On this episode of A Day in the Life we meet Jessica Love, a YA writer and recent graduate. If you’d like to be featured email me, my address is below.
Now let’s hear from Jessica.
When did you graduate?
Just graduated! Summer 2016 in Rome.
Where do you live?
Orange County, California
What are you favorite books?
Oh man, that’s so impossible to answer.
This Lullaby by Sarah by Sarah Dessen and the Jessica Darling series (starting with Sloppy Firsts) are the books that made me fall in love with YA.
Do you hold a full-time job other than writing?
What do you do?
I do! I teach high school English.
What part of writing do you like most?
To paraphrase Dorothy Parker…having written. It’s amazing that I spend so much time writing seeing as I hate it so much when I’m doing it.
Do you work with an outline or just wing it?
I have to wing it for a bit, then I go back and outline. If I completely wing it, my characters just stand around talking for chapters at a time.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I do, but I’ve found that if you have writer’s block it’s because you don’t know enough about your story. So I try to do some writing exercises that help me learn more about my world.
Do you listen to music while writing-if so, what kind?
I have to listen to music, but it can’t be anything that will distract me. So music with no lyrics (I love Explosions in the Sky) is great, or music that I’m so familiar with that I don’t have to pay any attention to it. I have done some of my best writing listeing to the same song on repeat several hours in a row.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Read a lot, play with my kiddo/ hang out with my family, sleep if I get a chance to.
Can you tell us about an upcoming project?
I just started a new project that is a young adult romance with a ghost.
Where can we find your work?
I have 2 young adult novels published with St. Martin’s Press- PUSH GIRL (co-written with Chelsie Hill) and IN REAL LIFE.
What does your daily schedule look like?
I rise at around 4:30 am to the dulcet tones of my 1 year old fussing around in his crib, irritated over some dream that has now woken both of us. I manage to coax him back to sleep just as my own alarm is sounding for the day at 5:15.
I shuffle around in the half-darkness trying to get myself ready for the day, and I’m in my classroom, guzzling coffee and ready to shape young minds, by 7:15 am. School doesn’t start until 8:08, and I don’t even have a 1st period class, so I definitely don’t need to be here this early. But these are literally the only moments of silence I have all day, so I cherish them.
Once school starts, it’s a constant flow of teenagers in my face asking weird questions and completely ignoring everything I ask them to do. We’re reading the short story “The Most Dangerous Game” today, and when I ask them if they think it’s fair that the hunt-er in the story has a gun and the hunt-ee has a knife, they all say that it is.
My lunch break is exactly 30 min, and it is in this time that I a) scarf down a lunch that consists of a protein shake and an apple, b0 dash to the bathroom because I’ve been holding it since our nutrition break 2.5 hours ago, and c) squeeze in some writing. I’m working. I’m working on a new book with characters I don’t know yet, so I’m trying to write a ch1 and see how it goes. I turn on WriteOrDie, set it to 500 words/10 min, and I just start going. I’ve been actively thinking on this scene for the entire morning, so it’s not too difficult to bust it out quickly. I don’t worry about making my words pretty or having it even make sense, really. I just try to get it to exist so I can fix it later. I manage to get in 2 10-minute sessions because I keep writing as the kids walk in for 5th period.
I have two more classes that are more of the same. When school gets out, I have about an hour or so to clean up my classroom, prep for the next day, and do a little grading before it’s time to go home.
My husband picked up the kiddo from daycare, and I hang out with the little guy until my husband finishes work. We sing and read books and play games and he tries to throw my cell phone in the toilet. When my husband gets off work, he makes dinner, we scarf it down, then give the baby a bath and put him to bed. Now is when we both breathe a sigh of relief because this child wears us out. (He is currently slapping his little hand on the keyboard as I type this, so I apologize for the typosesza).
This leaves me about an hour and a half to myself before I go to bed at 10pm. Do I write? Or clean up around the house? Or read? Or just collapse on the couch because I’m exhausted? It depends on the day. Today I decide to look at those words I pounded out at lunch and make a quick plan for what I’ll work on tomorrow during my short lunch break. Then I collapse on the couch and actually pass out there. My husband pokes me and tells me to go to bed, so I crawl up the stairs, flop into bed, and get ready to do it again tomorrow.
Trying to be a writer with a full time job and a small child isn’t for the weak. I have to purposely carve out time to write and protect it fiercely. I love WriteOrDie for drafting because it forces me to get words written and not get caught up in self-editing, which would keep me from being productive at all. And I have to remember that, as busy as I am, I always have at least a little time to write. I only wrote for 20 minutes total today, but now I have 1,000 words I didn’t have yesterday. That’s how novels get written.
I’m looking for contributors for the following posts:
DEAR SOARING!: Send me your questions to be featured on the blog. Other alumni will help in answering your questions.
Where in the World: Where have you gone recently? Send me a picture with information on your trip and any writing you may have done about the trip.
Creating Characters: Let’s round up some times on creative realistic characters for our writing. I want to share your tips.
Awards and Accolades of Alumni: Time to brag! What have you accomplished recently? I want to help spread the word and show just how great our alumni really are.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured.
Mackenzie Jervis is a Summer 2016 Graduate. She lives in Texas with her husband, two cats, and puppy. She has way too many books, more cameras than she knows how to properly use, and a never ending need to keep moving. She write about her life and adventures at home and around the world at A Wandering Scribbler.