Rich Writers is a series of interviews with writers at various stages of their careers, sharing their thoughts on how to balance writing with the rest of life and how to thrive on the writers’ road.
Cicily Janus reports: I’m in a very good place right now, because I have ideas that are working for me, and not ideas that I’m not sure will work. Instead, I’m in that sweet spot where my pitch has worked. I have an agent who believes in me, despite some extensive hand-holding.
I only got here by walking through some very “salty spots”, though, the coarse kind that hurts!
Now, I have validation for what I’m trying to do.
Cheryl: What’s been the most helpful tool or resource along the way?
Cicily: Reading the right kinds of books. If you’re writing nonfiction, read nonfiction, etc.
I get tired of people saying, “I don’t have time to read.” Artists look at art, musicians listen to music—why should writers be any different?
Another thing that’s been really helpful to me as a writer? Actually WRITING and not wasting my time doing a lot of other things. There’s nothing like getting the words down, rather than just sitting around thinking about it!
It’s also been helpful for me to listen to music lyrics. People don’t realize the power of telling a story in two or three minutes. That’s the ultimate flash fiction. Listen to music, especially country or the blues, how they put a whole story in a few lines. People don’t listen to music enough in terms of listening to what the power of words can do.
Cheryl: How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?
Cicily: My family really influences me as a writer—they make me take pause and realize that what I’m doing is only a part of who I am.
Sometimes I get stuck when I’m writing. I tend to forget that I’m a writer with children and a husband, and they’re very much a part of me and not just something there.
I also take advantage of the captive audience I have at home!
I think a lot of women miss out on this because they say, “Go away, I’m busy” when they could be calling their kids over and asking questions, like: What if you took God and put him in Manhattan? What would be the coolest thing about that? You’d be surprised what they’ll say.
Random House author Cicily Janus has lived in too many states to count on one hand. Now, she’s thought to be living in Colorado with an assortment of friends, animals, family members and more. The voices have taken over and resulted in a pretty sweet deal from Random House. Her non-fiction book, The New Face of Jazz is due out on shelves in the Summer of 2010. Other projects in the wings include a children’s book, a biography of Diane Schuur, a novel about a sleep-deprived pilot and more. She also writes for Downbeat Magazine, Westword/Village Voice and offers private writing and editing sessions.
For kicks she nourishes the souls of other creatives at her semi-annual writing retreat in Breckenridge, CO: Writing Away Retreats. If you want to know more about Cicily in general, you can check out her website at or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. But, if you are a friendly publishing guru and would like to speak legalese with a contract in mind, please contact her super-duper agent, Gary Heidt of Signature Lit. He rocks.