WaterCoolerConvos

Blog Tour: My Writing Process

Jenn-Jackson-BioI don’t often talk about my writing. And, I haven’t ever really reflected on my “process” until I was asked to do this blog tour. Because writing is secondary to my work as an activist and educator, I rarely take time to really reflect on the hows and whys of my writing work. So, I was pleasantly surprised and humbled when Wendy Babiak of “What I Meant to Say” invited me to participate in the blog tour. Make sure that you read about her blog tour and writing process.

These are my reflections on my writing work presently and what’s to come in the future.

1) What are you working on?

I am working on so many things. I am developing a few personal narratives which are really some of the most private stories I have shared since I started writing. I am convinced that this vulnerability is a good thing. It’s terrifying but good I think. I have a piece I am putting together for a very well known magazine that walks through one of the most intimate moments in my life. It really delves into the structural influences on who I am today while highlighting the larger socio-political narratives facing black girls in America.

I think this kind of reflective work is important because it sends inter-generational ripples to those who are to share their stories later. Seeing personal narratives from others who overcome adversity inspires. I want to share my failures and successes so that young women will feel valid, important, and able to do the same.

2) How does your work differ from others’ work in the same genre?

My work differs from others in the genre because of my unique life experiences. Because I have not yet completed my PhD, I am not quite an academic writer. And, since I didn’t go to journalism school, I am not the refined journalist either. I am just winging this. I decided a long time ago not to write anything that didn’t feel natural. I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t make writing a “job”. It could be my vocation, but it should never have such a somber and mundane moniker. Because of that attitude and its interspersion with my homegrown communication style, I think I am very different from my peers.

3) Why do you write what you do?

I write what I do because I think there just aren’t enough people willing to say the uncomfortable truths about social justice, black womanhood, and the adverse impacts of hyper-corporatism in this country. I have always been fearless in the face of authority and political correctness. I was the one who wanted to setup a petition because a teacher seemed to grade unfairly. Or, I called a meeting because of perceived favoritism in my department. Sometimes I’m called a shit starter, but the truth is that I am passionate about justice (which is oddly why I’m not a lawyer). I want to fight for the little guy. That’s what my writing is inherently and inextricably about. Even my ranting pieces about celebrities are interlaced with my desires to see them improve and better represent their demographic. I am just wired that way. So, I write about it too.

4) How does your writing process work?

This question is loaded. Why? Because it implies that a) I should have a writing process, and/or b) I should be aware of how said process works. I have neither. I write what I feel. My husband and I will sometimes volley a piece back and forth a few times when we think that it fits better in one or the other’s wheelhouse. But, for the most part, my writing is just as planned as the words that come out of my mouth. I get fired up and I have to share it with someone.

For the pieces that I pitch to publications I don’t own, there are obviously a few more steps than that. I always let my lede write itself before I even pitch a story. I sometimes think of stories randomly but I get the lede down on paper as soon as possible and I stew over it until it speaks to me. I never make outlines. I write each paragraph (graf) as an individual thought. I let the pieces write themselves. And, while I tend to do a lot of editing on the backend, I am usually pleased with my first-ish draft.

Lastly, I don’t overthink any piece ever. I used to. I have since stopped. The ones I overthink turn out terrible. To me, that proves that writing isn’t really a brain thing; it’s about heart. That’s why so many people suck at it.

I am handing the #mywritingprocess baton off to Olivia A. Cole. She is an author, blogger, and activist whose first novel, Panther in the Hive, was released in April 2014. She blogs at her self-titled site.

And, to the lovely Toni Cunningham who is an aspiring screenwriter and the author of Splash of Tonic as well as a contributing blogger to a few additional websites.

Thanks for joining me on this blog tour and please check these talented young women out. I am a huge fan of both of them. And, it’ll be nice one day to look back and say, “I knew her when….”

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Jenn M. Jackson

Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief
Jenn M. Jackson is one half of the Water Cooler Convos team. She is a native of Oakland, CA, resided in sunny SoCal for a decade, and now lives in the Chicago suburbs. Bringing the bourgie and good measure of the nerdy, she fearlessly writes about politics, pop culture, and whatever other topics in black America have firmly planted a bee in her bonnet.

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