It’s my pleasure to welcome Jen Benjamin to my blog.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hello and thanks for having me! I’m Jen Benjamin and I write romantic comedy/chick lit. It’s basically light reading that’s fun to write and (I hope!) fun to read.
How long have you been writing for?
Writing has been one of my favorite pastimes since I was pretty young. When I was really little, like ages 6 through 10, I used to write stories and try to get my friends to act them out. The pre-teen and early teen years were mostly spent writing lame poetry. (Poetry itself isn’t lame, but mine was!) I returned to stories in seventh or eighth grade and have been writing stories ever since.
What is your writing process like?
I don’t outline or anything like that. Basically, I make myself sit down. Sometimes I have to bribe myself. You think I’m kidding, don’t you? Well, I’m not. If I can just talk myself into turning on the computer or opening the notebook, I can get going. But it seems very daunting until I start. When I do start, I just go where the story takes me.
Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?
I don’t really have a routine. I usually write at night when everyone else is sleeping and I almost always have a sitcom playing in the background. And I usually write from beginning to end but every once in a while, I’ll have a scene that I have to get down while it’s still fresh in my mind. That’s rare and is the only time I write out of sequence.
What motivates you to write?
That is the hardest part of writing! Just getting motivated to DO IT. It feels impossible sometimes. There are times when I have to just force myself to start and I know that once I do, the words will flow. But sometimes I’ll have a story bouncing around in my head until it starts to drive me crazy and I simply MUST get it out of my head by putting it down on paper or screen.
What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?
You know, I honestly don’t remember but, knowing myself as I do, I’ll bet I read through the whole manuscript again to try to catch anything that might be outrageously stupid.
Are you currently working on anything new?
I have another book coming out in April. It’s about Annie Gallagher, a small-town museum curator who believes that if she’s patient, Fate will bring love to her doorstep.
I do have some other stories and fragments bouncing around but I’m not sure which of those will come to fruition first.
If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?
Oh, I have no idea. I used to want to be a history teacher. But I ended up making a career as a newspaper journalist before I decided to stay home with my kids.
What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?
I think, for me, the easiest part is getting the story out. The hardest part, aside from, you know, actually turning on the computer, is tying the end up so that readers will be happy. I’m a person who is content with ambiguous endings when I’m reading, but I know that most readers want closure. I try to be true to the story and give the readers what they need. For me, it’s a fine line.
What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?
An author will never make everyone happy. I cannot write a book that will appeal to everyone and trying to do that is a waste of time.
What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?
I really read just about everything. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a long, wordy classic. Sometimes in the mood for something that requires zero thought. I can’t think of any one book that made me want to write. I have my head in the clouds a lot and sometimes those daydreams turn into a good plot and I want to write it down.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
I have no clever advice. Just write. Just do it. You can’t just wait around for someday. But when you do have to wait, read, read, read!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I’d just like to tell you how grateful I am for this interview and how grateful I am to anyone who gives my stories a chance! I hope they make you smile. That’s really all I’m after.
Jen Benjamin is a newspaper writer who enjoys fiction when she gets time away from writing facts. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband, daughter and various furry creatures. When she isn’t writing, Jen enjoys photography, reading, catching re-runs of Frasier and playing the violin. She used to play the violin for church and various other events, but now just plays for herself (and still has nightmares about her one gig as a strolling violinist!).