Guest Blog Post Author: Janelle Jalbert, Rave Review’s Spotlight Author
Have you ever had a friend or loved one make an off-handed remark that touched a nerve with you because they seemed not to “get it”? It’s funny how those words tend to stick with you no matter how you vow to let it go.
The flake factor
In 1999, I was visiting with a friend who flew in for his ten-year law school reunion. We were catching up on recent life events, and I mentioned I wasn’t teaching at the time.
“I’ve never met anyone so driven yet is such a flake,” he blurted.
I smiled and laughed it off as the topic of conversation awkwardly shifted. Still, his comment popped up in my mind for years to come. I have always been a terminal overachiever. In school, I may not have been valedictorian, but I always was at the top of the class. Whatever job I was working, I always rose through the ranks quickly. When the time came to decide between my own interests and being there for my family, I chose family. How could he think that I was a flake?
It took years for me to do what I should have done over dinner that night in 1999. I finally asked what made him think that I was a flake. He began by listing all the jobs I had held from janitor to waitress; box gal to manager; business owner to teacher and everything in between. Then he went into my interests in motorsports, watersports, wine, travel, photography, writing, and so on. He took a breath and huffed, “That’s why. It seems that you are to be able to make things work…work well…but then you start something else. You should stick to one thing.”
Flake versus “faceted”
My ultra-achieving and responsible side has always been a driving force in my life. But, my alter ego loves to suck the marrow from life and try out any reasonable opportunity that comes my way. Unlike the picture my friend painted, I did in fact have a teaching career that lasted more than a decade. Writing has been a theme in my life since I was in grade school. The thing is that I’m not afraid of challenges and enjoy working my creative muscles by trying something new or learning constantly.
While he saw each of my forays into uncharted territory as a diversion, I saw them as add-ons to what I was already doing. Most of the time, I juggle pursuits and interests simultaneously, so for someone who views life in an all-or-nothing, one-path-to-success way of living, I guess it would appear as flaky. While he may view me as having multiple personalities a la Stephen King’s Sybil, I prefer to think of it as multi-faceted (like a diamond). It’s an approach that makes it possible for me to be a successful writer.
How does “flake” translate into inspiration?
Despite my uber A-type tendencies in many areas, I made a conscious decision as a young adult to allow life in. I firmly believe if something piques your interest or catches your eye, it is for a reason. In fact, I make a game of it…collecting information and experiences, looking to see how it pops up again in my life. It’s like a scavenger hunt. It makes life fun, and it’s the way a writer gets inspiration, at least that’s how I do.
“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
–Henry David Thoreau
Let me show you how it has worked.
- Without a willingness to attend a wine tasting party in 2000, I wouldn’t have developed the interest, knowledge, or insight to pitch WINE FOR BEGINNERS in 2014 which led to my first publishing contract.
- Without listening to a voice seemingly out of nowhere while exiting a restaurant, TRIANGULATING BLISS and The Mystique of Living Series wouldn’t exist.
- Without working as a waitress and later a restaurant manager or having run a bakery I wouldn’t have had the insight into the workings of Bliss Bar & Grill in TRIANGULATING BLISS.
- Without being a financial advisor, I wouldn’t know what the character of Richard Matthews in TRIANGULATING BLISS could have experienced.
- Without many seemingly random events in my life, many of the stories in FLASH 40: Life’s Moments would not exist.
- Without a diverse background, I wouldn’t have been able to write more than a dozen best-selling books for clients as a ghostwriter or serve as a copywriter for major international com
- Without my love of motorsports, I wouldn’t have been a sports reporter/photographer or experienced the amazing events in WINGDOG: Soul Pup.
For me personally, inspiration comes from living life, soaking up experiences and opportunities, being willing to try new things (even in my writing), and understanding that “random” events can indeed serve a purpose. In the end, giving myself permission to be a flake has been one of the most rewarding decisions that I have ever made.
Janelle Jalbert is the award-winning author of WINGDOG: Soul Pup, A Magical Mutt Memoir as well as Triangulating Bliss, Book 1 in The Mystique of Living Series, medalist for cross-genre fiction in the 2015 New Apple Book Awards, and Flash 40: Life’s Moments, winner of the 2015 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards Silver Medal for Anthologies. She worked as a ghostwriter, a copywriter, and a motorsports reporter. Jalbert enjoys bringing stories to life that celebrate the magic in everyday living. Jalbert currently lives in Southern California, though she regularly returns to her second home in North Carolina when her pack of pups grants her a vacation. Learn more at www.janellejalbert.com.
WINGDOG: Soul Pup will be released on Amazon, March 7, with full release across most major retailers in June 2016