I always love hearing about people that spend years doing another vocation before realizing their dream of writing. We all take a different path to write, don’t we? We all have something to learn from one another. I know you’re going to enjoy the story of Janet Grimes and her path to the writing life. Enjoy this interview.
Like many writers, you had a knack for it as far back as childhood. Also like many writers, you had to put your writing dreams on hold until later in life.
I recognized my love of writing in the sixth grade, when given a simple writing assignment that required me to use four sentences in a one page paragraph. Eight pages and several hours later, I had my first fictional tale that involved a couple of orphans who found each other and eventually married. When I finally finished, I thought, “Wow, I’m glad I uncovered that story.”
Tell us about your time as a police dispatcher?
At the age of 18, I began working as a 9-1-1 Operator and Dispatcher for the Police Department in Nashville, TN. Assigned to the midnight shift, my sheltered world exploded with the harsh existence that many people face. After all, no one calls the police to say they are having a great night. Simply answering the phone placed me in the middle of someone’s worst nightmare, and even if I did everything as trained, it did not translate into a happy ending for the caller on the other end of the line.
During this time, I was thrilled to write for Radio Waves, our Departmental Newsletter. The odd thing about this line of work is that we rarely found out the end of each caller’s story. We investigated each call, passed it on to the responding police officers and moved along to the next one. So, for the newsletter, I focused on the people behind the voices we heard each night on the phone. More importantly, I concentrated on the emotions that unified us as we tried to survive long-term in such a negative environment.
Tell us about your new series of children’s books.
Now that I have chosen to pursue writing as my career, my first goal is to chase down all the ideas that have been floating around in my head. This may take awhile, after so many years of suppression.
My series of children’s books started with Don’t Cheat, Pete!, a rhyming story I wrote one Sunday afternoon when it was my turn to assist with the children’s worship at our church. It depicts a boy who has several opportunities to cheat or hide the truth, but the kids, as a group, yell out on cue, “Don’t Cheat, Pete!” It was a smashing success with the kids, but it took me twenty years to add to it and submit it to an actual publisher
And your novel! What do you hope people will take away from it?
My first full length book is part memoir, part devotional, not so much a novel. It is entitled Chasing a Shadow: Yearning for a Bond with a Heavenly Father. It chronicles my life of growing up without a father (mine died when I was a baby) and how that pushed me toward a relationship with God. Sometimes, that deep bond we desire with God seems like a fruitless pursuit, like chasing a shadow.
In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?
The measure of a successful writer, I believe, comes through the number of lives that are touched in some way. My value can’t be tied up in money, numbers or fame. What keeps me in my chair each day is the hope that if I continue to write, reaching deep into the heart of my readers, they will discover a story that matters long after they have closed the book. A successful writer tells stories that matter.
Where can we learn more about you?
My website address is www.janetmorrisgrimes.com. I admit that I am a beginner in the publishing business, but after attending my first writer’s conference this past June, I came away realizing that no one knew how to do this when they first started. Writing is the easy part; understanding the rules of the game and forging my way through the publishing door is much more difficult.
Anything else you’d like to add?
So much to learn. So much room for doubt. But the truth is that there really is no finish line. I suppose I will write until I run out of things to say.