people to engage with online, (and maybe even in person!), learn some tips and tricks, or just feel more confident about their own approaches when hearing from other people who are also navigating the world of writing.

I’m so very pleased to welcome my first guest and very good friend, Jodie How.

Jodie lives in the South West of Western Australia with her husband, five-year-old son, cat and dog. She is an avid consumer of a large range of stories, from very old classics, biographies and romance through to modern psychological thrillers and horror fiction (including everything in between).

Jodie has been writing part-time for five years and has recently been print published in the anthology, Twisted Tales 2016. She writes both short and long fiction, poetry and online articles. You can find her at Twitter and motionandmusings.com

 

  1. First of all, can you talk us through your writing process a little bit? 

I’m an ‘emotional writer’ so my writing process isn’t especially ‘clean cut’ and my stories are often heavy.

I rarely start with a well-considered structure but I’m not a complete ‘pantser’ either. I always start writing a story with a definite character in mind (including their name), a very general idea of plot and theme and one or two prominent, defined emotions that will underpin the story.

Once I’ve finished the first draft, I edit and rewrite profusely. In between redrafts, I request feedback and gather critiques from various people.

Generally, my work explores one or two central emotions over a big idea or dilemma. My writing is, above all else, character focused.

 

  1. Why do you write and what do you hope to get out of it?

I write for many reasons. One reason is that I just cannot not write. I get very grumpy and hard to live with when I haven’t written. In fact, I don’t function well at all. Writing is a positive creative outlet for me.

I write because creating a truly wonderful story feels almost impossible for me to achieve. The sheer challenge of reaching storytelling excellence through writing excites and motivates me.

And I write because I’m a curious soul, a deep thinker and a deep feeler who must explore both the world and the human psyche – endlessly.

I’m passionate about stories and their important role in our lives. I’m awed by how rich combinations of language can convey such depth of meaning. I’m fascinated by written communication and how it can string human hearts together.

I want my stories to touch the hearts of readers and help provide some level of emotional healing. I long for my work to provoke depth of thought.

It would be a dream come true to be print published more that half a dozen times.

If history is anything to go by, I’m expecting that writing will open all sort of doors for me and I’m so excited about discovering these opportunities.

I hope that writing will take me around the world. I’m itching to immerse myself in other cultures, make far-reaching connections and just be a blessed partaker of this diverse life in all its beauty, both close and far from home.

If my writing ever leads to collaborative projects with other writers or artists from other industries, I will consider myself died and gone to heaven!

 

  1. Who or what are some of your biggest influencers?

As for all writers, favourite authors are a big influence on my desire to write. (I have too many literary idols to list!)

The ambitious part of my personality is a huge influencer on my productivity because I just have to feel like I’m moving forward. Even if the goal is tiny and it takes me a long time to achieve it (which it always does) – I still must achieve. I’m just wired to win, I guess – even though I don’t always win.

I don’t want this to sound overly spiritual and abstract but destiny is huge for me. It’s something I believe in and am very aware of. Knowing that writing is a big part of what I’m meant to do with my life keeps me focused. It makes me get up from falls time and time again. (I’m always falling, getting up, dusting myself off and putting the boxing gloves back on, ready to fight again.)

Past successes and past failures influence me too. I try my best to use them as leverage to push me forward.

 

  1. What sort of training / study have you undertaken as part of your writing journey? And have you found it useful?

I’m a ‘Jill of all trades’ so I don’t have any special writing qualifications, to date. I only committed seriously to writing five years ago, so I did a lot of other things in life before finding my real passion, which is writing.

I’ve done countless workshops, a few short courses and one weekend writers retreat. All of these have given me something new to apply to my writing, which has ultimately propelled me forward. Even listening to author interviews at writers festivals have been hugely educational and encouraging.

 

  1. Do you have any advice for other emerging writers?

Aha! The real question here is, ‘what’s the word count limit’? I’ll try to keep it short.

Recognise and capitalise on every single opportunity that comes your way. Grab each one in a full body hug and see it through.

Keep comparison in your closet. She’s a useless bitch.

Pay attention to, and effectively use, your gut instinct – not only for your writing but also for your writing journey.

Work hard and never, ever give up. Redraft your work until your eyes bleed, and then redraft it again.

Stick with your characters – don’t abandon them just because you can’t nail their story.

Be brave. Put your work out there. Now. Don’t wait until next year. Start submitting your writing today. Professional feedback is invaluable.

 

 

Weekend Wanderings – June Long Weekend

We’re just off the back of a long weekend here in South Australia, for the Queen’s Birthday. Thanks Liz! It’s the pay-off we get for continuing to fall under the monarchy as opposed to putting our big-girl pants on and becoming a republic.

Though I didn’t technically get a ‘day off’ because I don’t work on Monday’s (not in any paid capacity at least), I did take the day off of my usual writing schedule (usually Monday-Friday). I made a conscious decision to immerse myself in my family, and revel in having my husband home for an extra day out of the week. When your usual company is a 10 month old who spends his days drooling, eating and sleeping, having extra ‘adult time’ becomes a prized commodity.

We’d been away for a night visiting my in-laws on the Saturday, and we decided to use Sunday and Monday to get some long overdue projects finished in the garden. You see, I’ve been without a vegetable garden for about 6 months now. Something I never thought would happen once I’d finally got them planted up when we moved into the house in late 2014.

Any pretense of a summer patch was disassembled when we went overseas for the month of December 2016. I didn’t plant anything knowing I wouldn’t be home to water for that time, and there was no way we could rely on any sort of rainfall to get us through. Couple that with the fact that my raised beds made from hay bales were in desperate need of replacing, we made the decision to pull them up and replace them with something more permanent.

Here we are 6 months later and only just managing to fit the pallet beds my brother made with interior walls, ready for soil. So, two of the four I had envisioned are now done and ready for planting. We also constructed some steps to lead down into our garden, which you can see in the background of the below picture. These still need to be filled, but after 2.5 years living on a hill with a slope down to our garden, this progress feels like a win.

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Though I had a jolly time playing with the drill and other tools, that one day off of my routine set me into a mini motivational melt down, meaning I didn’t really get anything written on my manuscript until Thursday. Though it’s only three days that I’ve deviated from my schedule, it feels like an inconceivable loss. If I want to meet my target of completing this draft by 30 October, I’ll need to up my minimum word count, or pick up an extra day of writing. None of this is catastrophic, and I don’t regret spending the day the way I did.

It just occurs to me that, in all aspects of work, schedule slippage occurs. But for a writer, it really is up to us to keep on top of our own milestones and deadlines.

I’m determined to meet my self-imposed deadline, because if I end up getting published, the deadlines will no longer be self-imposed.