Today I’m hosting a guest post by Jennifer Ellis, author of romantic comedy “Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist”. Welcome, Jennifer, and thanks for guest blogging on Bedazzled Reading!
Why I Write
I love writing, but a question that I often ask myself is why? Why do I write? Why do I keep writing? What is it that I like about writing?
It is certainly not for the money, at least not in the short term. I hope to make a living from my writing some day. But with the average annual income for fiction writers in Canada (both traditionally published and self-published) hovering around the $500/year mark, I have my work cut out for me on that front!
In a 1946 essay, George Orwell claimed that there are four basic motives for writing: sheer egoism (fairly self-explanatory), aesthetic enthusiasm (you love beautiful language and a perfect plot), historical impulse (you want to record history for posterity’s sake), and political impulse (you have a message to share).
Ego fulfillment is a curious motivation for writing. While the highs of positive reviews and sales associated with writing are great, there are too many difficult days of sitting alone in my sweatpants pushing cats out of the way of the computer screen for egoism to be a primary driver for me.
I definitely write because I love complex and perfectly interwoven plots and unique and fresh language, so I guess I am in part driven by aesthetic appreciation. American writer, Edmund White, likened writing to building a sandcastle or a Lego tower. And that is how I feel when constructing a novel, trying to find just the right piece to fit in each part, creating cool and complex characters, and hoping that the whole thing doesn’t collapse at the end. It’s an intense process and I often think of Sarah McLachlan’s “Building a Mystery” as I write (although in reality sometimes it’s more mess than mystery in the initial stages).
I also have some political impulses. I don’t feel very comfortable expressing my opinions in an actual political forum (or even on Facebook), so I write them in my fiction. My middle-grade series, which starts with the novel, A Pair of Docks, is about a fourteen-year-old girl who is a genius, and has a particular interest in physics and chemistry. When I was in high school, I was at top of my class in physics and chemistry and won a four-year science scholarship. I planned to become a physicist. But, in case you hadn’t already guessed, I didn’t become a physicist. University science proved harder than I thought it would be and being constantly surrounded by hundreds of scientifically inclined men (some of whom looked down on women) was less fun than you might think. I also didn’t understand that many perfectly good physicists got B’s in university. I wish I had stuck it out, but I didn’t. A Pair of Docks is not intended to convince girls to study chemistry and physics, but to try to make it cool and exciting if they decide they want to.
Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist is a bit politically motivated too, although it is also lots of fun with romance and a crazy cast of characters. These days there are lots of somber non-fiction books about the environment, and there are also lots of very dark post-apocalyptic tales like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood that explore what might happen if we don’t change our environmental ways (although the precise reason for the apocalypse in The Road is left unsaid). I wanted to take a different approach and look at where a lot of us are with respect to the environment right now: trying to do our best, but often failing at least somewhat along the way, and some of the funny situations that arise as a result. It takes a more satirical look at eco-hypocrisy (like the Simpsons Movie), but still features a strong environmental theme and tries to look at all sides of the environmental debate.
But in the end it is probably about wanting to tell a story that makes people fall in love with my characters, makes them laugh and think, and keeps them turning pages late at night. I’m not sure where that falls in Orwell’s schema, but that for me is where the real joy of and motivation for writing lies.
About the Book
Title: Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist
Author: Jennifer Ellis
Genre: Romantic Comedy / Women’s Fiction
Alana Matheson always tries to do the right thing for the environment, even when it means boycotting school meatball day, forgoing the use of makeup, or getting entangled in a bet with her non-chicken-loving ex-husband over which of them can be the most environmentally conscious.
So when a mining company proposes developing a mine right in the middle of the community watershed, well, of course Alana is going to be on the front lines opposing the development.
Except she isn’t. To her own shock and dismay, she finds herself taking a job… with the mining company. Worse, she finds herself drawn to her attractive and mysterious boss, Nate: a capitalist mining executive. The enemy.
Alana struggles to do right by the community, deal with her feelings for Nate, and maintain her own environmental morals. But as the conflict over the mine heats up, it gets increasingly difficult to be on the “wrong side,” and both Nate and Alana are cracking under the pressure.
Part satire, part serious, Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist is about the cast of characters who seem to pop up in all environmental disputes, and how all of us fail sometimes to do the right thing for the environment, in both big and small ways.
Jennifer lives in the mountains of British Columbia where she can be found writing, hiking, skiing, borrowing dogs, and evading bears. She also works occasionally as an environmental researcher.
Jennifer writes science fiction, romance and dystopian fiction for children and adults, including Apocalypse Weird: Reversal in Wonderment Media’s Apocalypse Weird world and A Pair of Docks, which was a bestseller in children’s time travel fiction. She has also contributed to several anthologies, most notably Synchronic: 13 Tales of Time Travel, which hit #16 in the Kindle Store.
She may or may not have a Ph.D. and dabble in tarot card reading and cat sitting.
You can subscribe to her blog for the latest book news and industry insights at http://www.jenniferellis.ca. She tweets about writing, cats and teenagers at @jenniferlellis.