A Plain White Jennifer

In the beginning Jenn created the novel and the blog. And the blog was formless and void. And the spirit hovered over the surface of the page.

I think a lot about the duality of Creatives. Eternal forces made to mimic the supreme Creator. And also, crazy little balls of frantic helplessness, bouncing about trying to make ends meet.

Lately, as I’ve been querying agents to represent the novel I never meant to write, I’ve felt a lot of pressure to be Asian. Or transgender. Or more intellectual. Or have a bigger platform. Be a better planner. A harder worker. A higher achiever. Anything but a plain white Jennifer. 

(Over a million and a half. Plain white Jennifers. In case you were wondering).

So I’m calling all Creatives in the world to take a collective breath. In the Genesis 1 story of creation, “the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the waters.” Hovering seems like a luxurious thing to do in the process of creating the whole universe. 

Stepping away from the heated discussions over whether the Earth was actually created or not, the rhythm of the story is well worth the few minutes it takes to read, as an exercise in being intentional in imagination and construction. I mean…talk about world building! https://biblehub.com/esv/genesis/1.htm

I heard author Gary Schmidt speak about his unhurried process. He writes a modest 500 words a day. And some days he doesn’t, because he has other obligations. He’s a professor at Calvin. He goes to a local prison once a week, to teach a writing course. He makes time to hike with his dogs. He’s helping to edit his late wife’s writing. So it’s not like he’s loafing around. He has chosen to write no more (no less) than 500 words per day. I read his YA novel, Orbiting Jupiter, and the economy of words he employed was splendid. Unhurried. Unforced. Powerful.

For the last four days I’ve endured a workshop on an aspect of songwriting that I don’t even really care about. The presenter’s energy couldn’t be more different than Mr. Schmidt’s (I want to call him Gary, because I feel like I know him. He’s that personable and down to earth). Work harder. Plan better. Do more. Be an adult. What’s holding you back? How can you afford NOT to buy my longer course?

I could feel my soul wilting, until I remembered that I didn’t owe this person my soul. And I walked out.

I’m not Asian. I’m not transgender. I’m not cool. (I’m a little cool.) But I’m not marginalized. And, although I’m good on stage (because y’all crack me up, and I like you), I still don’t have the booking thing down. I’m just a plain white Jennifer.

But also…I’m a wheelhouse for story, song, and movement that flows to and from all of you other wheelhouses. We’re imbued with the Spirit who imagined and designed every magnificent detail of the universe and spoke it into existence. So…cool.

In my novel, one of the characters is a “Breath.” That’s what I want to be. She gifts people with the ability to pause, to assimilate, and to move on from a place of strength (appropriately, her name is Selah).

I’m afraid I’m more like the heroine, though, trying so hard to pull off badass, that I fuck up my relationships in the process. (See? This is why I’m never going to sell the book. I talk about the Almighty in one paragraph, and drop the f bomb in the next.) (Also, I use too many parentheses.) (#CSlewis’fault) (the parentheses, not the f bombs)

Forget what the business requires of you. What does the LORD require of you? But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Michah 6:8)

11 Replies to “A Plain White Jennifer”

    1. Thanks, Sabra! I’ve had a few agents ask for more, so we’ll see… I certainly don’t mind going the indie route, as we have with our songs. It just seems more legit to do that in music than literature, for some reason. I’m more than happy to send you a copy of it at any time though! I’d love your feedback.

  1. Jennifer, Ken and I miss you hearing you sing live! We play your CD’s often.
    I cannot wait to read your book and I am very excited for you!

    1. Thank you, Friend!!! We miss you too. I’ll be playing a kids’ show in Kong’s Mountain in May, so we’ll try to schedule the Muse!

  2. Jennifer, I have wanted to read your book ever since you hurt your leg and started writing. Check out this other Jennifer, a writer, who pushes her books out independently: http://www.jenniferfoehnerwells.com/blog
    She talks a a bit about the independent thing in some of her blogs. I have read all five of her Fluency books. Could apply to you…ya nevah know…

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