We’ve been loving having Jay Clark–the author of The Edumacation of Jay Baker, which you can begin reading for a limited time on Figment here–around for the past couple of weeks. His hilarious debut has kept us laughing awkwardly at the embarrassing antics of freshman class president hopeful, Jay Baker. Jay was also kind enough to answer some of your questions posted in the forums. Check out the highlights below, and read the whole thread here. Thanks to all contributors!
What keeps you motivated as you’re writing?
Is it a bad sign that I’m having a hard time gearing up for this question? Well, I’ve become addicted to Starbucks Via Iced Coffee, and unfortunately it’s my soul reason for living now. Also, I do it for the children, the puppies, and world peace.
Have you always wanted to be an author?
No, but I’ve always wanted to be successful. That didn’t work out so well after I graduated college with a degree in Economics Management (?). Becoming an “author” of sorts was a gradual process. I started writing a tennis column for a newspaper, then I started querying/spamming magazine editors, then I pitched a memoir to lit agents called—what else?—Memoirs of My Post-College Failures. It got quite a bit of interest, but no one took the bait because I’d yet to become friends with Oprah or date one of the actresses from Twilight (still haven’t). The good thing about that particular failure, though, was that quite a few agents remembered me when I came back and pitched Edumacation. I’m not really one of those people who gets it right on the first try.
P.S. I hate those people.
What’s the worst possible mistake that you could make when writing?
Being afraid to be original. I’d rather go balls-to-the-wall and stink up the book clubs of America (and beyond!) with “I-don’t-get-it’s” than pen a big piece of milquetoast that no one has an opinion about. Ask me this question again after I see my sales figures.
Amanda J asks:
I have had a few people inside and outside of Figment tell me that I need to become all the characters in my stories, instead of just one and writing ‘about’ the others. But I don’t know how to do that. Do you have any tips you would be willing to share?
You can tell when you’re feelin’ a particular character and when you’re not, right? If you’re not, then I’d highly recommend killing that sucker off. It’s fun . . . and easy, too! Just click the “Find and Replace” button and swap ’em out for a Golden Retriever.
You don’t necessarily need to become your characters, in my opinion, but you have to make sure their voice sounds authentic. If you’re having trouble finding their voice, then maybe you just haven’t found the right character. Off with their head! Anyway, I like to blame my characters for my problems instead of my own writing abilities. It builds false confidence.
When you hit writer’s block, how do YOU get past it?
I obsess until it stops. #unhealthycopingmechanisms
Jennifer + the machine asks:
Did you name the main protagonist of The Edumacation of Jay Baker with a name similar to yours because you share the same experience? Or is it merely a coincidence?
I’m confused about the machine part of your moniker, Jennifer. Is this machine attached to you? Are you guys (online) dating? Just wondering. 🙂 Anyway, it was a total accident that I named my main character Jay. It wasn’t until the book came out that I realized it, and then I was super-pissed. “Who does this Jay Baker cat think he is?!” I cried, with fist outstretched. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: I fully intend on killing off Jay Baker in the yet-to-be-demanded sequel.
Eliza Jane asks:
You’re a tennis pro?!?
Weeeeell, pro might be pushing it. I’m good enough to pretend like I know what I’m talking about while feeding balls to untalented juniors and disinterested old people.