Episode 80A – Jimmy Essien – The Derelict Divine

Overview

Jimmy likes to do wood working and has built a sauna and a writer’s cabin. Some of his writing deals with woodworking and he’s been working on various projects.

Like many creatives, he plays music and devoted a large part of his life to playing music. That is, until he started to go deaf in his early 20’s. This led him back to writing.

Luckily, his hearing returned and he now employs his writing skills to songwriting along with writing non-fiction, fiction, and working with wood.

His Book

Website

https://www.jressien.com/

His Favorites

Favorite Bookstore

https://www.powells.com/

YouTube

Transcript

[00:00:44] Stephen: Hey, welcome to episode 80 of discovered wordsmith. This is a great episode. I’ve got Jimmy SCN on here. Really fun. Talk with him. He said a few things that kind of blew my mind. So listen up. There’s some really. The divergence of [00:01:00] knowledge from Jimmy. But I really had a great time with this interview before we do that.

[00:01:04] Stephen: You may have noticed I’ve been doing some shout outs and promos of some friends and their podcasts and services. So let me play one for you. You’ve. The last couple of weeks this is from Emma Desi. She runs a podcast called turning readers into writers. So for all you readers out there, if you’ve been thinking of writing a book, this is where to go check out Emma’s podcast, check out our services, see what she has to offer.

[00:01:29] Stephen: So here’s how.

[00:01:32] Jimmy: Hi, I’m Emma Desi. And I host turning readers into writers, a podcast for first time novelists each week I interviewed debut authors, editors, publishers, and even number one best sellers who help you find the time and confidence to write your own first. Together. We’ll keep you inspired, motivated, and educated on all things, writing, editing, and publishing.

[00:01:59] Jimmy: So head on [00:02:00] over to Emma desi.com, where you’ll find everything you need to know to start and finish your novel. I’ll see you in.

[00:02:09] Stephen: All right. So Emma runs a great podcast along with some other friends of mine. I’ve listed some recommendations on my website of podcasts. You really should go listen to, in fact, I’m sending us a Bloomingdale message out right now, telling you all to go listen to it.

[00:02:22] Stephen: You don’t have a choice. So if you believe that, then just go do it. And we’ll all be good. But anyway, before we go too much further, let’s go listen to our interview. Jimmy here, you. Okay, Jimmy, welcome to discovered wordsmith podcast. It’s great to see you on a day. That is not Saturday.

[00:02:40] Jimmy: Yeah. Thanks. It’s an honor to be on your show, Steven.

[00:02:44] Stephen: Cool. Great. All right. You know what? I know a little bit about you, but most everybody else doesn’t. So tell us a little bit about Jimmy, where you live and some of the things you like to do that aren’t writing.

[00:02:55] Jimmy: Yeah. I live in the Columbia river Gorge. It’s basically the. [00:03:00] Land along the river, separating Oregon and Washington about an hour.

[00:03:05] Jimmy: East of Portland is a really beautiful area. And we’d recently, we moved here a few years ago and I built a house on some land. So that’s where we live. And when I’m not writing, I am mostly building things. I’m a carpenter or woodworker and yeah. So that’s me.

[00:03:23] Stephen: And in our Saturday mastermind group that we’re both in, you’ve shared some wonderful pictures of a sauna and a garage or a shed, I believe.

[00:03:33] Jimmy: Yeah. Yeah. I’ve been working on this Sonic. It was going to be a small kind of inexpensive thing, but then so many things in my life, I ended up making them bigger, longer and more expensive than originally intended. I am there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I’m hoping to be done with the sauna in a few weeks to have a writer’s retreat here and use it.

[00:03:53] Jimmy: Nice.

[00:03:56] Stephen: Yes. There you go. I got my little cabin. People said, Hey, we could have a [00:04:00] writer’s retreat. I’m like, yeah, like three people could fit in it. It’s really a small cap, but we need to do both sides of this country.

