Five Questions (Pioneers Press author interview series)
Q: How did you get into writing?
RBJ: It’s hard to say how I got into writing. In some ways it feels like that’s what I’ve always done. I’ve loved reading since I could do it, and writers are readers first and foremost, right? I’ve been making up stories since before I could write - there are audio cassette recordings of me at age three telling bizarre, plotless stories I made up about bears and witches. In my second grade class, we were required to keep daily journals - they could include whatever we wanted: diary entries, lists, poems, fiction, even comics and drawings, anything, the only rule was that we had to put something in them every day. That was a huge thing for me - though I didn’t call it that at the time, that’s what developed in me the habit of daily writing practice, and in the 25+ years since I have not gone a single day without writing something. Be it a poem, song lyrics, a description of what I did that day, even just one sentence to spark further writing later, even if it’s not ‘good’ writing or even if it never does turn into anything publishable - I have not gone a single day in 25 years where I haven’t written something. That’s weird to think about. As my school years went on, I received encouragement from teachers and other adults - Language Arts, English, and Creative Writing were always the classes I did best in, and I won some awards at school for things I wrote, like epic poems about pirates or novels wherein I totally ripped off C.S. Lewis. I started making zines at age 12 (nearly 21 years ago!), and it was also around that time that I started getting stuff ‘legitimately’ published. I had a modicum of success with the ‘legit’ publishing route when I was young, and I still try to do both - I submit to magazines, I look around for publishing companies that might be good fits for my stuff - but when it comes down to it, I feel more at home in the world of zines and self-publishers. I have a Xeroxed heart, all cut’n’paste and stapled together. No matter what route I’m going with publishing - whether it is more mainstream or more underground - I won’t ever stop writing. Every once in a while I have a freakout where I’m like: “Man, hustling my ass off to publish my shit and get freelance gigs sucks, I’m tired of all the work and I’m tired of being broke! I’m gonna stop writing and get a Grown-Up Career! I’m never writing again!” And then a few hours later, I think: “Oh, wait. Writing is all I can do. I’m a writer. Let me brew another pot of coffee and get back to work.” (more here)