Jay is an award-winning copywriter, editor and author who excels at ‘getting under the hood’ of her clients. She weaves her storytelling around a business message and helps clients create compelling content. Jay has a background in Creative Writing and Musical Theatre and raises a tribe of small humans and critters in the hills of Perth. She’s married to the best husband/roadie on Earth and can tap dance like a demon. There’s a book in her, hidden, waiting for the day.
What follows is an interview with her about her influences.
TRM: What were your favourite texts growing up? What do you think the appeal was to you?
JCC: I was a literature fiend growing up. I read everything I could get my hands on and was heavily influenced by my Literature teacher in High School. We used to call her Viper Piper. She was savage and smart and would eat you alive if you flaked, but she cultivated my tendency to write authentically, even if that writing was shocking.
I was a romantic at heart; Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Sense and Sensibility. I read them once and was enchanted. Then grew into a teenager and read them again with an anger at the women characters.
I remember reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover as a teen and realising that romance could also be dark and full of angst, both light and beautiful and mysterious and hurtful. That first book that wounded you? That’s gold.
I was further encouraged at University by my Creative Writing Lecturer, Australian Author Deborah Robertson.
She took my dark, fluffy, romantic writing and helped me hone it to be more direct, more genuine, and I found my voice.
What texts do you keep coming back to and why?
I can’t say I enjoy reading Tim Winton, but I consume his books like water. I always want them to have a glimmer of happiness at the end, and they don’t, and I re-read them again anyway. Ironically, although I find Australian cinema sometimes hard to watch, I love that feeling of recognition when he describes Subiaco in Cloud Street, or when he talks about the waves down south.
I like to ‘holiday-read’ anything by Tobsha Learner; that mix of dark, romantic, slightly appalling fiction always gets me.
I’ve re-read Shantaram over 10 times. I am excited by books that will not only take me weeks to read (because I can normally consume a book in an evening) but where every page is worth the time. I am fascinated by India, so Shantaram really fit the bill for me. Plus, it has that tone of redemption that I enjoyed.
The Handmaid’s Tale, The Slap, The Red Tent, The Shadow of the Wind, The Poisonwood Bible – these are books I could read again and again.
I read for pleasure; pure, unadulterated escape.
Are there texts that relate to your life?
When The Bride Stripped Bare was published, I felt like someone had read my heart. That’s the essence of good fiction, I believe. That ability to resonate so powerfully with a group of people that they feel you’re speaking their lives.
I know lots of women felt like that about Eat, Pray, Love, which I enjoyed, but it didn’t alter the way I thought about the world. I don’t usually do self-help books, but I am part way through Big Magic, which is like having a long, involved conversation about art and life over coffee, cake, then a few wines.
I was named after a character in The Great Gatsby. I would have preferred Daisy, I think, but Mum called the shots then.
Are there any artists and texts that influence you creatively?
All good writing is influence for good writing. I read as much as I can, including online blogs, articles, beautiful, juicy content that makes me feel something. Then I’m off again, creating something new.
Are there any quotes or other words of wisdom you find helpful for your practice?
Progress is better than perfection. I work in digital content creation – copywriting – so for me all copy is editable. Just begin.
When people come to my workshops or hire me as a one on one consultant and they express their frustration about not being able to write well, I simply encourage them to write. Write. Write. Write.
And then, because we’re writers and we’re sometimes introverted and don’t want anything to be out in the world that’s not perfect, we don’t often show ourselves off. Running a small business is uncomfortable for me, I have to market myself constantly, which is outside of what I’m good at, so I may as well make that discomfort work. Put your writing under the nose of as many people as you can.
What is a text that every developing artist should read/watch/listen to?
Everyone in the world should read To Kill A Mockingbird, simply because we need more compassion. Artists can change the mindset of the masses, so I think kindness is a good place to start.