Posting a fabulous interview with author and artist, Jessica O’Gorek, this morning I am again heartened by the voices of women in our world. Over the holidays, I had the pleasure of hosting my cousin and her fifteen year old daughter, Lena (name changed to protect her). Lena is bright, precoscious, and exceptionally sweet. She is artistic, musical, and passionately interested in theater and film. She also lacks an innate confidence, is worried about her weight, and is struggling to reconcile who she is with what the world expects her to be. In short, she is concerned that she doesn’t fit. As I continue to post interviews with women authors and artists, I am more and more convinced that the way our culture defines power and success are at serious odds with the real definitions of those words. For me, being successful and powerful have more to do with cultivating the essence of yourself and shining your light in the world than they do with money, appearance, or accolade. Enjoy the interview and don’t forget to follow the blog!
I was born in Chesapeake, Virginia on April 19th, 1979. I was raised within the American Indian religion and was taught great respect for the earth and all its living beings. Powwows, sweat lodges, vision quests, you name it, I’ve done it. I was the weird kid who would confront kids on the playground in elementary school when they squished a bug. I would very sincerely tell them what they were doing was morally wrong and then I would pray for the bug to come back as a butterfly in its next life. I grew up in the Bible belt. Reincarnation- not a popular concept.
I grew up admiring my father, Barry Weinstock, as an author. He took me around the country to different places so he could research and write his Wilderness Survival books. One of his greatest works, “The Path of Power,” was written with a great medicine man, Sunbear. When I was twelve I started hand writing novels. My first one was two thousand pages. My dad always encouraged me and would rave about my writing. He gave me the confidence I needed to keep writing and follow my dream. My daughter, who is twelve, is currently working on her first novel. I hope to continue the legacy.
To find out more about Jessica, visit http://1geminirising.wix.com/geminirising
From where do you draw inspiration?
My father was an author and he died on Oct. 6th 2012 of lung cancer. He wrote and published several books. (Path of Power, Barry Weinstock and Sunbear) I grew up moving around the country with him so he could research. My motivation was simple; I wanted to be like my daddy. When I was twelve, I started writing 2000 page novels, hand written pages! I would ask him to read them/edit them and he said he would, but never got around to it. I’m 33 now and when I handed him my manuscript of Gemini Rising and he knew his time was limited, he finally read and edited the first 300 pages. He had no idea what that meant to me. When he was in his last days, I looked at him, dead serious and said, “Dad, I’m going to be a famous writer one day.” His response was, “I have no doubts about that, honey.”
I also draw inspiration from my 13-year-old girl who is on her first novel too. I want to be able to send her to college and not owe thousands in student loans. I want to be able to take her to Disney World, just once. Writing is in my genes, creativity is a wonderful, addictive disease.
What is the hardest thing about your creative process?
The way it cuts on and off intermittently and cycles through. For example; I used to write for a couple of months, draw/paint for a couple of months and then read for six. I seemed to go through phases. However, I have now been working on my series for over two years and I have three novels to show for it. The older I get, the more my mortality means to me and the more I want to accomplish. The other thing that’s difficult is that I love to do so much and don’t have the time to do it all! With my books I have had the pleasure of creating my own cover art and of creating character pictures and profiles. This way, I get my passion for art and for writing sated at the same time.
Do you work every day, or only when inspiration strikes?
I used to write or paint only when inspiration hit, but I do it every day now. My characters live and breathe and I miss them if I don’t spend time with them.
How do you feel about the current art market/art climate?
I feel the arts are underfunded and short cut in society and in our education system. If people were exposed consistently to their creative tendencies starting at a young age, our society would be a less violent and a more mentally stable place.
If you could change one thing about the art world today, what would it be?
I would make art and creative writing a mandatory course in all grades K-12. It would not be an elective. This would guarantee some kind of exposure.
Talk a little bit about your current project and why you decide to embark on it.
I saw the Twilight Saga films, I read the books and then I read the Host. I took all of those books and went into a different universe. I was riding back from my inlaw’s house, after Thanksgiving dinner 2010 and I told my husband and my then 11 year old that I was going to write a book. I told them all about it and they said it sounded amazing. Onyx and Violette were born. Its going to be a series. I am not sure how long its going to be yet. I guess the why of my project is really simple. I enjoy writing.
How does being a woman impact your work?
I have found it very difficult to balance be the main bread winner in the family, with a full time job, a mom, a wife and Jessica, all at the same time. The only impact my sex has on my work is to my benefit. I am a mature multitasker, I am sensitive and insightful, yet persistent and tenacious with my dream. I think being a mother has helped me with all of these traits. I recently lost my high paying, high pressure job and it may have been a blessing. I actually have time to blog, promote myself ad write! Its freeing.
If you had the chance to address a group of young girls, what would you say to inspire them?
Absolutely under no circumstances should you give up or let anyone belittle you and tell you cannot achieve what you set out to do. I have come back from an abusive relationship, a crippling drug addiction and a crazy, self destructive adolescence. I have been clean for ten years, I have a house, a car, a beautiful daughter and husband and all of my mistakes and regrets have brought me to this point. Choose your battles wisely, repeat the serenity prayer as many times as needed and remember that old cliche, “Everything happens for a reason,” because it truly does.