Posts Tagged ‘Jessica Yinka Thomas’
How can we pay attention to our lives—our real lives, not the outward trappings that are often labeled as life—if we have distractions at every turn? Our minds provide a lifetime of distractions to work with. When we combine our own natures with the sensory overload most of us live with every day, we have more than enough work to do just trying to hear our own voices—something essential for every writer. Laraine Herring, Writing Begins with the Breath: Embodying Your Authentic Voice
I’m delighted to welcome writer Jessica Yinka Thomas in the ‘Love Your Creative Self’ series. You’ll find prompts based on her reflection.
LOVE YOUR WABI SABI HOUSEWIVES
Wabi Sabi is a Japanese concept that honors all things imperfect by finding the beauty in the imperfections. My tendency to flip on a ‘Housewives’ show of one metro area or another when I need a distraction is the great imperfection in my writing practice. I’ve learned to love this imperfection. It gives my brain a well-needed break from thinking and can even provide inspiration for a blog post. So I love my Wabi Sabi Housewives, but only for a tea party or a shopping spree. Then, it’s back to the page.
Jessica Yinka Thomas is a novelist with a background in mechanical engineering and social entrepreneurship. Information about her new novel How Not To Save The World can be found on her website.
Jessica’s post reminds us that while trying to create we will face distractions. We’ll often fantasize that if only we could go on a retreat and escape our obligations we could create without interruption. What we forget, however, is that we can never escape our mind’s ability to notice and focus on sensations. Instead of being frustrated about this inevitable dance, Jessica asks us to chose the one distraction that we enjoy the most, revel in it (briefly), and then return to our work refreshed. Instead of choosing our distraction with intention, we usually get pulled over a waterfall of distractions. We don’t just watch ten minutes of a favorite show or play a computer game, it’s an hour we lose and then we turn to the laundry and then call a friend, etc. After a few hours, we’ve dissipated our focus so much that we can’t get back to the internal world we were trying to create.
Today consider: What’s the distraction that’s satisfying and refreshing enough to indulge in once during your allotted creative time? Then later when you’re feeling antsy consciously chose that distraction. Freewrite about your choice. Did you rebel?
If you have trouble reconnecting with your material after a break writer Laraine Herring advocates narrowing your focus to specific sensory details.
Here’s what I have tried: Look at where you stopped in your writing. Get up close and personal by describing one detail that you overlooked when you first began writing: a gesture of a minor character, the chill of the air, your main character’s socks, the laugh of an aunt, what the character just finished eating, etc.
If you are still stuck try one of Herring’s suggestions (both exercises below are from Writing Begins with the Breath):
Describe a full moon from the point of view of someone who cannot see.
Describe the taste of broccoli; the smell of clothes fresh from the dryer, the smell of earth after a heavy rain; the states of chocolate to someone who has never eaten it; describe a physical pain (don’t say it hurts!) describe a fight between a husband an wife witnessed by someone who can’t hear.
Photo Credit: Google Images
I’m so excited to introduce readers to newly minted novelist Jessica Yinka Thomas. Her novel How Not To Save the World is a social justice thriller. Jessica Yinka Thomas is a novelist with a background in mechanical engineering and social entrepreneurship. As managing director of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, she has authored several award-winning academic articles. Jessica has also worked as a designer of interactive educational toys, as the director of a social enterprise business plan competition and as a program manager for a community development nonprofit. How Not to Save the World is her first novel.
Jessica’s writing highlights her twin passions for technological innovation and for creating significant social change through entrepreneurial ventures. Growing up in West Africa and traveling around the world has provided her with a rich background from which to draw in her writing.
Her main character, Remi Austin is a fundraiser for the African Peace Collaborative (APC), a conflict resolution nonprofit founded by her late mother. Frustrated by her inability to raise funds and faced with the imminent closure of the APC, Remi turns to a life of crime to keep her nonprofit afloat. From Sydney, to Tokyo, Geneva and Cape Town, Remi transforms from a fundraiser too shy to speak during staff meetings into a daring international art thief who must stop a war from breaking out and figure out how to save herself from a life behind bars.
I think Jessica has single-handedly invented a new genre—the social justice thriller.
I came to know Jessica through The Creative Tickle, my coaching practice. She was finishing her novel when we worked together. She focused on time management issues and juggling her many commitments including job responsibilities, creative writing and new motherhood. I’m thrilled to see her work in print and that she is making her writing dreams come true.
1) Where did the idea for your novel come from?
I started out writing nonfiction travel stories as I traveled around the world in my twenties. I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron while traveling across Australia and wrote in big letters at the close of the book, I WILL WRITE A NOVEL. That was 13 years ago. Since then I’ve taken my inspiration from the world around me and from the parts of life that I love. I weave my travel experiences into my writing, my passion for technological innovation and my personal vision for creating large scale social and environmental change. The story in How Not to Save the World evolved from a desire to create a compelling story that would include all of those elements. That kept me going for 8 years!
2) What does your writing practice look like?
Juggling a day job, a family, a social life in addition to writing is a delightful challenge. I have to be very strategic about fitting in my writing. Recently I’ve had the flexibility to scale back my day job to half time. So these days I can usually commit at least 2 hours to marketing and promoting my first novel and two hours to working on the second novel. Part of my marketing strategy includes getting book clubs to read the novel. This has actually provided fantastic feedback for me as a writer and as I work towards completing the sequel. The time I commit to writing, I don’t have a special place. I’ll often write on my lap using my laptop on my living room couch or the local library if I’m going to put in several hours. Much of the writing process for the sequel involves idea generation. The woman who runs my fitness class is probably frustrated that I will often pick up my iPhone in between sets and make notes about dialogue, character development, settings, etc. She probably thinks I’m texting my friends, but it does help my productivity and keeps my mind distracted during the bicep curls.
3) What (or who) inspires you to write and why?
I’m inspired to write because I see storytelling as a compelling mode to engage people in big ideas. My hope is that everyone who reads my work will think about how they can find their personal path to leaving this world better than the way they found it. I also just love writing. I’ve never had a moment of writer’s block. The page is the one place I can funnel all of the ideas swirling around in my head. With a generous amount of editing, those ideas can be transformed into a story and even a novel, or two or three.
4) What’s your best writing tip that you’d like to share?
Write every day! Even if it’s only 5 minutes on the computer or 30 seconds on your iPhone. This Year Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley was an inspiration to me and that was one of the core concepts.
5) Will we see more of your main character? What’s your next writing project?
Absolutely, we will see more of Remi Austin. I have laid out a plan for a 3 book series with How Not to Save the World as the first Remi Austin Adventure. I’m hard at work on the second, tentatively titled How Not to Make Friends. I’m shooting to release it in September 2012.
6) Who is one writer that you’d love to know was reading your work?
My father. He is an economist and would never define himself as a writer although I have a shelf full of his academic publications. He has committed his life to demonstrating how technology can be a powerful tool for social change. His work has changed many thousands of lives for the better. He is my writing role model in many ways. I would love to know that he was reading my work. He has read the first novel and I hope he feels compelled to keep reading.
Find out more about Jessica and where to buy her thriller!