[00:04:08] Jimmy: Absolutely. Yeah. Not enough things happen on the west coast. That’s very

[00:04:11] Stephen: true. Very true. Why did you want to start writing?

[00:04:19] Jimmy: I make a really long story short. I think that I first, when I was about 12 years old, I started my first novel. I remember it was like a yellow notebook, a notebook paper, and I was using a pen with purple ink that was devoted to this one novel and I got it back. 30 pages in, it was basically Jean-Claude van Damme, cyborg.

[00:04:46] Jimmy: That was basically the story. But with my own spin and I got about 30 pages in and I realized, I didn’t know how to proceed, so I ended up dropping it, but it’s interesting because [00:05:00] for the next, maybe two or three years, I felt bad for stopping it. Lingering in the back of my mind a lot, when I was about 14, I’d been playing guitar for about a year.

[00:05:10] Jimmy: And when I was 14, I realized that I was a songwriter and that conviction started when I was about 14. And I knew that I was suited for it. I enjoyed it. I can spend all my time doing it and really for the next seven years, that was my primary focus in life. Really. Songwriting and learning how to be a better songwriter and performer.

[00:05:36] Jimmy: And I was in bands. He played shows in Portland and I wasn’t, it’s interesting because in people’s teenage years now they have identity crises and try to figure out what they want to do as they’re 18, 19. I had none of that. I knew from the age I was 14 that I was a songwriter period. And, but when I was about 21 [00:06:00] years old, I started losing my hair.

[00:06:04] Jimmy: And it wasn’t nerve damage because it was intermittent. It was as if the middle ear was clogging up, but to make it so I couldn’t make out tones. And I went to doctors and nobody knew exactly what it was, but for about the next year as this was happening, it was getting progressively worse. It was.

[00:06:26] Jimmy: Pretty serious identity crisis for me in terms of how I was going to interact with the external world, which until then was through songwriting. That’s what I, that’s how I saw myself. And so I realized that I wasn’t really going to be able to do this anymore. I’d also been studying north Indian classical music, also up to this point for the couple of years before that sitar and raga singing.

[00:06:49] Jimmy: And I wasn’t able to hear the tones anymore. And so this was the first huge crisis when it came to identity in that sense for me. So at one point [00:07:00] I thought, okay, what’s, what, why did I want to write songs? What were the impulses behind my songwriting? What was I trying to do? And I pondered this for a while and I eventually realized that at the very, the most irreducible impulse at the foundation of my desire to write songs, Was a desire to reflect my experience of being human, to reflect my experience of the world, to the world.

[00:07:31] Jimmy: And that was just this irreducible impulse. And so then I started thinking, is there another way that I could do that? And I was thinking of different art mediums and by the way, that irreducible impulse to reflect my experience of the world. Isn’t inherently musical. So I thought that maybe I could pick up some other media.

[00:07:53] Jimmy: And at that point I started thinking about the kind of magic I experienced reading Anne rice as [00:08:00] novels. And I realized that it seemed to me that she had reflected her experience of the universe in this kind of ineffable way. That, that I thought that I had always wanted to do through songwriting. And so I thought maybe through novels, I could do that.

[00:08:18] Jimmy: Like she has. And so I started trying to write a novel. This was like 2001, 2002. And. Started trying. I got about maybe 40 pages in this tile, not using a purple pen, but still got about 40 pages. And again, I reached that same point when I was about 12 years old. Like it just, I didn’t know how to proceed.

[00:08:43] Jimmy: And about that same time, my hearing came. And so I just dove right back into music. Never really understood why he might years to be getting plugged up, but whatever my hearing was back, and that was good enough for me. So then I spent about the next [00:09:00] five years, just obsessively writing songs and playing in bands and.

[00:09:06] Jimmy: And then in about 2000 semi abandoned, I reached this point where it was like a good stopping point. We had played a lot of places or there’s a decision as to whether or not to just continue what we were doing or start touring. And we were all just in a place where we had, we’ve got complish our goals.

