I recently asked the followers of my Writer Jay Long Facebook page to submit questions they’d like answered by me. These are the top 5.
- What are three (3) of your best qualities, and one (1) thing you’d like to work on?
So many see questions like this and their answers are usually physical in nature. But to me my best assets are who I am. What makes me me. I think my imagination, my light-hearted nature and ability to communicate and listen are my top qualities. I personally think they are some of the most important traits to possess. As far as what I’d like to work on, I have to say my undeniable procrastination. I’m not sure why but I always seem to hold things off to near the ultimate ‘deadline.’ I’m my own worst enemy, so I think it stems from always wanting things to be as ‘perfect’ as possible. We all know perfection is objective. What’s perfect for me may be trash to another and vice versa. I definitely am working on that. I recently started using bullet journal in hopes to stay on track with my daily grind.
2. What is your favorite book, and why?
I’m going to go a bit further with this one because as I have aged and my reading expanded, I have two books set high above the rest.
My first favorite book was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I’m sure along with millions of others the story of Pony Boy Curtis and Johnny was a go to growing up. To me it was a modern day Tom Sawyer. I read and re-read this book at least 5 times between the ages of 11 and 14. It truly was my first love in the realm of the written word. The Outsiders, although a tale of the Greasers and Socs, hit on every aspect of growing up. Who hasn’t had issues with their parents growing up. Who hasn’t felt like they were an outcast. Although not a burning church as a teenager it can be a brave task t get up and out every day. And how many of us have found their tribe when we least expected it. S.E. Hinton wrote a great coming of age tail which still holds a special place in my heart 35 hears after turning the last page… “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.”
My second favorite book has been tried and tested over the years. So many great reads have come my way, like The DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown, The Jester by James Patterson, and The Camel Club by David Baldacci. The one for me that has set the bar high is A Time To Kill by John Grisham. It was the third Grisham book I had read after The Firm and The Pelican Brief. Again it was page after page of sucking me into the story. I wanted justic, I wanted to see just what would happen. It was the first time I can remember rooting for a character. I needed Carl Lee Hailey to walk free. Because no father should have to sit in jail for protecting his child. I needed the underdog small town lawyer to show the big boys justice doesn’t come with a price tag and the arrogance of a big time attorney can be shut down by the truth and the human condition. Jake Brigance did just that and John Grisham gave that to me. And when he admitted Yes They Deserved To Die And I Hope They Burn In Hell! I think he spoke for anyone who’s ever read this book. Powerful, heart felt, controversial, and it will take a masterpiece to knock A Time to Kill off the perch I’ve set it upon.
3. Was there a person or event in your life that made you finally decide to take your writing skills seriously? And elaborate
I have always been a natural storyteller. Ever since I was a kid I’d listen intently to my grandfather and my cousins talking about the ‘old days.’ I would spend countless hours reading and I often found myself watching the same movies over and over again. My love for the written word started early on as well. When I discovered music, the first thing I would do is go straight to the lyric sheet. For me the words were more important than the song itself.
When I was in my early 20’s I took to screenwriting bt being on the east coast and resources not in abundance as they are today, it didn’t take. Life happened along the way and I put that career on the back burner. After my divorce in 2008 I started writing again and in Winter of 2013 I went public with my writing. The rest is what they say ‘history.’ In spring of 2015 I decided to go full-time with my writing and have been doing so ever since. I never understood the term ‘starving artist’ until about a year later.
Since then I have released two poetry and prose collections and am currently working on several writer related projects to be able to help other writers see their dreams come to fruition.
4. Do you believe love can heal a shattered life?
Love comes in a variety of levels – friendship, family, romantic but regardless of it’s core, love is a powerful emotion. I certainly believe if you have the love of another, anything is possible. It’s as if you are connected and the energy is multiplied. Love may not be able to physically heal but it certainly can put a mind at ease to know you’re not alone. And as so many of us know, the mind is a force all its own and living life with a peaceful mind will create a sanctuary within. It is there where love can bloom, and fill all the voids; even those created by a “shattered life.”
5. Do you ever rework older pieces, maybe you weren’t quite happy with it, or think you could improve it.
I have never reworked any piece I have set free to the world. For that reason, I do hold back several pieces to workout or hash out the snippets in order to mold the parts together to create a larger piece worthy of sharing. I usually keep a notebook in each room and I have a note app on my phone for times I get an idea or a few lines. I usually let them sit for a few days then revisit them and let the thoughts flow.
Great to get to know you better, Jay. I appreciate your openess, and admire your drive.
Rachel: No, I think that these are great points. And then the last one is sort of the most important one because I can tell you what works well for me, and Jay can tell you what works well for him. But we don t have your audience. So the most valuable work you can do is to get to know your audience and what works for them.