Posted by jennifer gibson on Thursday, January 26, 2012
I've been interviewed many, many times since I was a teen.  I became a public speaker at the age of 17, traveling to different schools, hearing aid companies, various government task forces and associations, giving speeches on dealing with a hearing loss.  It was never my intention to go down that particular path, I had no desire whatsoever to be in that role, it just happened naturally.  I kept getting approached by teachers, counsellors, audiologists, and so on to help boost morale or guide their staff towards providing a more compassionate approach to hearing impaired young adults.  Ironically, this was not my first exposure to the public eye, I've been in the newspapers since I was 3 years old.

Public speaking came naturally to me, very much like writing or doing art.  I had no fear in trying out new things, particularly towards the creative aspects.  Mind you, I had to work much harder than everyone in school just to keep up with them.  So whenever someone, namely a reporter, asks me "Was I always interested in writing?", the answer is yes and no.  I did a lot of poems when I was younger and they were published in various newsletters and books. It wasn't a huge deal for me since I enjoyed doing it.  The more I wrote, particularly stories, the more attention I received from my teachers.  They always praised it and suggested that I consider becoming a professional writer.  Back then, it never crossed my mind to even go in that direction. 

It wasn't until high school when I had to choose my own courses that I had to begin to really take that into consideration. Ironically, I really struggled with English Writing at that time.  I was still getting my stories and poems published but it was never good enough for my teachers, they always something to gripe about. 

Then when I went to Sheridan College and took Creative Writing as an extra course credit, I excelled at it, I got straight A's.  Those teachers were so impressed that they really pushed me to focus on my writing.  College was a busy time for me, I was taking Illustration, one of the most intense and time consuming programs to take, as well as studying martial arts and playing for two hockey teams all at the same time.  Looking back at it now, I don't know how I did it and maintained my sanity. 

After I graduated, my focus shifted to artwork and illustration, primarily in pursuit of employment.  My writing got placed on the back burner as a result.  It wasn't until I decided to go back to another College for post graduate work that I started to concentrate on my writing.  I took a lot of classes which engaged me into all sorts of challenges that were actually fun to do and really helped get through my fear of writing dialogue.  I had no problems doing action scenes or describing the surrounding environment, scripts had a tendency to slow me down.  Now, I love doing it, it's so much fun and easy to do.  Why?  Practice, practice, practice.  Taking those courses really forced me to pay attention to certain details and find my niche.  It took a long time but I found it.  It just clicked.

Another thing that also helped, writing in my journal at night.  It may sound rather cliche or corny, but it essentially kept my writing style on track.  And recording those dreams was a lifesaver, many of them ended up in my books and short stories.  Even jotting down interesting events like a tornado ripping through the town or an ice storm crippling the community can help find a way to describe those situations so that they feel real.  When you look back at it, you can get a sense of what it was like to go through it. 

Whenever someone asks me "I want to be a writer, what should I do?", I always recommend taking creative writing classes.  Get a journal, record those dreams and day to day activities.  Practice by entering short stories into contests.  One of the most famous lines is "Write what you know" and that is most certainly true.  All three of my novels are based on my life as teen, there is a tangible link to reality right there which provides a direct connection to the reader.  It helps immensely to have some truth behind it because the readers want to live through it, vicariously.

One last thing, I've been asked, "Is writing hard work?".  Yes.  Sometimes after writing intense and gripping scenes, particularly long ones, I'm often left feeling exhausted.  My books have taken an average of 8 months to produce, that's nearly a year of work.  It may seem like an easy job but in reality, it's not.  Especially when there is virtually no income until that book is completed.  Whenever I focus on my writing, everything else gets ignored, all my priorities get shifted around.  Only the paying jobs, like a quick graphic design assignment or photo shoot, will be considered then it's back to writing more chapters.  Which means that I tend to disappear from the community to work at home.  It's a lonely job sometimes and a very isolating experience but it's the only way to get it done without a thousand distractions. 

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