[00:09:23] Jimmy: And so we just decided to stop the band and it felt like a good decision. But after that, I had to decide what to do next and. I started thinking about 2012, the Mayan calendar, because now people are starting to talk about that around 2007, about five years before that. And I thought, what if I wrote a novel that was about 2012 Mayan calendar ending, and I have about five years to get it published plenty of time.

[00:09:51] Jimmy: And so I started writing, started outlining this novel, but something interesting happened, which in the process of trying to think of this story just [00:10:00] exploded in my mind. And, just all the dynamics, the characters just really unfolded in my mind. And it was a similar kind of creative, like ecstasy almost as I would get with songwriting sometimes.

[00:10:14] Jimmy: And know this, let me, I thought that I was on a good path that was indication that maybe I should do this. That was about 2007, 2008, and I got about 150 to 200 pages. And over the next few years, Before, I think as soon as January, 2012, I had a couple hundred pages and I realized I was only a quarter of the way through the story.

[00:10:39] Jimmy: And it’s that same exact feeling as when I was 12. So when I was 21, I didn’t know how to proceed past this point. I didn’t understand why. And it was then right around, maybe in the middle of 2012 that I discovered Larry Brooks’s book, a story engineering. [00:11:00] And that completely changed my world when it came to writing novels, because I could see exactly what I’d been doing wrong since the age of 12.

[00:11:09] Jimmy: Really what elements a novel needed, generally speaking. How it could be thought of in four X or three X or whatever. And so the need for an antagonist of a certain kind of power to match the protect, all of it came together. And I was like, this is why I haven’t been able to do it. So I finally felt like I had like real tools, but I had about six months left to write my 2012 book about the end of the Mayan calendar.

[00:11:38] Jimmy: And I knew that wasn’t going to happen. And so I just killed that. So for the next year, after that, I practiced, I did short stories. About 2013. I came up with another story that I really fell in love with and spent the next few years, maybe two years, two or three years, writing that before I finished the rough draft.

[00:11:57] Jimmy: But at that point I was about 2016. [00:12:00] We bought land here. I started building this house. I didn’t write at all, but in 2020 19 at the beginning, like January, I joined J Thor’s mastermind. And that was again, another like real game changer for me. So over the course of that year, 2019 being part of his group, I published two short stories.

[00:12:22] Jimmy: And then by the end of the year, I published that novel that I had started a few years back. So that’s a little. That’s basically my incense then since 2019, I’ve published a couple more short stories and then a nonfiction, but with

[00:12:34] Stephen: Jason. Okay. So that’s a whole lot listening to your story that probably would have learned some people like I can’t do this.

[00:12:42] Stephen: I’m losing my hearing. I can’t write. I thought you didn’t. So that’s, there’s a lesson right there at 12. You ran into the problem. A lot of writers run into. I don’t know what to do next. Where do I go? How did this story proceed in a lot of writers have that problem, even after they’ve written a book or two and you kept [00:13:00] going.

[00:13:00] Stephen: I think that’s an important thing for people listening to understand. Cause I think a lot of people have hit that same problem. I don’t know what to do next.

[00:13:10] Jimmy: Yeah. It feels like an intractable problem. It feels like a mystery, but there actually are mechanics that can be learned about the craft that can help you through that.

[00:13:24] Stephen: A lot of people say, oh, you had writer’s block. And I think I’ve been hearing more and more people say that’s a fallacy. People make that up to make themselves feel better, but you’ve got to figure out what’s wrong and fix it. So the fact that you have, you read the book on the mechanics and now you’re in the mastermind group and have been finding the tools you need to move on.

[00:13:44] Stephen: That’s I think that’s a great lesson for everybody. Losing your hearing when you’re a songwriter and a musician? I can’t imagine I’m losing a little bit here, my hearing now because of my age and too much rock and roll when I was younger. But right at the age of 20, when you’re [00:14:00] looking to be a musician and you’re hearing, how did you get through that seriously?

