Nonfiction writer Jane Devin has just self-published her first memoir, Elephant Girl, under extraordinary conditions. I’m so glad she was willing to share a bit about it.
Who are you and where is “here” for you right now?
I know I’ll be here in Albuquerque until August 30th, when my temporary lease expires. After that, I’m not sure where I’ll go.
I’ve been taking life month by month, sometimes day by day, while working to get my book, Elephant Girl, off the ground. I’m lucky that there are people who’ve supported my efforts. Without them, I’d likely be living down by the river without a van.
What is your creative practice and what have you learned from it?
I don’t know that I have a creative practice. . .I’ve been writing for so long and I think for me it’s less about process than it is about space. Space is hugely important to me. I need a space I feel comfortable in — one that I can feel like I own — with no intrusions, a coffee pot, a sense of privacy, and the ability to close out the rest of the world. If I have those things, the stories just flow. If I don’t, then my writing is much more stilted and uncertain.
Where do you find inspiration?
People. It’s always people for me. I’m endlessly fascinated by other people’s quirks, beliefs, and ways of being. Tiny twists in the road, events that at the time didn’t seem so important, even one sentence can dramatically change someone’s life or the way they feel about something.
How do you overcome the creative barriers you encounter?
Well, I didn’t have a comfortable space to write Elephant Girl in, so I ended up writing the whole book in the cab of a borrowed truck. Not a big truck, either, but a small Ford Ranger. It was the closest I could get to private and secure. I went to the Starbucks parking lot in Los Lunas every day for eight months, parked in a far off corner, and called it my office. (ed: if Jane can finish a book sitting in the cab of a pick up truck, I have absolutely no excuses. None.)
How do you regenerate when feeling artistically depleted?
I’m a very visual person, so art is inspiring to me. I particularly love paintings and photography. Sometimes a picture will evoke a whole story that may not have anything to do with the image itself, but rather the way the image made me feel. In fact, right now I’m writing a book based on a longstanding habit I have of writing letters to my favorite artist, Vincent Van Gogh. Letters to Vincent should be done by the end of the year.
What does success look like to you?
From the time I was a kid, it’s always been the same. A tiny house by the ocean, two dogs, a mahogany desk. . .a bowl of fruit on the table, white curtains that billow in the breeze. A four poster bed and a weekend lover who really does love me. Going grocery shopping in an old convertible. Wearing a warm, gray sweater and a pair of jeans. Just to lead a very simple, loving life as a writer with a room of her own.
What do you want people to know about you and your work?
It’s here! The book that took me over four decades to write is on Amazon. I want people to read it — I think it’s the best work I’ve done so far.
Jane’s blog can be found at JaneDevin.com. You should totally check it out. It’s awesome. Plus, she’s got a Kickstarter fundraising project set up to help her promote her book. Please consider contributing.