Sunday, July 12, 2020

Writer to Writer - A Challenging Q and A

Famous author in front of his various books.

So I have this cool, uplifting friend Dylan Stewart who is quite the writer. So prolific is he that he created a challenge for himself - #justwrite365 – wherein he would post one Facebook story per day for an entire year. Apparently not as crazy committed as he, I chose to go for the month-to-month lease, and took part in December 2019 and now July 2020. In a recent post, Dylan asked questions directly to me. Whether he knew it or not, he brought to me one of my all-time favorite things in the world: questions. And so, in pure over-glorified Rolling Stone Interview format, I’ll have some fun with some fun…

Dylan Stewart: Are you bemoaning the fact that you chose to step into this challenge with me; you’re wondering why bother, aren’t you? 

Jim Ellis: Oh, yeah. That is definitely a thought that comes to mind every time I sit down to write. Why bother doing it? Will it be what I want it to be? Will it make sense? Will anyone read it? Will anyone care? Will it have any sort of positive impact? However, those are superficial thoughts that buzz around my head like flies for awhile before I sit down and do what I know I am meant to do: write. And having a daily structure and a challenge - and knowing someone like you is along for the ride with me - is great motivation. 

DS: You’re thinking about all the fans, all the people liking your posts, all the amazing compliments you wish you were getting with every single word you write. It’s your reason for writing, isn’t it? 

JAE: I have this dream where I can write my stuff, and somehow I touch a deep chord within the masses. This makes it so I can have best-sellers, make tons of money, go on Conan O'Brien (he would give me many of those blank quizzical stares at my off-the-wall comments, which would garner huge laughs), and be spotted outside of coffee houses where people wave and say, "Hey Jim, loved the 'bird in the fireplace' story." And I would say, "Thanks." But since this hasn't happened - though it's still only mid-day - I rest in the knowing that on a very real level, it's just not about any of that. 

DS: You’re filled with skills … and still waiting for other people to validate you? What’s that about?

JAE: I'm needy. And also, I think I just want to connect with people. Sometimes I'll write something and be so excited about the idea that someone gets it or is moved by it: a laugh, a smile, a nod, a knowing, and perhaps even a tear. Whenever people reach out and let me know they enjoyed a piece of writing, I have to go back and reread it, as if seeing it for the first time through their eyes. I get so high with this experience. It means I touched a life. It means I've connected with another. That's the key for me. Oh and as far as validation - yes, I need to know I'm alive and not just wasting my damn existence on this God-forsaken planet. 

DS: The hope for applause and fanfare. That’s why writers write, isn’t it?

JAE: I'll be happy with a wave, some sales and a funny look from Conan. 

DS: I remember the first recognition I got as a writer. It was for writing a cheesy poem for a “Keep Christ in Christmas“ project. What was your first recognition?

JAE: Woah, good question. I recall being mortified at the idea of writing in a "normal" way, like everyone else expects. My mom was guiding me how to write a letter to my grandmother when I was like 8 years old. She said, "Just start it, "How are you? I am fine.'" I laughed out loud. I could not wrap my mind around answering a question that I HAD JUST asked the reader. As they say in the biz, I went another direction. So I always knew I'd want to do it my own way.

The first time I recall someone recognizing my writing ability was in my junior year of high school. Mrs. Ryan walked up to me and said, "You are a good writer." I said, "I know." As I said those two words, I remember thinking to myself, "Did I just say that? I'm not that confident in my abilities." It was odd for me, a boy with very low self-esteem, to accept - let alone align with - such praise. But I did. And I did follow through with her request to join the high school newspaper my senior year. That led to a journalism path I'm still meandering upon today.

DS: Why the heck did you take on this challenge?

JAE: Short answer - you asked. Longer - I needed some structure and discipline to do what, deep down, I actually want to do.

DS: What are you hoping to gain?

JAE: I'd like 31 new pieces for possible use in future books and blogs, some connections with pals, some cleaning out of the creative pipes as it were, and the attention of the Conan O'Brien producers.

DS: And why, oh why dear Jim… Do you really write?

JAE: OK, let's get real huh Dylan? The big question "why?" Not the superficial why but the real why? A Scorpio's level of "why?"

I write because it's who I am. I am the expression. The clearer I am, the more centered I am, the more connected I am to my inspiration, higher self and muse, the more I can bring forth my true self. Perhaps I'm just looking for myself, and in the process of writing - expressing layer upon layer upon layer - I discover a well from which springs forth all these flurries of words.

I know when I'm just spewing forth superficial words and when I'm locked into a higher source. It's that fusing with the source that gives me unlimited energy and brings a sense of bliss I can't explain in words. Ironically.

At those times, nothing else really matters. The fanfare. The likes, loves, angry faces, shares. The sales of books, or not. The late night TV appearances.

Not a worry.

I have connected with my source directly, and it is enough. I am happy. And I am home.

I am in a timeless space and simply wish to share from there ... unconditionally.

James Anthony Ellis is a writer, yes he is, to be found at

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