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?
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?
The 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!