1) When did you first discover your love of writing?
I discovered my love of storytelling as a child…
At one point in my childhood, my parents moved us to a location ideal for taking long road trips to landmarks they found interesting but that were not especially interesting for young children. My parents bribed us into good behavior with ice cream. But also, one thing I did to make those long car rides more bearable was make up stories and tell them to my siblings until we fell asleep in the backseat.
My parents were very encouraging of this budding interest (possibly because sleeping young children are easier to deal with than wide-awake young children).
“You should write this story down!”The voice of reason, aka Mom, on multiple occasions
I did not do this. Compared to other activities like playing, the process of sitting down and writing is actually quite tedious if you think about it. It felt like doing homework. Keep in mind that I’m not as young as my blogger handle or immaturity would suggest, so this was before we had a home computer.
Besides, the stories were just as fresh in my head today and tomorrow as they were the day before. I figured I’d write the stories down eventually when I was actually in the mood to do something tedious like writing. I knew I’d remember them.
Fast-forward a couple decades later…
Cousin: [JYP], I remember how you told us such awesome stories when we were little! Remember the one about [insert name of character from a story I had made up about two decades ago]?
Sibling: Yes, that one was the best! Remember? You should write it and publish it!Excerpt from Thanksgiving table conversation approximately 10 years ago.
I had no memory of the story they were talking about. I remembered that it existed and that I told it. But I couldn’t remember anything about it. And this was my story!
Moral of the story:
Write your story down because someday, you’re not going to remember this shit. You should do this even if your story is, in fact, shit [Cousin’s and Sibling’s feedback notwithstanding, pretty much all of my stories from that era were not actually that good, possibly because they were conceived of by a six-year-old (although that’s no excuse because there are talented six-year-old writers)], because the deeply crappy story you write down now could be revised to, or inspire, something halfway-decent later. I have done this with some of my crappy college/early post-college era poems.
2) Would you say that you found your imagination at a young age or when you became older?
I don’t think I developed an imagination until I got older. I think this is because I was a really naïve child, and there’s a lot that’s impossible to imagine if you haven’t experienced anything because you’re sheltered and naïve. The plotlines of my childhood stories tended to revolve around a few not especially imaginative things:
- Cats – because I really wanted a cat and at the time, my parents would not get one
- Disney Princesses – because I was a child of the 90s which was the golden era of animated Disney movies
- Game shows – because the only thing I was more obsessed with than Disney movies at that age was game shows
Even today, “imagination” for me manifests in the form of imaginative juxtapositions of images, cutting language, and creative metaphors in poetry. I’m not (and never have been) inventive enough to conceive of fantasy worlds or sci-fi scenarios. My imagination is boring, I suppose.
3) What is your favorite genre to write about? (Example: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, True Crime, etc.)
I love how this question presumes I do enough genre-specific fiction writing across a large enough array of genres such that I have a favorite genre. ~90% of the writing I do is complaining on my blog, sometimes in brutally honest and/or poetic ways. Here is a list of the media in which I dabble:
- Poetry – I have a category on my blog for poetry and it’s one of my most frequently used tags. (I should rethink this, actually, because I really didn’t want this blog to be a poetry blog). Anyway, I write poetry because I find it comparatively easy, and I am lazy. By easy, I mean that poetry does not necessarily require any of the following:
- Any other massively important element required for good fiction except for creative use of language and imagery. Poetry really needs imagery.
- Parody lyrics to songs – I enjoy writing parody lyrics to existing songs. This makes me feel musically creative even though I have no idea how to write music [which is why I only write (and occasionally sing) parody lyrics].
- Fiction(?) – Not sure this counts as “dabbling” exactly, but I took a workshop on starting a novel, wrote a scene, and it turned out to be a pretty decent scene! I’m honestly impressed that I did the following:
- came up with several characters who are not me,
- created conflict,
- wrote some realistic-sounding dialogue,
- and managed some humor!
Now I just have to figure out how to turn said scene into a whole novel. Which quite sounds daunting. Writers of novels, how do you do this?
4) Do you ever get “writer’s block”? If so, do you have a reason of why it happens?
I don’t believe in “writer’s block”.
Do I think there are times when you don’t feel inspired to write? Yes. Do I think there are times when everything you write is complete crap? Hell yeah! Do I think there are times when you’ll feel stuck and unable to figure how to revise a piece that isn’t working? Happens all the time.
But “writer’s block” implies something preventing one from putting words of any kind on the page, and I don’t think this exists. You can always write something. If you take away the mentality that all the writing that you produce has to be good 100% of the time, if you give yourself a prompt or do some stream of consciousness journaling to jumpstart the creative juices, if you give yourself a deadline, or if someone else gives you a deadline that you have to meet, you’ll get over that so-called “writer’s block”.
5) Can you tell me something that I do not know that you do not mind sharing about your style of writing?
My writing style (complaints about my overall pleasant life, being pessimistic, witty responses to poetry prompts, brutal honesty and humor, major oversharing and TMI, and thoughts related to Judaism/the Jewish world) is pretty self-evident from my blog.
So instead, I will share part of conversation I had recently and pose a discussion question for the comments:
Fellow Writing Retreat Attendee: So how long have you been a writer?
JYP: Well, I don’t know that I’d call myself a “writer”-
FWRA: You are literally at a writing retreat right now.
JYP: Anyone could sign up for this retreat. That just means I had no other plans this weekend. I don’t write professionally, I’ve never been published….
JYP: The only writing I really do regularly is on my blog.
FWRA: That counts! You’re a blogger. That makes you a writer.
JYP: It’s not the same thing.
FWRA: How is that not the same thing?
JYP: I think I’d characterize it this way: Blogging is to writing what karaoke is to singing.
What makes someone a writer? Do you describe yourself / consider yourself to be a writer? Is being a writer part of your identity? Does Blogging = Writing? Is Blogging the Karaoke of Writing? (By the way, I am not knocking blogging or karaoke; I credit karaoke as being a source of life lessons and wisdom).