Wednesday, September 14, 2011

JERI CAFESIN: Because I Love To Write

It's my pleasure to have novelist, Jeri Cafesin, visiting Over Coffee today. 

Many writers question our writing process, our ability to tell a story that takes readers to another place and another time. Writers are also readers and have read many good author's works. We can't help of comparing ourselves to those we respect and admire. Some how our writing, at least in our eyes, seem like *crap* in comparison to *real* authors.

Jeri touches on that insecurity and why we write.

I sat on the floor in the back of a bookstore in old town Pasadena perusing the selections. It was Saturday, late afternoon, another sunny day in L.A. I didn’t notice the store owners hustling everyone out the door and they didn’t see me in the back on the floor. After a while I picked a book I liked, got up and went to pay for it. The store was empty except for an old man sitting at a large desk awkwardly placed in the center of the main aisle. It blocked my way to the checkout so it was impossible to ignore him.

I greeted him with a quick ‘Hi,’ and smiled as I wriggled around the desk. He smiled back and asked me if I could get him a glass of water before the signing. I told him I didn’t work at the store. Then he asked me what I was still doing there. Buying a book, I told him. He took the book out of my hand and read the title, looked at me and smiled. This is good, he assured me, and handed the book back but kept staring at me with this funny grin on his face, like he had a secret.

He looked familiar but I couldn’t place him. There was a tall stack of books on the desk next to him. The Martian Chronicles, one of my all time favorites. Then I noticed the sign on the easel in front of the desk. Ray Bradbury Live! Today at 5:00.

I blushed. He smiled with my acknowledgment. Ray Bradbury was one of my few idols and he was sitting in front of me. I was speechless at first, which is rare for me. The man was what I aspired to be, a great writer. I picked up one of the ‘special addition’ hard cover books on the desk and held it up. This is really good, too, I assured him. He laughed. In the all years I’d been writing fiction I was sure nothing I’d written touched his talent. And then I got sad.

I felt the tears come. I couldn’t stop them. I smiled at him, put his book back in the stack and turned away, started to walk to the checkout but he stopped me. He asked me what was up but I told him he couldn’t possibly understand, knowing who he was, what he was, and what I was not. Try me, he insisted.

So I did. I explained that I wrote too, but didn’t label myself a writer. Though it was easy for me to recognize talent when I read it, it was impossible for me to see it in my own work. Every time I put word to paper I questioned if it was any good.

Surprisingly, he laughed. Then he told me that he too had the same question running through his head with everything he wrote. More often than not when he read his own work he thought it was crap.

I was astonished. The man was a renowned novelist. How could he still question if he was any good? I had assumed once my work was recognized the uncertainty would never plague me again. The idea that I would have to battle my self-effacing ego the rest of my life, published or not was appalling, and I told him so.

His expression softened and he shook his head. Then he asked me why I write.

I’d never really considered the question before. I’d been writing for as long as I could remember, diaries and journals when I was younger, then stories and eventually novels. I assumed once I got good enough someone would publish me and I could quit my day job and write full time, but that hadn’t happened yet. Clearly I wasn’t good enough. Perhaps I never would be. I constantly questioned when I should give it up, though the thought of not writing anymore was on par with going blind.

I write because I love to, I told him.

He smiled. Good answer, he said. The question is not if you’re any good, but if you love the process of writing. Published or not, keep writing as long as you love doing it.

And so I have. I still get disheartened, every other day it seems I’m back to black, trying to talk myself into making my day job my career. Even though I’m publishing now there isn’t any money in it. Yet. Hope springs eternal. Good or not, published or not I keep writing though, because I love to write.

Thanks Ray.

  • So, why do you write?

REVERB, Jeri Cafesin, Available now.

Music was all he needed  music and then the music was gone.

James Michael Whren is brilliant, beautiful, wealthy, and taken with himself, or more precisely, his genius for creating music. The object of desire for many, his greatest passion is for his muse.

But on the evening after his brother's funeral, his father turns his life upside down, and James is left abandoned in hell with no one to save him.

He finally escapes, and on his run for freedom he's forced to confront the man he was as he seeks asylum from old friends and ex-lovers. Humbled and almost defeated, he finds refuge on a small Greek island. But with solitude comes madness

Then he meets Elisabeth.

Reverb is a story of redemption, and follows one man's extraordinary journey of emotional growth through his discovery of his capacity to love. EXCERPT
MY REVIEW of Reverb 

J. Cafesin is an L.A. native, born and raised on the Valley side of the Hollywood Hills, among the TV and movie studios. Creativity abound and inspired growing up with the kids of producers, directors and screenwriters living in the quiet suburb. 

Journals were kept under the bed or close at hand to scribble prose, lyrics, or manic rants, but art and illustration were the focus during the early years. A BA in Advertising Design, and three years as an Art Director in corporate servitude pushed her from the proverbial window and into freelance as a floater for CBS, NBC, and movie studios from Transworld Entertainment to Lucas Films Ltd. Attending UCLA film school at night, she finished her first screenplay before quitting their program to escape the wild and crazy Hollywood scene, and moved to the San Francisco area to focus on corporate and literary writing.

