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An Indirect Path

Today’s Electric Moccasin features another interview excerpt which originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of Gettysburg, the alumni magazine for Gettysburg College, Jen Bryant’s alma mater.

How did a French and secondary ed major end up writing novels and children’s books?

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I suppose I never perceived my major as a boundary. I’m convinced that my liberal arts background fed my natural curiosity and provided me with the critical thinking skills that I use every day. That being said, I did teach French and German (my minor) at a high school in Fairfax, Va. for several years after graduation. When I landed my first book contract with a small Maryland publisher (their office was above a pet shop), I was scared to death. I didn’t even own a computer, was a new mother, and had no creative writing degree. What I did have, though, was confidence in my ability to research, to write clearly, and to solve problems.

Many liberal arts grads feel they have a book in them. What advice do you have?

Book-TitleThe digital age has given everyone access to self-publishing, so if your goal is to see your name on a book cover, you need only download a software program and voila. But … if your goal is to become a writer of stories, poems, or nonfiction that lasts and has an impact on people’s lives, then you need to approach it the same way you would painting, dancing, or musicianship: study the masters; imitate their techniques but in your own style and voice; submit your work, but expect it to be rejected most of the time; write for several hours each day; and never, ever give up! 

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