On this episode of A Day in the Life we meet 2016 graduate Jessica Evans, a fiction writer and sometimes poet currently located in Lawton, Oklahoma. Jessica gives us some great advice she’s learned from her day job as a journalist and some insight into how she clears her mind to get ready for her fiction. If you’d like to be featured email me, my address is below.
When did you graduate? 2016
What genre do you write? Fiction, but I also like to write poetry
Where do you live? Currently, I live in Lawton, OK.
What are your favorite books? There are too many to list but here are a few of my favorite books: The Bhagavad Gita, Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis, Jesus Sun by Denis Johnson, This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas, Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann, Great Expectations by Dickens, Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish, War and Peace by Tolstoy,and any and all e.e. cummings poetry,
Do you hold a full-time job other than writing? Yes.
What do you do? I’m a journalist for the Fort Sill Tribune and I teach ESL online.
What part of writing do you like the most? I hate to love editing as much as I do, but really, it’s the best. I like to think of my first and second drafts as the ingredients for making something. They don’t look like much until they’re fused together. That’s what editing is to me – it’s the ability to clean up my original ideas into something that’s easily read, something that’s enjoyable, something that folks want to continue to read.
Do you work with an outline or just wing it? It depends on what I’m writing and how complex I’m trying to make my story lines. For my current project, I have outlines upon outlines, character maps, family trees and words lists all relating to the manuscript.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? All. The. Time. If I psych myself out too much, I can’t write. So I try to have the same prep for each writing session. It helps with any blocks I might have.
Do you listen to music while writing- if so, what kind? Music is a must. It depends on what I’m writing, but generally, classical baroque music seems to be most conducive to my writing. It also depends on the time of day that I’m writing, so that’s not a hard and fast rule for me.
What do you do when you’re not writing? When I’m not writing, I’m in the gym. I’m really into Olympic weightlifting and running. It helps clear my mind.
Can you tell us about an upcoming project? My current work in progress is a collection of interlocking vignettes. It takes place all across the country from Missouri to West Virginia and it’s been a lot of fun to write.
Where can we find your work? A list of publications can be found at http://www.jessicarevans.com My poetry chapbook, Learn to Find is available on Amazon, as is my debut novel, Hippie Mafia.
What does your daily schedule look like?
It depends on the day, but I’m generally awake by 530. That gives me enough time to center and meditate a bit before heading to my office at Fort Sill. My assignments for the newspaper vary by week, so there’s no real telling what I’ll be doing during ‘working hours.’ I generally have some time at the office to write at least 500 words, which is super helpful to keep my mind in my current story. After work finishes at 4p, I’m at the gym until six. My time at the bar clears my head, gets me out of Army/AP style and back into the groove/voice of how I usually write. Then home to write for a few hours before reading and heading to bed. Occasionally I’ll deviate from this schedule but not when I’m trying to finish a word count and I have a self-imposed deadline. I’ve tasked myself with having this latest manuscript complete by 24 March which is NOT that far away at all!
I’m really fortunate that I work as a writer, so my head is always in the game. Even if I’m writing articles about something totally unrelated, I’m still forced to create and to work on deadlines all week long. This helps me a lot with my personal writing. I think my lofty goals would be much more challenging if I had a job where I wasn’t creating every single day.
On weekends, I’ll wake a bit later and then I teach from 8-12. Gym after and then dinner out, usually. Sunday’s are dedicated writing days where I leave my studio only for the most immediate needs. On Sunday’s I’ll wear my most important writing sweater, keep a candle lit during my entire day, and try to vibe with my characters as much as possible.
What advice would you give someone looking for a more productive routine?
Accountability helps the most. Set goals and put reminders everywhere. Tell all of your friends and family about a new goal. Set alerts, reminders, do whatever you can to make yourself stay on track. I’ve found this to be extremely helpful on the days when I just don’t feel like I have the juice to write.
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.
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.