By Jules Lavallee
Los Angeles, California (The Hollywood Times) 05/29/2020
How did you unleash your “Inner Author?”
Joan Gelfand: Slowly. I began writing poems in high school, showing work selectively to friends. By college, I branched out to reading at open mics and getting my work published. After college, I wrote my first novel but I didn’t have my first book published until I had graduated from Mills College with my MFA.
During the dog days of isolation, Is now the perfect time to write our best seller? How do we start?
Joan Gelfand: First, decide on a topic. And, decide if this book is for personal or public consumption. For example, genre fiction sells more than literary fiction. Do you want to write a crime story? A romance? Historical fiction? That’s important to know.
For ideas – look at the news. Is there a story that compels you? A personality that draws you in? Could you sustain your interest for 200 pages? Or, are you aching to tell the story of your first love?
Having a passion for your project is essential since you will be married to it for several years 🙂
Next, make the time and space! Even in isolation, we can be distracted! Cooking, news feeds, email, phone calls, zoom calls, errands, not to mention jobs, and children demand our time. What can you carve out to be just your time?
Some writers like to wake up before dawn and grab that quiet hour or two. Others can only write at night. When is your brain most alive and awake? That’s when you write!
Tell us about your new Summer beach read, “Extreme.” Where can we find it?
Joan Gelfand: “Extreme” is a story of love, ambition, extreme sports, and betrayal in the world of a small startup in Silicon Valley. It’s about how a woman, brilliant and driven but from the wrong side of the tracks, navigates the world of the power-hungry and out of the box thinkers. It’s about Hollywood and the entertainment business and at its core a love letter to California.
The book is in pre-order now on Amazon. The publication date is 7/14/20 at which point it will be in bookstores and on-line.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Joan Gelfand: Other writers – Yoko Ono was one of my first inspirations but so many writers inspire me. My favorite writers are Francine Prose, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen, Michael Chabon, and Haruki Murakami.
I also am inspired by visual art, music, and dreams. I love jazz especially, but classical music has been known to move me to poetry. (Especially hearing Branford Marsalis perform at the San Francisco Symphony!)
One series of dreams I had about the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti was made into a short movie that was featured in 20 international film festivals * and won “Best Poetry Film” in the World Film Festival.
You are a coach and a writing teacher. What will people notice first about you?
Joan Gelfand: I am warm and friendly but very serious! I dress professionally. I very quickly impress upon writers that if they want their publishing dreams to come true, they must work very hard, be very committed, and have a strong network of colleagues and supporters.
Why is writing good for the soul?
Joan Gelfand: There is a saying “We write to discover who we are.” I think that when we sit down to write, whether amateur or professional, we are trying to make sense of a chaotic world. So many people now, during the pandemic, are taking stock about what is truly important in their lives and what can be eliminated. But even besides making sense of things, writing can help to ground us in our thoughts and feelings. So many times, and especially when I am confused, or trying to make a hard decision, writing will help me to access what I feel and want. This is good for the soul. Being TRUE to ourselves – and not just being in reaction mode to what others want – is life-enhancing.
“The Ferlinghetti School of Poetics” a film by Dana Walden and Kelly Sullivan-Walden showed in Cannes, Austria, Palermo, Hollywood, The Beat Museum, Malta, Athens, Rome, London, and other smaller festivals.