[00:14:05] Stephen: That probably would have had some people on the brink.

[00:14:10] Jimmy: I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it was devastating. I had been for the couple of years before that, and when I was about 19, I started what was for me, a pretty like serious and focused a spiritual practice. And so it was interesting because when I was 21 in this hearing problems started to happen.

[00:14:30] Jimmy: This whole identity. I actually did have some tools to use it as a lesson that I am not my writing. I am not my songwriting, rather. I am not my hearing, but there are, it was a devastating and painful thing to have happen, but people go through a lot worse and I can still use my legs. Some people can’t do that.

[00:14:52] Jimmy: And what do they go through? But they are. Their legs and they learn that. And so it was, I wasn’t, as, it wasn’t as serious as that, [00:15:00] but I think it was a really good early lesson has to what I am and what I identify with.

[00:15:07] Stephen: Okay. So you’ve been doing writing through the mastermind groups, some short stories, other stuff.

[00:15:12] Stephen: Tell us a little bit about what you are working on. What book, what do we have to look forward to from you in the.

[00:15:19] Jimmy: Yeah right now, I’m I have my novel out there. And also I really like the non-fiction book that I did with J thorn as part of his nine things, career authors don’t do series and this one is on self-actualization.

[00:15:38] Jimmy: And so these are the two works that I’m somewhat proud of Alex. Right now I am struggling to finish this big non-fiction work about Chinese medicine in how the energetic functions that are used in Chinese medicine relate to group dynamics, [00:16:00] which so I serve an idea that is not popular. It’s a new idea.

[00:16:04] Jimmy: And so I’ve been working on that for a long time. And I’m hoping to have that published in the coming months. We’ll try to get it done this year. I’m not sure if it’s going to happen right on the heels of that. I have a few novels outlined there, thriller novels and the vein of Jack Reacher, but there’s a supernatural element.

[00:16:23] Jimmy: So yeah, those are the books that I’m working on right now.

[00:16:28] Stephen: Okay. And you’re working on multiple projects, multiple things you’re doing, and it doesn’t sound like you’re like, okay, I’ve got one series and that’s all I’m going to work on. I’ve got to get 10 books out. And you’ve got a little bit here, a little bit there, which is a slightly different approach than a lot of authors, but it seems to work for you.

[00:16:45] Stephen: You

[00:16:46] Jimmy: agree? I think that if you needed to make a full-time income from writing, then you probably, couldn’t do what I’m doing, which is. Leisurely writing books, I’m [00:17:00] going where the spirit moves me. I make a full-time living from building houses and I have to steal time away from the day to have time to write.

[00:17:11] Jimmy: And so it makes it more difficult in that sense, but it’s also a luxury and that I don’t have to make money from writing right now. I know that I’m not going to want to be building houses into my sixties. And so hopefully by then, I’ll be really good at writing and be able to make a little bit of money from

[00:17:26] Stephen: it.

[00:17:26] Stephen: Yeah, that’d be great. And I think it’s interesting too, that. Our writing some non-fiction books, again, not one topic. You’ve done some books to help with writers. You’ve done books with your self-help medicinal health type things. And then we’ve talked before in the Hasum group, you should do a woodworking book or book on building and stuff like that since that’s very knowledgeable for you.

[00:17:50] Stephen: So all over. That’s also the great thing about writing is there’s not one thing to write. There’s so many things I’ve got [00:18:00] probably three, four different things myself. And I think that’s great. Someone like you showing yes. You can write other

[00:18:07] Jimmy: things. Yeah. Life is short and you got to do the things that you feel called to do.

[00:18:13] Jimmy: If you have the luxury to do that.

[00:18:17] Stephen: Now you’re the book you did with Jay, the writers series, the nine things. What type of feedback have you been doing?

