Jay Wilburn Gets Jack’d

Under normal circumstances, I’d have an introduction here…something witty and, quite possibly, an obscure reference meant for those that know me well enough to get how my mind works. But in this case, we’re talking about introducing a writer who needs no introduction.

Seriously, we’re talking about Jay Wilburn. He’s in a class all by himself. Of course, the reason why he’s in a class by himself is because the teacher doesn’t trust him with the other kids.

Yeah, he’s a biter.

Anyway, Jay’s getting Jack’d. Now!

JW: Some think the life of a writer is all bon bons and vacation. Sitting on the beach with a laptop, crafing worlds while some gorgeous hunk of flesh fans us with a palm leaf and another hands us coconuts filled with liquid muse. Of course, we know that’s the truth.

No…that’s not what I meant to say. We know that’s far from the truth. Instead, we live a life struggling against the reality of being stuck in our heads 24/7 and existing with the realm of reality. I get busted all the time for not being present. What makes this worse is, most of the time, I’m working in a mental playground of death and damnation…so it’s not even a pleasant world I exist in.

First world problems, I know.

JAY: I don’t know. I live by the beach. Whether you’re writing or not, the life we live is kind of in our own hands. We can’t control getting older. We can live healthy, but we can’t exactly dictate our health in every situation and circumstance. We can’t demand wealth and luxury from the world at the snap of our fingers, but we can choose what matters to us and live for those things. Sometimes what we are willing to risk and what we are willing to sacrifice allows us to reach for things we really want by letting go of things we don’t really want or need.

I work as a full-time author like you. It can be a very hand-to-mouth existence. My income from one month to the next can vary by thousands of dollars, but my rent is due the same day every month. It is a tricky play being a full-time writer. It requires some creative use of time. I won’t have the things that people with different careers might be able to afford, but like I said, I do live near the beach, I don’t dread Monday mornings, I don’t deal with the day-to-day workplace grind that many other people do. I work very hard writing in order to enjoy that unique level of freedom.

JW: I think that’s been the key to joy for me…not having to deal with the daily grind. I’ve spent a good deal of my time building a life I don’t have to take a vacation from. Being a full-time writer makes that possible, even though the month-to-month can quickly spiral out of control. But everything is a trade-off and, as you said, as long as you have your priorities in line, things tend to work out.

I was actually just discussing this with my in-laws the other day, how nothing is secure any more. We, as writers, often speak of the various and sundry insecurities we deal with on a day-to-day, month-to-month basis, yet every career now carries with it a lack of security that wasn’t present five or ten years ago. That being the case, why not follow your passion and chase your dreams.

At least that’s the advice I give to every aspiring artist that comes to me about choosing a career as a writer/actor/designer/musician.

JAY: I always tell people they can make a leap of faith and take a gamble on themselves. I’m cautious not to push anyone toward the idea of quitting their job and trying to be a writer. That’s not for everyone and it’s not the only path. Writing while keeping a day job isn’t any sort of failure. I just tell people they don’t have to feel trapped and whatever they decide to do, they shouldn’t allow themselves to sink into that way of thinking.

Writing can be a little solitary and like you said, it can be a function of working in your own headspace especially when you’re immersed in the creative process. That process can be painful and a struggle even as it is freeing and wide open.

It is good to reach out to people in that. You should keep up your connections to real world family and friends. It is good to reach out to other hard working and driven authors too. That common “nothing seems to be working” struggle benefits from the support of others.

There is a lot of power in supporting one another’s efforts. Any way that authors can serve to promote one another’s work through word of mouth, blog tours, or other shared efforts is a good idea for anyone involved in writing.

JW: Such a great point. I’ve always said we live and die together as a whole. Too many authors see one another as competition and refuse to help promote other work. That train of thought will derail a career faster than going to war over a bad review or attacking another author for any given reason. We have a mutual friend, Armand Rosamilia, who has been showing everyone how easy it is to support other authors for a very long time. But it never ceases to amaze me how hesitant other authors are to join in on the fun.

The solitude of writing, I believe, is one of the aspects of the career that attracts a lot of people. There’s this weird beauty of being able to be alone, while being surrounded by a host of characters. You get attached to and close to those characters in ways that make them seem real. So while you’re busy living in a self-induced isolation, face and attention entrenched in your words, you feel as if you’ve been hanging out with all-too familiar souls. Ghosts of life and love, friend and foe…all of your own making.

JAY: The advantages of working together on promotion are immeasurable. I can post “buy my book” in one form or another forever with mixed results. If I praise someone else’s book, it carries more weight with readers and potential readers. We’ve done that for each other in our various circles.

Conventions are better when planned with people you know. You can share the costs and burdens. You can banter at the table and work readers toward each other’s books with the same benefit of saying, “This is what I like about another person’s book.”

Armand started the Summer of Zombie blog tour years ago. As he reached a point in his career where he could no longer spare the time to admin it, he approached us with passing that off. I took on admin and you have been invaluable with your unique skill set and willingness to jump in to help wherever I needed it. We’ve been able to promote other authors in our genre as we gear up for that event this year. Together we have a reach we simply don’t have alone.

It gives us a chance to get those characters that have kept us company out to more readers.

More about Jay Wilburn

Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and sons in Conway, South Carolina near Myrtle Beach. He is the author of the Dead Song Legend series and The Enemy Held Near. Follow his many dark thoughts at JayWilburn.com