31 Days of Author Madness: J. M. Butler

The Fiver

1. What is your writing process?

My writing process varies a lot, but at a minimum it involves putting words into some sort of document. Sometimes I act out scenes before I draft them, other times I brew a nice cup of tea and curl up with a book that I love. Other times I just get to it and realize half an hour later that I’m only partially dressed and the lemon juice is still sitting out. Sometimes it’s crazy and disorganized, the veritable home of chaos. Other times it’s quiet and lovely. Though, as a general rule, if my desk is completely clear, then my cats have gotten to it and shoved everything off.

But really all that matters to the writing process for me is that eventually the story gets down. If I do that jotting down words while on the treadmill or trying not to laugh at the absurd translations that come from trying to narrate my story, then that works for me. I just want my stories to get done and out there.

2. What inspires you to write?

I am inspired by almost everything it seems. Writing is a need for me. I have to do it, and as a result, everything around me becomes inspirational in a sense. Either something to emulate or reflect or avoid or do better.

3. Writing is considered a dream job by many, but what if you were granted the opportunity for a true, magical ‘dream job’. What would it be and why?

I would always be a storyteller. But I suppose a sorceress who can read minds and command mythical creatures like dragons, chimeras, manticores, unicorns, and so on wouldn’t be a bad runner-up.

4. You are standing on a stage, addressing a high school auditorium of teenage creative writers. What advice would you impart to them about the craft and the career path of being a writer?

Plan to write a lot. You don’t have to write every day, but writing every day makes it easier to reach proficiency. Essentially it is a journey. The more that you do, the farther you will get. But don’t worry about rushing it. If you can write fast, great! Write as fast as you can. If you can only write slow, great! Write at the pace that works best for you.

Don’t compare yourself to other authors. If you can see something that you can learn, that’s fine. But if you’re looking at your fellow authors and thinking, “I’m never going to make it” or “I suck” or anything like that, you need to stop. Your journey is your own. The path you are on is your own. If you keep at it, you will make it. No one can tell you how long or how short that journey will be. But don’t despise it. Embrace the process. Learn all you can, and support your fellow creators. They aren’t your enemies. Their success won’t take away from you. So celebrate with them and push yourself forward ethically and courageously. No one can stop you except you so don’t get in your own way.

5. You’re stranded in a snowed in cabin, well stocked up on food, but no internet. What is on your emergency book shelf?

Oooh, let’s see. My emergency bookshelf would include some green tinted stenographer pads and pilot fine point pens. Then it would also include several books of mythology, including prime sources like the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda. Of course I would have to have The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, Phantastes, The Chronicles of Narnia, Dracula, Aku Aku, The Space Trilogy, Collected Works of Shakespeare, The Writings of Mark Twain, and then a couple bags of new books. There’s probably some others that I am missing here, but that’s all right. They’ll still be at home when I get back. Currently I’m hoping to be stranded in this well-stocked cabin for a couple days.

Where to find her:



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