Carrie Jones was once part of a seance with comedienne Sarah Silverman. Today, she holds inner conversations with Grover. (Yes. That Grover.) Now, she’s talking to The 5 Randoms about her writing as she celebrates the release of Girl, Hero (out today, August 1!!!).
1) What were some of the more crappy jobs you’ve had in the past that prepared you to be a writer?
Oh, I have had so many….
1. Newspaper reporter/editor. Nothing makes you learn to type faster than dumb deadlines. Similarly, when you’re stuck at a town planning board meeting where people are droning on about shoreline setbacks until 2 a.m. (I swear. Really.) all you can do is to imagine things. Imagining things make good stories.
2. Undercover hooker. Seriously. There’s some great dialog there.
2) What is the part of the writing process you hate, and what coping mechanisms do you employ to get through it?
I don’t hate writing or revising. I hate marketing. I don’t cope very well. I talk to Grover from Sesame Street. He’s my internal cheerleader (you know how some authors have internal editors?) and he usually makes me feel better.
3) Do you ever worry about going too far in a scene or with a character? If so, how do you work through it? If not, what’s the advice you can pass on to the writer who does have such worries?
I don’t know if I believe in going too far. I think that depth and bravery as writers allows us to make the best possible stories there are, and it’s when we’re afraid of digging deep that we create characters or scenes that are shallow. My advice is to dig in, go deep, take big breaths and know that the emotions you dredge up, those same emotions that can be so painful to you, are worth the effort, they will resonate with your readers and that’s really what writing is all about, isn’t it? It’s about being brave, about making the best stories we can make.
And I challenge you to a water gun fight if you disagree with me. Seriously. I am deadly, baby, so watch out.
4) Authors talk about “the call.” Usually, it has to deal with getting an agent or getting published or getting an accolade. What was the best “call” you ever received in terms of your writing, and how did it go down?
This is how it happened. I’ve filched it off my real livejournal accounts.
It begins as all good things do with an email announcing the creation of Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn. Flux was accepting YA novels. Hhm? I thought to myself. I just wrote a YA novel. Sure, I hadn’t shown it to my advisor at Vermont College’s MFA in Writing Program. Sure, I hadn’t let ANYONE read it. Sure, I only just wrote it in the last month and it was rough, rough, rough. But I sent it in. I chugged out a cover letter. I found some stamps. I mailed it.
Here is what followed, taken from my livejournal entries:
Sweet Editor Man called me within a week of me mailing the manuscript. Seriously. It was wild.
The 30th, 2006
Okay. Here’s the big question of the day: Why am I so stupid?
I will work on the self esteem exercises tomorrow… but today! Today! Today I am allowed to realize the full extent of my idiotness.
I sent out some manuscript queries on Thursday.
I get a phone call this morning, from a real live editor who says, “Um, is this C.C. Jones?”
“Yes,” I say while pouring out cat food.
He then proceeds to tell me he got my query, wants to see more of my manuscript, but his email requesting it bounced back.
“Really?” I say. “That’s weird.”
“Let me tell you the address,” he says. “cjonese at…”
“Oh,” I say. “Oh. Oh. Oh.”
“What?” he says.
“There’s no e on the end of Jones.”
“I didn’t think so,” he says.
I then apologize and berate myself for not even being able to spell my own last name! What an idiot. He gives me an email address. I send him the rest of the manuscript.
Yeah, that baby’s going somewhere. Not.
Although, he was kind and he did say, “It’s the manuscript I care about, not your inability to spell your own name.”
What a nice man. Even when he rejects the manuscript. He’s still a darn nice guy.
This means now that MY BOOK has been requested. The JOHN WAYNE LETTERS has been requested (by agent and house). And another book, which was crucified at workshop, has been requested. Will anyone actually buy anything? No…. And if they did, will they be able to contact me? Not unless I can remember to get my email address right. Geesh.
The 31st, 2006
So, despite the fact that I can’t spell, the nice editor man called me back yesterday and talked to me for 40 minutes and told me all the good stuff about my book and what he thinks could get better. It was like talking to a Vermont College mentor. It was really cool. He was brilliant and really, really nice.
And he’s starting the book through the acquisitions process at his imprint, which is really cool… But, I’m not getting my hopes up about it, until papers are signed.
Still, he had the best insight on the piece and I am so excited about working on it. So, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to go work on it. He only wants another 10,000 words. Geesh. Piece of cake. Ha.
The 4th, 2006
Well, here’s a quick update on the sweet editor man. He sent me an email, which I can not quote verbatim, because it’s somehow infringing on copyright. HOWEVER, he said that he wanted to let me know what’s going on, that the piece is heading to the acquisitions committee on Thursday and he’ll call me when they’re done.
That is so sweet of him.
But now I’m going to be a nervous wreck until Friday and I’m already hyper and neurotic enough as it is. I think everyone in my family will soon disown me.
On a positive note, I wrote 15,000 more words on it this week and I’m really happy with it. It’s done the Sarah A. rubbing thing, where the characters work off each other. I’ve put more setting in, which is good because I’m weak with setting. I’ve also changed the ending and added a couple of conflict scenes. Oh, and sweet editor man said he hopes I’d have a great weekend. Is he crazy? As I told Emily Wing Smith, no matter what happens I’ve made the piece better already, so I can’t complain when he dumps my butt. So, yeah… Now, back to revising my critical thesis.
The 9th, 2006
Um, okay… Sweet Editor man called and he continues to be Sweet Editor Man.
He talked to the acquisitions committee today and wanted to call me about it before he battled the snowstorm and drove home. He said they were all “very enthusiastic about it.” They liked the writing, especially the details and he said even the people who don’t like YA were hooked.
So, he’s calling me in the morning to give me contract details, etc… which is great except I know absolutely nothing about contracts because I never thought I’d get offered one. Oh, the stupidity of me continues….
5) We’re been talking writing spaces this week. What is yours like?
I’m stuck at a tiny table that’s smooshed between the fridge and the piano. It is the stinkiest writing space ever. Right now it has a oven mitt, a candle and countless scraps of paper strewn all over it. Boo. Hiss. It also has a VOTE FOR CARRIE button because I’m running for political office. How random is that?
Thank you, Carrie! For more about this lovely lady, visit her site.