Now a freelance writer of fiction, essay and copy in the Bay Area, J. Cafesin is currently working on her second contemporary romance; a YA series of short fables; and adapting her Sci-Fi screenplay into a third novel. Her articles are featured regularly in local and national print publications. Essays on her ongoing blogspot have been translated into multiple languages and distributed globally:

J. Cafesin resides on the eastern slope of the redwood laden Oakland Hills with her husband/best friend, two gorgeous, talented, spectacular kids, and a bratty but cute pound-hound Shepherd-mix.

You can find her: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Blog


~Sia McKye~ said...

Jeri, welcome to Over Coffee. I LOVED Reverb. I'm looking forward to reading your next book. Speaking of books, when is your next one out? Can you tell us anything about it?

Houston A.W. Knight said...

Top of the Mornin' to ya' darlin' Sia and Jeri!

What a wonderful article this mornin'...Now I feel normal...'I write because I love it' has always been my responce as well...because I do.

Now and then the "am I good enough" crosses me mind but I take care of it mostly by study of the craft on writing...I read craft books all the time for that one grain of something I might have missed the first one hundredth time I read thought it. ;-)

Then I remember the American saying..."keep on truckin'" I've rewritten it a wee bit (as writers are want to do) and say to meself "Keep on submittin'" and it works for me! ;-)

Now, time to get back to me cave and get some more writing done! You girls have a wonderful day!

Sia me are you feeelin', drop a line when you find a wee bit of time! I've missed our chats!

Hugs and Love

Shirley Wells said...

Wow, great story. Ray Bradbury is one of my all-time heroes. Thanks for sharing!

Mason Canyon said...

Jeri, a very inspiring post. From a reader's viewpoint, I think if a writers loves to write it comes through their work. The reader can feel what the book is about and become a part of the story as you read. Wishing you much success and please keep writing.

Sia, thanks for another wonderful post. You entertain, inspire and delight me each time I visit.

Thoughts in Progress
Freelance Editing By Mason

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hawk, thanks for coming out of your writing cave and stopping by.

I'm doing...better, for the most part. I'm still not out of the woods, but, as you say, I keep on trucking. There are days I'm not online as much and I tend to hoard my energy and pick and choose what I do. But at least I'm seeing some light. :-D

~Sia McKye~ said...

Shirley, thanks for stopping by. Oooh, I love the sound of your book. I'm going to have to read about Sam.

I read about everything Ray Bradbury wrote. Loved him!

Clarissa Draper said...

Jeri, when I got to the part where you started to cry, I started to cry. I couldn't help it. Maybe I'm just feeling over emotional but I'm finishing my final edits on my manuscript and there are still parts I read that I think are 'crap'. I couldn't imagine standing in front of an admired author and him/her telling me to keep writing. What an encouragement! Thank you for sharing this. It really touched me today.

Isis Rushdan said...

So nice to meet you, Jeri. What a great story, so encouraging. Really touched my heart and it was just what I needed. Thanks for sharing it with us. It means a lot.

Jeri Cafesin said...

Wow. Thank you all so much for your encouraging words! And Sia, my new one, Disconnected, comes out next year. It's taken me four years plus to write, and Ray, my man, I worked hard at taking out the crap. I sure to hell wish you were around to read it!!!

VA said...

Jeri, I am so jealous. I adore Bradbury and "The Martian Chronicles" is one of my favorite books of all time. I have other friends who have stories of meeting up with Bradbury at parties and all I can say is the bitter taste of envy is not nice.

Absolutely brilliant advice and answer. I guess the reason I write is because when I do I feel calm, it's a cathartic process.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Vivian, I feel the same way. Writing takes me away from where ever I am. Puts me into another world. and it is as you say, cathartic.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jeri, I'll be looking forward to reading it!

I truly enjoy the writing of a story. The editing? Not so much. I know the story and it becomes work, not fun. lol!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeri, its great to meet you! I used to read a lot of Ray Bradbury when I was growing up. Best wishes to you and your success!

Jo said...

Ray Bradbury used to be a favourite of mine many years ago. As for writing, I only write blogs, but I still love to write.

Creepy Query Girl said...

You know it's really hard to concentrate with that big photo of captain american shirtless. *sigh*. Thanks for introducing us to jeri and her work!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Lolol! I do like a bit of eye candy, now and then. My eye candy is tame in comparison to a few I've seen. But, I'm glad you were distracted...I mean enjoyed the view.

Helen Ginger said...

I think all writers feel that way, at one time or another. Perhaps all creative people.

Great story. You've certainly hit a chord with others.

Jeri Cafesin said...

True enough that writing takes me away from this world, myself. Probably what I love about it the most!!

Sheila Deeth said...

What a wonderful article! Leaves me crying over my keyboard.