Jodi Thomas on The Life of a Full Time Writer
I've been a full time writer for over thirty years. From time to time, like when both my sons were in college, I took on part time work. I also love helping beginning writers find the right road. I've taught several classes over the years. This year marks my 50th book. THE LITTLE TEASHOP ON MAIN will be out in May. So, I guess I am as near a full time writer as they come.
First, I love writing most days, now and then when the story isn't coming, I hate writing. But most of all I love the freedom writing gives me. If the story is running I sometimes write all night and don't have to worry about getting up in the morning. Or I can take off on a road trip. Like O'Henry said, "Whenever you are blocked, change your environment."
And sometimes, like tonight when the world is heavy around me, writing is a blessing, my best friend, an escape. I'm in a hospital room while the town sleeps with my husband a few feet away sleeping with a breathing machine on. All day I've thought of our life together, high school, college, the army, having two sons, traveling the world, grandkids. He'll recover this time, but Parkinson's will eventually win.
Only tonight I'll step into my story and for a while forget about the real world. I hope my books will help others do the same thing. In good times and bad life is life. My characters come as alive to me as the people who walk through my real world. I want you to love them, or hate them, but never forget them.
So, you ask me what the life of a writer is like. We walk through two worlds, real and fiction and in a strange way they feed each other.
Writers and readers both live life richer thanks to books.
Romance Writers of America National Convention
The first time I went to RWA and stepped on the conference floor I felt like I'd been an alien all my life and I found home planet. As a Home Ec. teacher I was usually asked question like, "How do your get a stain out of carpet?" or "What do you do if you forget to thaw the turkey?" Suddenly at RWA I was talking about "Where would you bury a body?" or "What is point of view?"
I ate breakfast with total strangers and told them my lifetime goals and closed the hotel bar at night admitting to all my fears. I met my favorite writer and couldn't talk. Finally I managed to say, "I love you." And unbelievably she said, "How about we have lunch." She was a real person! She'd sold a dozen books and I hadn't sold anything, but we were comrades.
As the years passed, even though I only saw them once a year, it was like the people I met were great friends. We'd laugh and talk writing.
The second time I saved up enough money to go to RWA, I was up for a RITA. I knew I wasn't good enough yet, but I was so excited just to get to wear the
ribbon. When they called my name I'd gone to the bathroom because I didn't want people to see me cry when I lost. When I went to the stage all I could think to say was, "Thank you." I flew all the way home holding the RITA.
This year MORNINGS ON MAIN is up for a RITA. Win or loss I'm still honored. I think MORNINGS ON MAIN and THE LITTLE TEASHOP are two of the strongest books I've written. They were both hard to write and I had a great editor pushing me.
One last great thing about RWA. If you haven't sold, it's a great place to meet editors and agents. If you have its a great place to see your editor face to face. Have coffee, become friends, talk about what comes next.
The Little Teashop on Main
Three women pledged together in friendship. Maybe I should tell their story. Maybe I’m the only one who can. After all, I’m the one who loved all three. But I don’t fool myself. They don’t belong to me. If anything, I guess I belong to them.
A rainy-day ritual—a tea party between three little girls—becomes the framework of not only their friendship, but their lives. Blonde, curly-haired Zoe Alexander is openhearted, kind and free-spirited, but struggles with body image. Emily Waters is shy, diminutive and would prefer to live vicariously through the characters in the books she reads. And Shannon Morell—tall, athletic, strong—has a deep sense of loyalty, but will always fear abandonment.
As these three girls grow into women, they forge careers, have their hearts broken, marry and have children, but the one constant that remains is each other, and their regular tea parties. And when the unthinkable happens, the girls sit down to have one final farewell tea.
A fifth generation Texan, Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state.
When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, Tom, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo, and "checking up" on their two grown sons.