My boyfriend at the time was pretty supportive, but it petered off as the years moved on. I became a little obsessed with my writing in the latter part of our relationship, (though I wasn’t even trying to get published) and I chose my projects over him more than a few times. But the relationship was failing anyway, so it wasn’t a huge deal. And honestly, it was probably the most productive time of my life.
Q: I’ve battled that and ended two significant relationships over my writing simply because I wasn’t about to be with someone who wouldn’t be supportive of my writing, so I get it. That being said, who has been your biggest supporter?
A: My husband Dave is the most amazing human alive. After my prior relationship fell apart—thank balls—I took some time for myself, then found a cute boy on Myspace. Yes, Kids, Myspace. Having learned from the last relationship, I told Dave straight-up all the nitty gritty about Jessica Bonito so he’d know what he was getting into. He seemed okay with letting me be exactly who I was, and I paid him the same courtesy. We’ve been pretty much inseparable ever since. He’s my cheerleader. He’s my sounding board. He’s my muse. He’s my rock. He’s (insert another metaphor). I wouldn’t be able to do what I do as well without him.
Q: Your posts on Facebook that have anything to do with him normally crack me up. You’re one of those couples that I think people who get to know you completely understand why you two make sense! Who has been your biggest critic?
A: Uh…people…on the internet…I guess? I pay attention to constructive criticism in reviews and from mentors, but I don’t really allow critics to get me down anymore. So I…yeah, I don’t know. People.
Q: Have you lost friends/families because of your writing?
A: If I have, they weren’t important enough that I remember them.
Q: I’ve ended a few relationships because it got to the point where they were so unsupportive it was just terrible. In hindsight, I’m thankful something finally did get me away from them hahaha! What is the thing you struggle with most about writing?
A: Writing makes me feel superhuman, so I take on a lot of simultaneous projects and believe wholeheartedly I can do them all in a timely fashion. The problem is, I do complete these projects, but I get so ballsin’ exhausted. It sucks. Some people think of writing as this romantic thing—and it is—but romance is just a sliver of what it takes to be an author. There are a lot more shitty moments than romantic ones. But if you’re passionately invested in #theWriteLife, you learn to love the shit, too.
Q: I could hug you for that! I get really irritated with the dreamy, starry-eyed people that see it as this glamorous happy thing. It’s not always, it hurts and it can be very stressful and draining. Have there been moments where you have wanted to give up on this dream? If yes, what has made you stick with it?
A: I’ve never wanted to give up. I’ll die with a Pilot G2 in my hand.
Q: This is one of the things that just makes me bow downto your greatness, you write SO much, so many different pieces between your Darla Decker series, and your #AStoryAWeek participation, it blew me away to learn you do your first draft with a pen and paper! However, I think how we start our writing career is normally what feels the most comfortable. With me it’s all about an outline. Is there any one thing that you wish you knew from the beginning of your writing career?
A: There’s some weird politics and drama in the writing world I didn’t know about when I started. I don’t really take part in it because…hey, man…I just want to write and smile and see my inky cohorts succeed. But even if I’d known before, it wouldn’t dissuade me a bit. I know far more cool writers than lame writers.
Q: Do you have things/people you turn to for inspiration or can you sit down and just write?
A: Both. This past year I was working on my regular novel projects while doing #AStoryAWeek—aka, writing 52 damn short stories this year. It was really wonderful, but it was also extremely difficult. Sometimes I could sit down and let the story unfurl itself, like I was just a bystander documenting the story’s movements. But sometimes I had to do a lot of brainstorming just to come up with an inkling of an idea. Some of those were offshoots of themes in shows or movies. Some were based on something my husband said. When your job depends on constant idea generation, you learn to keep your eyes and ears open for inspiration at all times.
Q: What achievement in writing are you most proud of?
A: I’m still jazzed about the play I had produced in 2010. “Fools call it Fate” was the first play I wrote, and it won a playwriting competition at the renowned Mobtown Theatre in Baltimore. I haven’t had much success in playwriting since, but I still think I’ll get back into the theatre one day.
Q: I have to admit, that’s pretty awesome! What has been your biggest lesson in writing?
A: You can’t be lazy. You can’t procrastinate. You can’t believe in writer’s block. But if you’re in truly in love (and lust) with writing, you probably don’t need those lessons. That’s when you’re my age, of course. For a writer, the thirties are about manipulating the events of your twenties.
Before the thirties, live life as much as you can. Read like mad. Write like mad. Then, once you’ve amassed 20+ years of personal stories and literary experience (whether through schooling, life, or both), focus on creating your own version of #theWriteLife. I’m not saying life is over when you’re thirty—quite the contrary. I just believe you need to live a lot of life and meet tons of different kinds of people before you can write a truly rich, fully formed story. That length of time varies from person to person, of course. Just follow your passion and know that it’ll lead you to marvelous places if you’re willing to toss aside excuses and work your ass off.
Q: You do have a point. I’m in my thirties and almost all the characters I write about are in their twenties. That is very interesting! Okay so for the final question…If you could only pick one, would you rather be well known (NY Times Bestseller etc) for one piece of writing, only to be broke after a quick fifteen minutes of fame, or would you rather be semi-unknown, only making just enough sales to live modestly, as long as you were able to keep writing?
A: I’d much rather live frugally and be a moderate success. I think it’s incredibly important to be realistic in this business. There just isn’t a lot of money in it—you realize that pretty quickly—but there’s a lot of joy and satisfaction. I love to write, and I’ll do it no matter what direction my career takes. I’ll be the first to admit it’s a dark road, one filled with frustration, anxiety, and rejection. But I’m the happiest damn person you’ll ever meet because I’m doing what I love most in the world. I’d gladly live a meager existence to sustain this smile.
Thank you Jessica for being here with me today, as always it’s a pleasure to talk to you!