It is a delight and an honor to host the multi-talented Ammi-Joan Paquette for Friend Friday, in celebration of the second book in her Princess Juniper series, Princess Juniper of the Anju (Philomel).
I think there are two types of writer. Okay, there are way more types of writer than two. But for this particular analogy, I’m thinking of two opposite types:
- The writer who likes to immerse themselves deeply in one project, live and breathe it into their whole soul until it’s complete, and only then move on to the next work.
- And the writer who’s never got less than six projects in play on any given day, all spinning tops and whirling dervishes and attention being pulled this way and that.
In case there’s any doubt at all, I’m the second type of author. From Day One, my creative mind has always pulled me in a dozen directions all at once. This is reflected in the very broad spectrum of my published books: realistic upper MG novel (Nowhere Girl); funny, spooky mystery MG (Rules for Ghosting); YA science fiction thriller (Paradox); fantasy adventure series (Princess Juniper); and a healthy serving of picture books tossed into the mix for good measure.
Honestly? I wouldn’t have it any other way. The real reason I do this, of course, is that’s just the way my writer muse calls to me. I draw creative energy from jumping from one task to another. It also keeps me from writer’s block: If one project isn’t speaking to me during my assigned writing time, I can skim over to another. Working on that one may jog loose the first when I veer back that way.
But a great side-product that I’ve found is that I’m always being challenged to try something new. Admittedly, this is not the most comfortable of writing poses. When I began writing my newest novel, PRINCESS JUNIPER OF THE ANJU, it was my first time writing a sequel. This was an entirely new learning experience, and one that was quite a bit tougher than I’d expected. The general storyline was set, but the details of how to go about it, how to weave pre-established elements and characters into a satisfying story, was a challenge. More than once I had to stop and shake my fist at the sky—or, more accurately, at myself who had gotten me into this predicament.
But here’s the thing I’ve realized about stretching boundaries: It hurts, but it hurts good. Like working a muscle that protests at first but then grows strong and supple and gives you an unexpected burst of power, there’s a jagged joy that comes from writing your way out of the comfort zone. Once you embrace the pain, you see that it came from growth all along.
So for me, that’s the only way to write: pushing right to the edges, taking risks, testing my own boundaries. It also means filling up my writing time with all the things that interest me: exploring new tangents and ideas, experimenting, trying those things I swore I would never do. And that’s not slowing any time soon: I’m currently co-writing a non-fiction series, kicking off in 2017, that is taking me waaaay off Easy Street. Not to mention six other new ideas, of course.
Spinning tops? Whirling dervishes? Bring them on. It’s the busy, for me, that fuels my engine and drives me forward.
Ammi-Joan Paquette is the author of the Princess Juniper series, for which book #2, Princess Juniper of the Anju, is out this month. Her other books for young readers include Ghost in the House, Nowhere Girl, The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies, and Rules for Ghosting. She is the recipient of a PEN New England Discovery Award honor, and her books have been recognized with starred reviews and on a variety of “Best of the Year” lists. In her non-writing life, she is a senior literary agent with Erin Murphy Literary Agency, representing many top children’s and teen authors. Visit her on the web at www.ajpaquette.com