In this week’s Behind the Pen series I interviewed Jay Callahan. Jay is a local writer and also has a blog & running a great project on Instagram called “manVANingthroughwinston” which he discusses more on below.
What do you love about writing?
Everything. I used to hate the editing part of writing while I was growing up, but I don’t mind that as much now. I guess the worst thing about writing for me is not having enough time!
How did you get into the writing world?
I majored in Journalism at West Virginia University, but never took fiction writing and blogging very seriously until my wife and I had our first child, McKinley. I always had the dream of writing a book though. I read a lot and I don’t sleep much, so I have a lot of time late at night when my wife and kids are sleeping.
I am a full-time soccer coach at Salem College. We are really busy in the Fall and after our season in 2013, I sat down and wrote a book, Collisions. It only took me a couple months to actually write the book, and I had a good friend in Alaska help me with the editing. We had our second child, and a couple years later I started my blog.
What top 2 challenges do you find in writing?
I mentioned it earlier, but definitely time. I read that Stephen King gets up every morning and takes a walk and then writes for a couple hours. He then eats lunch and takes a nap every afternoon. After he naps, he spends time doing other things. Basically, he has 2-4 hours a day that he sets aside to write. I dream about having that type of a schedule with my sporadic lifestyle, but I also would love to be able to write like Stephen King and take a nap every day! One can only wish.
The second biggest challenge isn’t the writing, but the time it takes to edit and promote your writing. It my dream world, I would also have a full-time editor. Writing my blogs is only about 10-20% of the time I spend on them.
Where do you find inspiration for your article/blog ideas?
This is easy. All surround areas that I am very passionate about: my family and Winston-Salem!
What is… 1. The most challenging piece you’ve written & why and 2. Your favorite piece you’ve written & why?
- The most challenging piece was definitely the blog I wrote about panic attacks that I occasionally suffer from. It wasn’t as hard writing it as it was to share it to the world. That is what I went back and forth on the most as a writer.
- I really like everything I do as a writer. That is not saying they are all great by any means. But as a blogger, I am my own boss. So I get to pick and choose what I write, and I try to only write about things I am passionate about.
Do you have any tips to writers on conducting interviews and/or drafting interview questions?
Don’t be scared to ask people if you can interview them. If you don’t ask you are guaranteed to not interview them, whereas if you ask, the worst thing that will happen is they don’t respond or say no. Then you are still in the same boat of not interviewing them as if you didn’t ask in the first place!
If you could give an upcoming writer, one piece of advice what would it be?
Write what you enjoy writing about and just do it. That means to not worry about what others think or question everything you are writing. Write it and then go back and change it or trash it if you don’t like it. I feel like there are a lot of people that want to write but for whatever reason, question themselves. You will never know if you don’t just try it.
Where can people go to see more of your work?
www.jmclaincallahan.com is the link to my blog. I write a lot of stuff on my personal, Jay Callahan, Facebook page. I have a writer’s page but I just don’t have time to update it all! I also am doing a project in 2017 I am calling manVANingthroughwinston that you can follow on Instagram. I am trying to raise money for different local organizations, while coming up with different ways to showcase some different Winston-Salem talents.