2 Negatives make a Positive – interview with Jennifer Hollowell (6 March 2007)

Introduction

When we were working with our publishers prior to the publication of Snapshots!, I referred to the contents of an article Jennifer wrote (she mentions it in the text of the interview). I found it helpful and have, since then, used it even in my newsletter,Great StoryTelling Network. I had sent Jennifer a request as I wanted to interview here. However, as there was no response, I did not pursue the matter. I was, therefore, delighted to receive an email from her requesting an interview. I have great pleasure in introducing to you, Jennifer Hollowell …


Aneeta: Jennifer, thank you for contacting me and requesting an interview.

Jennifer: You’re very welcome!  I had noticed quite some time ago that you had featured my article, The Importance of a Pre-Publication Marketing Plan, and I’ve been meaning to get a “thank you” to you ever since. Then I noticed an interview with Kristen Fischer, an author I had worked with on her book, Creatively Self-Employed, and I thought while I’m at it, why not see about an interview?  I’m a firm believer in not letting any doors close that open before you voluntarily.

Aneeta: First, please tell me a little about you. Where were you born and brought up; what’s your family like and where do you live now?

Jennifer: I was born in Massachusetts, but I was brought up in Maine.  I moved out on my own when I was seventeen and a junior in high school and never looked back.  Over the years, my experiences have landed me in New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, California, New York and then back to Maine.  Now, I live in a very quiet town in Maine and am raising three beautiful children (ages five, six and seven) with my boyfriend.  (two children are mine and one is his)

Aneeta: When did you decide that you’d like to become a writer and why?

Jennifer: It was my senior year in high school, about a month before graduation, when the feeling overwhelmed me.  I had written daily for as long as I could remember (journal entries by the 100’s, poetry, short stories, personal research about family matters), so it seemed very natural.  I had a conversation about this with my English teacher and his response squelched that dream.  It went like this:

“So, what do you plan on doing with your life anyway? I mean after school with college or work or whatever.”

“I’m going to be a writer.”  I couldn’t help smiling when I said those words.  It was the first time in a long time I was talking about something that truly made me happy.

He started laughing uncontrollably, to the point of tears in his eyes, before finally saying, “you’ll never be a writer.”

Those words stung.  They motivated me, though. I had a drive, I had to prove him wrong, I had to prove to myself that he was wrong.  Six years later, when I was pregnant with my first son, I started building my career.  I was in a high risk preganancy and had to be taken out of my current job (assistant manager at a book store), but I couldn’t *not* work.  So, I wrote.

Aneeta: I understand you’re a freelance writer. Is there any special genre you specialise in?

Jennifer: The bulk of my work centers around how-to art projects, projects for children, parenting, book reviews, home decorating and pieces about how to handle life changes.

Aneeta: Can you please share one of your pieces with us here?

Jennifer: Yes, here’s a link to my latest suite101.com article about how to work your way up the scale from a small canvas to a larger one

Aneeta: I understand you were interviewed by Kristen Fischer for her book Creatively Self-Employed. What was that experience like and if permissible, can you share a little of what you said to her?

Jennifer: Kristen is a pleasure to work with.  She and I started communicating regularly in 2003, when we met through an art group (www.nervousness.org) and later learned we both spent time at the absolutewrite.com forums.  She expressed her interest in building a business as a writer and, to me, she was already there.  Her experiences in life, other employment situations and her education provided the perfect buidling blocks . . . all she had to do was take that step.

During that process, her book idea was born and she approached several of us to be interviewed.  I was honored and immediatly replied with answers to her questions.  She asked questions about our fields of expertise, our experiences and how we dealt with challenges.  Our responses are meant to inspire others to take that important step toward achieving their goals and dreams.

Aneeta: I understand, also, that you’re an artist. Can you explain this a little further, please?

Jennifer: Art and writing have always gone hand and hand for me.  When I wasn’t writing, I was drawing or painting.  In 2003, I was exposed to numerous other art practices (mail art, art journals, altered books, etc.) that soon became my new “art addiction.”

I started selling various art pieces online in 2004 on ebay, myspace.com and on communities I found through livejournal.com.  I have things on etsy.com, too, but it’s still an experiment because I don’t know a lot about that site.  The types of pieces I create for sale are paintings, hadmade books, altered books, altered objects and ACEOs.  You can see it all here:

http://www.artist_writer.butterflygrace.net

http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=12921

http://myworld.ebay.com/artist_writer_2007

I’ve also started publishing my art journals on a monthly basis through lulu.com:

Explorations: January’s Art Journal lulu.com (the exact link is unavailable at the time of this writing because the site is undergoing maintenance.

Aneeta: As you may know, this website caters for storytellers. What advice do you have for people who are venturing into this field?

Jennifer: Don’t let negative people stifle you.  This happened to me and, to this day, I have difficulty looking at myself seriously as any kind of writer.  I started out with a fiction manuscript, several short stories and nearly 200 poems.  Because I let the negative influence me more than the positive, I can’t bring myself to do anything with any of this material (what I didn’t throw away, that is).  Don’t follow this path.

Aneeta: Jennifer, this is all I have to ask. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Jennifer: I want to thank you for this opportunity to talk with you about my career.  There’s been a lot of hurdles to jump over the years (heart surgery in 2004, another heart surgery in 2005 and a battle with cancer in 2006) and I’ve spent the last several months picking myself up, dusting myself off and getting back on track.  Conversations like the one you and I just had will keep me heading down that path.

Aneeta: Jennifer, thank you.

Jennifer: thank you!


This piece may NOT be freely reprinted. Please contact editor @ howtotellagreatstory.com for reprint rights.

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