By eight years old, Author Sandra Jeffs realized she had a penchant for storytelling, a great imagination. At eleven she wrote her first “book” on lined notebook paper. She made 6 copies for all her friends and hand-copied them out and gave them away – her first publication!?
She grew up poor and had to go to work at age eleven. Got married and had children early and there wasn’t much time as a mom working full-time to write. The yearning to write continued as she felt a passion to say things, create stories, and continued writing as much as possible. Her writing process tends to consume her. She is hit by the need to write and is unable to sleep, eat, or do anything else. Needless to say, that negatively impacted her care for her family and her job. She spent most of her twenties suppressing her creativity, in order to take care of the business of daily life. She only encountered a handful of writers who say this writing process is the same for them; most writers are able to write for a few hours a day and then can go deal with daily life and a job.
She was twenty-nine before she went to college and it was there that she could take creative writing classes and began to live out her passion for writing. Sandra finished her undergraduate degree and entered the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of Oregon. They were required to write a book in order to graduate. She wrote both fiction and poetry, but she wrote a book of poetry for her thesis called, Beyond the Seventh Day which was published in the university library system in 1986. She is about to publish that particular book to the public within weeks.
Tell me more about your latest book
My latest publication is a collection of 21 poems on abuse and healing from abuse. It is called, Finding Home: Healing from Abuse.
Poetry is a way for me to express my feelings about what is happening, about my life experiences, both positive and negative. I was abused as a child and in my marriage, which I had stuffed deep down inside. It wasn’t until I was in my 50’s that I finally faced it, finally realized how ignoring it had limited me in life and I began to write poems about it. These are cathartic expressions of my more painful life experiences. As I wrote I let the pain go and found ways to heal and people to support me in the healing process.
In 2015, I compiled the poems into a book to help others see themselves in the pain and to step into the healing, to release from the past. Afterall, the past is virtual reality, and we can learn from it and move on into a more empowered present-day self.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?
I honestly can say that I didn’t feel many challenges writing this book. The only difficulty was to be as accurate about the abuse, to state the facts rather than to blame, and to be accountable for my footsteps in that journey. Owning the truth of how I reacted (or didn’t react) gave me the courage to heal and let the past go. While writing this book, I learned to stop blaming others and myself, and to recognize of toxic people and to stay away/or get away from them.
What is your normal procedure to get your books published?
I analyse my topic and the journals or publishers who are publishing in that area. I make a list of those puplishers and then begin to send out query letters with samples from the book.
Poetry has a narrow focus, so it was daunting and time consuming to do this. I discovered that one must have a large social media presence to be considered as a good candidate for publication and one must do most of their own marketing, anyway. As a result, I decided to self-publish and researched the pros and cons and how to do it. I am thrilled with that choice, even though I dislike the marketing aspects, but that’s what one must do as an author, either way.
Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
It is very much a spiritual practice for me. I have written daily journals for over 45 years now and they have been central in my personal growth.
My creative writing process almost always takes the form of spiritual truths. I have a collection of poems about my travels – I’ve travelled to 35 countries, and lived and worked abroad for 13 years. That collection of poems about places all over the world are all about how they impacted spiritually. I am in the editing process for a novel that is a spiritual journey, so, YES, writing for me is a spiritual practice.
How many books have you written so far?
I’ve written four books: three poetry and one novel.
Published books are:
Finding Home: Healing from Abuse
Beyond the Seventh Day (in the publication process)
In the editing process and unpublished yet are:
I am the Voyageur
Overnight Envoy (working title for a novel)
What’s the best way to market your books?
Word of mouth is always the best marketing. That takes networking, having a strong social media presence, and book reviews.
Doing readings of the book, giving talks, and holding events are also critical. Get the word out there.
How hard or easy is it to establish and maintain a career in writing?
Statistics reveal that 95% of published authors earn less than $10,000 per year. Most of the remaining 5% who are earning more are writing pulp fiction. Whether one is or is not writing pulp fiction, one must be committed and passionate and refuse to allow the statistics to dampen your resolve. Many writers throughout time have spent years at their craft before being recognized. For example, J.K. Rowling sent her work to 100 publishers before finding someone to believe in her book.
I believe that writing must be a part of your soul, a passion that never dies and drives you, rather than a desire for fame and money. Just write and write and write while continually perfecting your skill and editing your manuscripts as much as possible.
Statistics are made to be broken!
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Believe in yourself more than anyone else does. When criticized, listen with your ears only, look at your work and see if their opinion/advice has merit and TOTALLY reject what has no merit. This requires a detachment from our writing, which most of us have poured our hearts and souls into – so we are very attached and often do not want to hear the truth, or change anything. One must learn to sift the good advice from the rubbish thrown at us through their own fears and biases.
Be cautious in choosing a mentor, teacher, editor, or a writing group to join. Our creative psyches are delicate and can be damaged easily. One must develop a thick skin, yes, but one must realize the difference between allowing overly biased and/or toxic people to give us advice. Remember that, “Opinion” is the lowest form of knowledge. It requires no accountability, no knowledge….” (Bill Bullard). The advice of others can give us perspective to make our work its best if we get good advice. Be selective.
Visit Author Sandra Jeffs book links:-
Book Launch for Finding Home: Healing from Abuse: (now until July 31st): https://sandrajeffs.com/collections/books/products/book-launch-finding-home-healing-from-abuse
Amazon (paperback, Kindle, Audiobook): https://www.amazon.com/Finding-Home-Healing-Sandra-Jeffs-ebook/dp/B094XMHBCW/ref=sr_1_3?crid=24AT172N1TZCK&dchild=1&keywords=finding+home+healing+from+abuse&qid=1626549572&sprefix=finding+home%3A+healing%2Caps%2C222&sr=8-3
Website (signed paperback copies): https://sandrajeffs.com
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