Jon James dwells in Lansing, Michigan, where he hopes to one day write something his mom can read. Today is not that day. Better luck next time, mom. For more of his weird shit, check out his website at jonjameswrites.com or his podcast at wewriteweirdshit.com.
1. How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t write, though writing seriously with the intent for publication probably started only about last November. Still, around my parents’ house I’m sure you can find folded up pads of paper full of Animorphs fanfics and short narratives about dinosaurs.
2. What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
Don’t try to break the mold. Follow standard structures for a while as you work on your voice, you can experiment with unusual pacing after you’re established.
3. Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?
Litreactor is just packed with good tips. Also, find a workshop of writers you like to read and join it. You can’t do it alone, although writers are notorious loners.
4. What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
Lately I’ve gotten into weird stuff (Bizarro) and humor. Current favorite authors are Betty Rocksteady, Carlton Mellick III, and Charles Stross.
5. What tips do you have for finding time to write?
Dedicate time in advance where you can really focus and get into the story. I dedicate one day a week to primarily focus on writing. Before I could do that, I picked one month (November) and just stayed up late every night to spend an hour or two each day.
6. Do you prefer to outline a story in advance or write on the fly? Why?
I used to be a pantser but I always ended up with really awkward pacing that took lots of edits to fix. I’ve since found that my first drafts end up better than my second drafts used to if I just plot out the general beats and loose word goals first.
7. How do you deal with rejections?
By immediately re-submitting it somewhere else. I find waiting for a response more agonizing than even a bad response so I like to send to places with quick turnarounds first to get one out of the way.
8. What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
Next month I want to try to write an entire novella over a long-weekend retreat. I would like to get my first novel in submittable status by next April. I’d love to get at least one piece published in a pro rate market in the next year.
9. For the next five years?
Ideally, within the next five years I could be writing full time. If I can get my student loans paid off it’s actually pretty possible for the modest lifestyle I am comfortable with. I’d also like to have a novel/novella picked up by a publisher by then.
10. Is there anything you’d like to plug? Feel free to share a link.
My podcast, We Write Weird Shit, should be well into its second season by the time this is published. Check it out at wewriteweirdshit.com and send in some topics to make us write about!