Expat Writer in Burgundy: Janice Barnett
Janice Barnett has quickly learned that while people have a right to comment, she too has a right to choose whether to accept them or not.
Name: Janice Barnett
Title of book: They Thought It Was All Over - They Were Right!
Date of book launch: April 2010 (It was an e-book since July 2006. Reached No 3 on Amazon’s sports psychology section)
Why did you start writing?
I’ve always written since as far back as I can remember. I loved telling stories or doing English assignments. I think it was the chance to live in an alternative world with no boundaries that attracted me. Being able to reach an audience, whether for entertainment or to spread a message (or a blend of the two) is what drives me now. That, and a desire to vocalise what is important to me.
What topics do you write about?
At present the power of a positive mindset set using football as a metaphor. In general I write about my life in France and achieving everything you wish to achieve.
What do you like most about writing?
A chance to explore ideas and play with words. Things sound very different when they’re on paper compared to when they’re kicking around inside your head.
Writing is a lonely occupation, do you find that difficult?
They Thought It Was All Over – They Were Right! was a collaborative work and my next book will be co-written with round the world yacht skipper Alex Phillips. As my ‘day job’ is running a creative arts centre, I spend most of my time surrounded by others. The peace and calm I experience when writing is far removed from loneliness.
How has living abroad influenced your work as a writer?
My blog is a diary of my life and experiences in France. Living here gives me a different perspective and my home in the countryside of southern Burgundy removes many of the distractions and frustrations I encountered in London. Here I can breathe and think uninterrupted.
Are writing classes/ groups easy to find in the country you live in?
They are for me as I run a creative arts centre where writing classes are held (in French and English) and writing groups come to stay.
Which writers have inspired you the most?
I love Collette and Isabelle Allende: both bring beauty to often brutal situations. I have recently started to read Miriam Halahmy and Jessica Duchan, both writers will be running events here which is exciting beyond words.
What hurdles did you encounter when you were trying to gain more recognition as a writer?
Being told that it was difficult to break into publishing if you were a novice and that I needed an agent. Limiting beliefs if ever I heard them – just write and get your writing out to as many people as possible.
How do you deal with rejection or harsh comments?
Accept that people have a right to say what they think and I can choose whether I accept the comments or not. You’ll recognise whether the comments are designed to offer helpful advice or just to hurt and dismiss. I write because I love it. If editing and feedback improve my writing then so much the better, harsh comments are often gifts and rejection?- I see this as missed opportunities for those rejecting.
What advice would you give to budding writers?
Keep writing. Focus on what drives you to write and what you hope to achieve through your writing. Blogs and magazine articles/ short stories/ poems are good ways to start.
How do you see your future as a writer?
I write when I feel inspired and have no grand designs.
In this new series of Expatica interviews, we invite published expat writers to share their thoughts on how living abroad has affected their writing career. If you would like to fill out a questionnaire too, send an email with 'Please send me an Expat Writer in France questionnaire' in the subject line to editorFR@expatica.com.
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