Guest Post: Hazards of a Creative Life

By Janalyn Voigt

People who create worlds populated by imaginary people are just a tad different. That’s what makes writers so fascinating, or at least that’s what I like to think. Others may agree, disagree, or hold their thoughts on the subject. The latter is the wisest choice in my household.

Those of us who write speculative fiction enjoy a special reputation for eccentricity, even among other writers. For those who spend their creative time in enchanted forests, alternate universes, and dystopian futures, it comes with the territory. Given this, I do my best to act normal although I’m never quite sure what normal actually is. It seems a flickering will-o’-the-wisp, ready at my approach to lead me deeper into the bog of social expectations.

Define normal. I dare you.

I grew up telling stories, some of which got me in trouble. (At least until I learned to distinguish fiction from fibbing.) I was rarely bored. All it took to entertain me was a writing implement and a piece of paper or a window to stare through. Even a blank wall could become a blank canvas to be painted with mental images. Given this, it’s possibly understandable that the characters I invented took on minds of their own, even argued with me over plot details.

In my defense, I’ll state that other writers report a similar phenomenon.

I tend to forget just how unusual a writer’s life can seem to the uninitiated. Take the time when I carried my cup of coffee onto the porch while working out details of a plot with my husband through the screen door. A nice couple passed on the sidewalk, staring at me with baffling interest until I realized that from their perspective I’d been sitting on the porch talking to myself about elves.

For a long time I wouldn’t admit to anyone I knew that I wrote. I’d learned long ago that making such an outrageous statement brought attention that made my painfully shy, introverted self wish to disappear.

Thankfully, I’ve outgrown my shyness, but I would still rather keep my identity as a novelist on a need-to-know basis in real life. It’s simpler that way. But for the public person that I now am, being a private person is becoming more challenging.

I may have to settle for “fascinating.”


Janalyn Voigt‘s unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and fantasy creates worlds of beauty and danger for readers. Beginning with DawnSinger, her epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, carries the reader into a land only imagined in dreams. Click here to find Janalyn’s books on Amazon,or click here to find Janalyn’s books on Barnes & Noble.

Janalyn also writes western romance novels, and will publish in that genre under Janalyn Irene Voigt. She serves as a literary judge for several national contests and is an active book reviewer.

When she’s not writing, Janalyn loves to find adventures in the great outdoors.

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  1. A long time ago, I read Agatha Christie’s autobiography. I’ll always remember that part where she confesses to taking walks in order to figure out dialogue–that is, she walked up the street having conversations w/ herself. You’re obviously in good company–although talking to elves is pushing the limits of sanity, I have to say. ;) Spec fic authors are a bit odd.

  2. Sometimes you can pretend you were talking to the cat or the dog or whatever. But if somebody catches you speaking both parts of a two-party conversation, you might as well just enjoy being the neighborhood eccentric.

    1. It’s too late for me on that head, too. Meg. I have some of the best conversations when no one’s around.

  3. Yeah, the whole talking-out-the-plot thing can get you weird looks, or frightened waiters at Mexican restaurants — such as the time friends and I helped a fellow writer kill a character while we consumed tortilla chips and salsa. The tables around ours cleared in suspiciously short time.

    1. Ha ha! That reminds me of a research trip I took with several other writers who were helping me plot. We climbed to the top of a stone tower while discussing various ways a person could be pushed from it. That earned us a few strange looks, too.

  4. Honestly, the thing that resonated most for me was this: “For a long time I wouldn’t admit to anyone I knew that I wrote. ”

    It’s taken me forever to say “I’m a writer” without feeling a twinge like I’m trespassing somewhere I don’t belong. The mentions of talking to oneself, on the other hand, didn’t cause me to bat an eye… :)

    1. yesterday I had the opportunity to introduce myself, and for a second, flashed the insane idea to tell them I was a writer. Alas, I did not. One on one, yes, but big group setting, maybe not. especially since not everyone is comfortable with fantasy. So like Janalyn, I like to keep it as a need-to-know basis, but soon my pretties…soon. :-)

      1. It *almost* doesn’t make me twitch anymore, but I know it’s completely foreign to most of the people I talk to. Most of the people around me don’t really know what sci-fi and fantasy books are, in any case. One can say “Star Wars” or “Lord of the Rings” and still get a blank stare, or that skeptical glint of the eye that says one must be writing copycat stories, because Star Wars and LOTR have already been done and what else is there…I feel for inspirational romance writers who likely get tarred by the current “Fifty Shades” context!

  5. “I may have to settle for “fascinating.”

    You could settle for much worse, Janalyn. Enjoyable post all the way around…elves, indeed. Were they acting out or behaving themselves? :)

    “Define normal. I dare you.”

    For reasons unbeknownst to you, I just can’t seem to resist this challenge.

    OK, so I seem to be able to define normality, or approximate a standard, in relation to those closest to me. This has proven a highly successful strategy over the years!

    Also, I just have this nagging thought that there must be some kind of theory of normality we can construct by observing the actions of those with l-y-n names. :)

    1. I believe the theory begins with, “Those with l-y-n names are unquestionably number one…”

      Janalyn, that would be the infamous Marc Schooley, up to the usual hijinks. :)

  6. Allrightthen… no flickering will-‘o-the-wisp activity. Conforming to this blog of social expectations. Pretty impressive list of titles you have there, Janalyn.

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