I am very pleased to welcome “SPOTLIGHT” Author, Janelle Jalbert, to my blog today.
Janelle is such a supportive member of Rave Reviews Book Club, including being active on our Tweet Support Team. We’re lucky to have members like her!!
Blog Topic: Writing Process
Summoning the Magician
Typically, discussions of a writer’s process revolve around the delineation between a “plotter” and a “pantser”. In other words, authors tend to align with either the meticulous planning out of details or they write by the seat of their pants. It’s nice and neat, but does the creative process really break down in an easy binary matter that reflects more science than artistry?
In my case, the answer is NO. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to create pieces that cover the full spectrum of what can be viewed as writing. My background includes everything from hum-drum world of SEO content for businesses to novels to informational non-fiction and memoirs…not to mention short stories, sports reports, academic pieces, and the ubiquitous email. There’s a different purpose and a different goal for each of those types of writing, so it would be disingenuous to claim a simple plot or pants approach works for everything.
Instead, I like to think of myself as a magician. I summon thoughts, connections, and insights into a unique potion that manifests as a written piece. It is why I say that my writing “celebrates the magic of everyday life”. There is magic everywhere, even in a single moment, if you are willing to see it. That was at the heart of my leap into fiction with FLASH 40: Life’s Moments. Recognizing the magic and sharing it with others, in hopes that readers can see the magic in their own lives. Like Stephen King said in his autobiography On Writing, “Books are a uniquely portable magic”. Therefore, I embrace the role of magician.
Priming the Cauldron: Getting Ideas Bubbling and Juices Flowing
There are two points in the writing process that I enjoy the most. The first is while formulating the initial concepts and informal outline. I call it the percolating stage. That is where I let the idea bubble and bounce around in my head like a cauldron. I have to keep a notepad handy all the time because my brain doesn’t ever really shut off when it is cooking up an idea or strategy. It’s as if everything begins to vibrate at a different level while my brain works on an idea. The brainstorming process often manifests as a nervous type of energy even in my physical body, which can be entertaining (or nerve-wracking) for those around me, but I absolutely love it. That’s when I begin to see connections, and the “juice” behind a piece begins to flow.
The second point in the writing process that makes me nearly vibrate right out of my skin is when a piece takes on a life of its own. In fiction, it begins when the characters take over, and I can honestly feel like they are right there in the moment. I know it’s really clicking when I arrive at my computer with a plan for a scene, and the characters seem to pat me on the back patiently, smile, and say “that’s nice, but this is what really happens.” That trust between my characters and me translates into developments that take my writing to a place far beyond what I could ever envision or hope for when starting. That’s truly where the magic happens!
It might seem that non-fiction writing would preclude that type of magic, but I have found the opposite to be true. Yes, writing non-fiction means that the writer has to stay true to facts and reality, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be “just the facts, ma’am” like Dragnet’s Joe Friday. The magic happens when you combine and connect things in new ways that reflect a unique perspective on the subject. Part of that drive probably comes from my “teacher side” after a decade in the classroom, but writing non-fiction makes the author a teacher, regardless of whether you ever set foot in the classroom as a teacher.
Bringing It All Together: The Price to Be Paid
While my “pantser” side allows me to explore as I write – letting my inner magician to come out – there is a price to be paid. It comes in the form of more extensive editing than many “plotters” need to endure, especially with fiction. I tend to keep my work close through at least a half dozen editing cycles while I transition from creator to refiner. From there, it can often take up to twenty more read-throughs between me and a team of others before my “book baby” seems close to birth.
It can be frustrating – like a woman who is past her due date to give birth to a physical baby – but often it is in that period of waiting and tweaking that the most brilliant leaps are made. In TRIANGULATING BLISS, I was literally weeks away from publication and still felt like the protagonist Greg was holding out on me even after more than two dozen rounds of editing. I had a no-holds-barred sit down and found out about a whole backstory that took the novel to another level and fleshed out the character in a way I didn’t see coming (of course it meant a frantic re-working of the initial chapters of the novel too). For WINGDOG: Soul Pup, I began writing it as a form of therapy. If the four year process for the memoir to be published had been rushed, the meat of the story – in the form of how everything came together to create magic – would have been lost. It took those four years to get clear, not only about what happens within the covers but also about the larger purpose to all that unfolded. It would have probably still been good, but that extra wait time is what was necessary for the magic to appear.
