Today I'm pleased to welcome to my blog one of our community of writers: Celia Jenkins.
Celia, what do you write? Why this in particular?
Because I write as a professional freelance writer, as well as writing things of my own choosing, I end up writing quite a lot of different things! My freelancing usually revolves around travel writing, ghost writing children’s books and writing educational materials. I often get commissioned on these topics as I spent time living abroad (where I taught English) and because I was a teacher I’m considered an expert on graded materials. When I write for myself, I write children’s books (anything from picture book texts to YA/NA material), light-hearted romance novels, short stories and haiku. Quite eclectic! I imagine that when I ‘find success’ in one genre, I’ll specialise and stop stretching myself in so many different directions.
What got you started on writing in the first place?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer – I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true. I’ve never really wanted to be anything else.
Do you have a particular routine?
Because I have a number of other day jobs to pay the bills (three other jobs, to be precise!) my routine changes all the time. Basically, whenever I’m not doing anything else, I write. Quite often I have patches of time between jobs. Often I’ll wake up early and cycle off to my first job, come home and do a few hours of writing before a lunchtime shift, and then do some more writing when I get back in the later afternoon (phew!)
Do you have a dedicated working space?
Yes! For the first time ever, I have an office! I’d never been without one now, even if this one is a tiny box room. It’s even tinier because I’ve laid it out in a very feng shui sort of way, which feels lovely but basically has my desk right in the middle of the room. A bigger office would be nice, one day…
When did you decide you could call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact?
The first time I was told to start referring to myself as a writer (rather than ‘aspiring writer’) was at university. I think in actuality I started referring to myself as a writer when I started getting paid for it. Now that I have four jobs, even though the writing quarter might not be the most regular or reliable of my earnings, I still lead into the question ‘What do you do?’ with ‘I’m a writer’.
How supportive are your friends and family? Do they understand what you're doing?
My husband is very supportive – he knows that, in order for me to chase my dream, I have to spend a lot of time squirreled away in my office. Also, to make sure the bills still get paid at the end of the month, I take on weekend work and night shifts to balance out the unpaid hours I spend during the week working on my own writing. The time when I first started really dedicating time to writing was about 3 or 4 years ago, when I reduced my working hours to four days a week so that I could write. I couldn’t have done that without the support of my husband.
What are you most proud of in your writing?
I’m proud to have not given up yet! Having studied creative writing at university, rubbing shoulders with dozens of other hopefuls, it’s incredible to see the high number of people who, since graduating, haven’t written anything at all. Some people I know even went on to do the Masters degree and barely write nowadays. I know a number of people who have found real success, and that’s so awesome and inspiring for me. But something I really sympathize with are the people like me who, years after graduating, are still slogging away and are hopeful of getting an agent, a book deal, etc. I’m proud to say that I haven’t laid down my pen, even though life has that ability to worm its way between you and your dreams, whether that be in the form of a day job, getting a mortgage, getting married, having kids, etc. Whatever else is going on in my life, being a writer will always be a major chunk of who I am.