Christine’s Note: The last Take 5 Friday of every month will be a 5 question interview with a writer.
Jaye Wells is a best-selling writer who is best known for her urban fantasy novels but she is also the author of High Lonesome Sound, a Southern Gothic novel that is one of the most delightfully unsettling books I have ever read.
In addition to her own writing, Jaye coaches individual writers and she teaches writing workshops through Writing Workshops Dallas.
1) What themes do you find yourself revisiting in your writing?
A big one is magic serving as a metaphor for personal power. The struggle to be oneself versus wanted to be accepted. Moral ambiguity and the inherent corruption in systems. Generational trauma and the damaging effects of secrets. That all sounds pretty dark and serious, but my stories also are filled with a lot of humor aimed at sacred cows.
2) Do you find yourself compelled to write or do you have to coax yourself into it?
Being compelled to write is not the same as sitting down to do it. I want to write a lot, but I often still have to coax myself to do it. I use rituals to make it a more special event–light a candle, play special music, etc. I have also had to adjust my expectations. It’s better to write one page than no pages, but often I get into the bad headspace of “If you don’t write ten pages you’re wasting your time” so I don’t write any. Which makes no sense, but I think it’s a common issue. Something’s better than nothing.
On the other hand, I’ve also learned that sometimes my resistance has a purpose. Either I haven’t done enough research or brainstorming, or I took a wrong turn somewhere and haven’t realized it yet.
3) What are your obstacles to writing and how do you get around them?
Procrastination is tough (especially now with the lockdown) and the Internet is the devil. Basically, I’m my own biggest obstacle. I get around myself by having routines and rituals, as I mentioned earlier, and also by having a group of friends who I can trust to tell me to get over myself.
4) What practical advice do you most often share with other writers?
Go where the juice is. If you’re struggling to write a scene or don’t know what comes next, then jump to the next thing you do know or the next thing you want to write. We get so stuck in the mindset that we have to write the next thing on the list, but then bang our heads against the keyboard for days. This goes back to the idea of something is better than nothing.
5) What non-writing activity do you do that most helps you with your writing?
I have lots of little interests–cooking, tarot, painting, gardening. This didn’t used to be the case. I used to be a workaholic. All I did was write, talk about writing, go to writing events, and talk to other writers. Then I burned out and realized that I needed some creative outlets that weren’t connected to my income or my ego. So I picked up some for-fun things that I don’t have any ego stakes in. I’m not a great painter and never will be, so I get to be free to just have fun. Same with my other activities–they remind me how to have fun creating. Ironically, this has taught me why I started to write in the first place, which makes writing more fun, too.