Because I want this website to serve writers, not just myself, I hope author spotlights will expose the world to to the plethora of creative minds working in the world. I am so privileged to have a good friend in Janelle Gray, a creative powerhouse, and it was an easy choice to make her my first spotlight! She says it better than I can, so let's listen to what she has to say:
What project are you currently working on?
Because it's submission time, I'm working on quite a few. Rage, a stage play; two teleplays Dub City and Consort; a short film, Uprising; and a feature, Kin. Depending on what day of the week it is, I'm editing all of them.
Up until now, what is your biggest success as a writer?
Oddly, the biggest success I've had has little to do with the work but with my confidence in claiming that I'm a screenwriter. I've always felt and said I was a writer at heart. But now, it's no longer at heart. I'm just a creative writer — a novelist, playwright, and screenwriter — not only am I recognized as such, but I recognize myself.
What is your strongest craft element and which is your weakest?
I'm a character writer. I hear characters long before I know what they'e doing. Plot is something I have to work hard at.
Where do you want to be at the end of your writing journey?
The word "end" just made me sad. I don't think in terms of an end to my journey; I think of them as stops along my path. I hope to have had any of my works produced. I would also love to sit in an audience and watch my work performed live. While I'm not creating, I want to serve as a consultant and professor for/to other creative writers.
How do you motivate yourself to keep going?
Right now, my characters keep me motivated. They're kind of bossy. They consistently yell at me until I honor them on the page. When I'm not creating, I also head an organization called Echoes Media. Because my organization focuses on social justice and human rights, I am consistently motivated by the people who are willing to share their stories with me and their audacity to take up space and change the world for the better by telling us about their experiences.
Do you think it is important to have a writing community or do you prefer to work alone?
I honestly have no idea what I would do without my writing community. They are the people who help me out of creative prisons of my own making, talk me off ledges, and encourage me to keep going. I create pretty much solo, but I'm only able to do that because a wide group of about 15 people who are also telling brilliant stories and have faith in mine.
How can people best support your work?
You can follow me on social media @writer_janelle and also my organization, @echoesmedia1, where I often blog. Also continue to check my website www.janellegray.com where I'll keep you updated on any awards my work is receiving.
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
Honor creatives. So often, artists and artistry are both rendered as hobbies, not considered real jobs. We're considered the dreamers, but rarely are we perceived as creative experts. When the world shut down due to COVID-19, the first thing people did was escape through music, television, movies, and all things Netflix, Hulu, and Prime. We were the ones who made that escape possible. We took you to magical worlds. We taught you about discrimination and history. We showed cultures from around the world. We're not only dreamers; we are there, ushering you as you find your own dreams. And we take great pride and consider it an honor to do so.
Wow! Beautiful answers. I love following you on your journey, and I am sure others will as well.