So in the end, my writing process is not black or white, plot or pants. It’s about seeking and seizing the magic in doing something that I truly love and know that I was meant to do.
Janelle Jalbert discovered her passions at the age of 10. One was teaching, as she taught stuffed animals daily lessons. The other was writing, thanks to her love of reading. After reading about an aspiring writer in her favorite book series, the light bulb clicked on, and Jalbert said “I want to do that!” Thus, her writing career began with serialized stories for her friends.
Then, the cries to pursue a “stable” career won out over her dreams of writing.
After college, Jalbert taught language arts and writing at all levels. While deciding on a topic for her master’s thesis, Jalbert stumbled into the world of Magical Realism and was hooked, though at first it was limited to academic interest. Jalbert wrote while teaching including an educational book, contributing to a business book, blogging and reporting on education. Once Jalbert transitioned to online teaching, she simultaneously taught and served as a motorsports reporter and photographer while traveling the country for racing events.
It was during this time of pursuing education and a passion for motorsports that Jalbert took a leap of faith and relocated from Southern California to North Carolina. The move proved to be challenging in its own right. In trying to establish a new normal, Jalbert learned of a pup that had been rescued on the side of the highway after being dumped. Meeting Goose was a life changing experience for human and canine alike. It is that bond that is the focus of Jalbert’s latest release WINGDOG: Soul Pup, A Magical Mutt Memoir.
It took nearly five years for the ‘dog tale’ to see the light of day. In that time, Jalbert had an epiphany and realized that her love of writing was where her true passion lies. In the process of rededicating herself to the craft, Jalbert was faced with numerous heart-breaking challenges that tested her tenacity, yet her writing remained her lighthouse during dark times.
Jalbert seized any writing opportunity that presented itself, from copywriting to ghostwriting non-fiction books. The momentum and focus Jalbert maintained amid personal turmoil lead to her first book contract for a wine-themed book. While drafting WINE FOR BEGINNERS, she took the plunge and came out of the shadows with her fiction writing. Initially, Jalbert dabbled with a contributor role for an online flash fiction magazine. The work with the magazine gave her confidence to publish her first fiction title, FLASH 40: Life’s Moments, which went on to win the Silver Medal for Anthologies in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards.
In 2015, following the release of both a fiction and a non-fiction title, Jalbert’s new debut novel, TRIANGULATING BLISS, medalist for cross-genre fiction in the 2015 New Apple Book Awards. The first book in THE MYSTIQUE OF LIVING SERIES was released after two years of drafting, editing and planning during the most challenging years Jalbert had ever faced. The tale of living life to the fullest provided a touchstone for Jalbert, as she worked to reorganize her life once more, and illustrated the common theme in her literary projects: a celebration of the magic in everyday life.
Now, more than five years after the events that inspired WINGDOG: Soul Pup, Jalbert shares how the special bond between human and animal can be a case of unending love and loyalty that can overcome even the greatest of obstacles. It’s true, a dog may be a man’s best friend, but a wingdog is truly a woman’s gift.
In addition to her teaching and writing background, Jalbert loves to explore the world. Jalbert has traveled throughout Japan, Australia, Europe, the United States and other destinations. Her travels are often solo ventures with as little as a wallet, backpack and passport. Her interests include auto racing, the guilty pleasure of a story with a happily-ever-after, a glass or two of good wine, and some cooking therapy. Jalbert currently lives in Southern California with her rescue pups and regularly returns to her second home in North Carolina. To learn more about Janelle Jalbert and her current/upcoming releases and promotions visit www.triangulatingbliss.com or www.janellejalbert.com.
WINGDOG: Soul Pup will be released on Amazon, March 7, with full release across most major retailers in June 2016.
Thank you so much for joining us today!! Your support is greatly appreciated!!!
Please continue showing your support to Janelle by visiting the “SPOTLIGHT” Author page on the RRBC website.
Until next time, lovelies……… Happy Reading & Reviewing!!