Behind every writer…

I used to think that successful novelists and writers did all their own work; from conception to final manuscript, the individual author did it all, including research, editing, writing coach, spiritual director, personal trainer (writing a book is like a marathon in many ways!) and project manager. Then I started reading author acknowledgments at the ends of books and realized that it took almost a whole village of assistants for an author to be successful!

And so, since I am committed to transparency in my career, I confess that I, too, rely on a staff to help me produce books. Let me introduce you to Team Jan:

Eddy is my editor. His sharp eyes don’t miss much. In fact, he may be the most demanding editor I’ve ever had. After I’ve slogged and wrestled with a heartfelt devotional or a chapter of plot twists, he often wipes out what I have done with one (paw)stroke on the keyboard, requiring me to attack the material again. And without fail, I have to admit, the second version is always better. He teaches me that patience, diligence, and revision make a better writer out of a good one. I just wish he’d stop shedding so much on the keyboard.

Michael is my personal trainer. He knows that too much sitting stagnates the body and mind, so he insists on frequent breaks from writing to both tone my muscles and clear my thoughts. There’s nothing like a competitive game of tug-of-war with a 75-pound dog to take your mind off character development, and Michael makes sure I sweat through several rounds every day. Afterwards, I’m more than ready to bring a focused mind to my writing project. Or else I take a nap.

Gracie is my spiritual director. We start every day with a walking meditation and prayer that helps set my priorities for the day. Many of my best pieces of writing result from the inspiration I find while in her company; her ability to live intensely in the moment motivates me to pay attention to details in the world around me. Sometimes, she points me to hidden pathways, inviting me to stretch my horizons of experience, which then influence my writing. I try to be open to those new directions, although the one that unexpectedly dumped me into a muddy gully was not one of her better ideas.

And finally, there’s Otis, the perfect project manager. When I’m stressing about a deadline, he calms me down by modeling relaxed behavior, reminding me that too often, I’m the one putting pressure on myself to perform. His easy-going nature encourages me to take my career with a proverbial grain of salt – or in his case, with a couple of Purina Kitty Treats – because in the big scheme of things, writing is just one facet of my life. Like every good project manager, Otis knows the value of balance…and the value of a good belly rub every now and then.

Who’s on your team?

7 Replies to “Behind every writer…”

  1. Jan,

    Thank you for this wonderful post. It made my day! Our furry family members add so much to our lives, especially as writers, which can be an isolating experience.

    My Frankie and Nicky were my faithful and constant companions while writing my book. They also inspired me to include many pets in my story. So much so, I included them in my acknowledgements.

    What a blessing to share our lives with pets!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Bonnie Mae, and shared a bit about your writing team, too! Yes, pets are such a blessing…although the last few nights have not been as both dogs got a stomach bug….one day it will be inspiration for a post, no doubt! Blessings to you!

  2. Hi Jan,

    Your post made me smile. Our furry friends do indeed spur us into action, as well as add a little spice to our lives. Your Eddy reminds me of my Miranda. What is it about kitties and our desk space? And the shedding on the keyboard thing? Yep. Those hairs float everywhere. Still, our pets comfort and sustain us as we put fingers to keyboard in hope inspiration finds us.

    1. Cynthia, I’ve become a big fan of lint rollers since Eddy joined my team. And I’m seriously going to write a piece about the joys of feather teasers…

  3. Aww, hope they are on the mend soon.
    You’re right, they often provide good fodder for devotions.
    I have also written quite a few devotions inspired by my pets.
    Blessings to you and your precious fur loves.

  4. This is delightful! You took us one way, then another. My cat, Green (who’s really orange), sits on my desk and stares at me pretty much all morning while I write. I’m not quite sure what he’s thinking…

  5. I think I’m going to start reading my portions to be edited to my cat, Oscar. He seems to have vocal opinions on all that goes on in the house, so why not on my words? Angela, our white cat, sleeps most of the day and after she gets some treats, she may be subject to some of my dialogue. It’s wonderful to have kitties that love to be with you and share in your labors!

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