[00:18:24] Jimmy: Surprisingly good. It doesn’t have a ton of reviews on Amazon, but I know a lot of people who have read it. And that was a strange project because he asked me if I would write a book in the series, perhaps having to do with Eastern philosophy.

[00:18:40] Jimmy: And when I thought about that for a while, and I thought. Pretty specific. I don’t know if a lot of authors are going to resonate with that. And so we instead came to the idea of, self-actualization just in a kind of generic sense and I still felt uncomfortable because I’m, what the hell do I know? What do I [00:19:00] have to teach about this?

[00:19:01] Jimmy: And so I decided to just stick to what I know to be true. And then I verify for myself and then there about nine. Essays in that book and each one kind of uses a metaphor and images to try to convey something that, that I know to be true for myself. And yeah, there’s been really good feedback from the few people I know who have read a.

[00:19:31] Stephen: Okay. And what about your, on the fiction? That you’ve got, you said you have a. Done a fiction. Yeah.

[00:19:39] Jimmy: Yeah. The novel has had also surprisingly good feedback. That’s called the derelict divine and my author name is James R SCN, as opposed to Jimmy SCN, which I do for non-fiction and yeah, that’s has a few reviews on Amazon [00:20:00] and I’ve gotten some good feedback.

[00:20:01] Jimmy: I learned a lot writing that book, and so I’m really excited to. To write another novel where I can, hopefully it doesn’t take me years to write. I don’t think that well

[00:20:13] Stephen: saying that again right there pointing out. You’re not stopping with one book. I think you’ve probably run into this too. A lot of authors have it in their head.

[00:20:20] Stephen: Oh, I wrote my book. I’m on easy street. I know how to write. I wrote a book it’s going to be popular and we’d be fine. But you get better with each book. Obviously this book is, was finished. So it was better than that book. You started with 30 pages that you’re 10 years old.

[00:20:38] Jimmy: Yeah, absolutely. And there’s probably something to be said for rewriting books also because I rewrote this particular novel over the course of a few years, maybe four times, like four or five times.

[00:20:50] Jimmy: And I felt like I was learning with each of those.

[00:20:53] Stephen: Yeah, I agree. I’ve done that too. I found that editing, at least at this stage, for me [00:21:00] editing teaches me a lot more because I can find the things that need to get better and then I get better for it with every rewrite to a point. So your fiction book, would you rather have it be a movie or a TV?

[00:21:15] Jimmy: I suppose TV show. I don’t watch many movies or TV shows anymore. I just got out of a. Of making time to do that. And I feel every day just full of projects. And by the time like 8:00 PM rolls around, I’m exhausted, but I have a huge list of movies and TV shows that I’ve just missed over the last five or six years.

[00:21:39] Jimmy: But it seems like you can do pretty amazing character development and story of Alicia and with TV these days,

[00:21:48] Stephen: I agree. I think my son keeps predicting that movie industry is going to decline again. And because of all the great TV shows that streaming services are offered [00:22:00] offering. So we’ll see what happens.

[00:22:01] Stephen: Jimmy, what are some of your favorite books and authors that you like to read?

[00:22:06] Jimmy: Oh, yikes. I guess I would go with the two most influential on my fiction. R and rice, which I mentioned previously, and second would be a rookie mirror. Cami. It was really in 2007 when I’d given it, a real shot trying to write a novel, maybe like 2008 or so I read Haruki.

[00:22:31] Jimmy: Murakami is a hard-boiled Wonderland and the end of the world. That’s the name of the novel. And again, I was just blown away by what can be conveyed through that medium. And it really inspired me to learn how to do something similar. So those two Anne rice and Haruki Murakami, but I listened to audio books every day.

[00:22:56] Jimmy: I just have hundreds upon hundreds of [00:23:00] audio books in my library on audible. And so I have a lot of favorites. Jack Reacher, of course is great. And I’ve been making a study of his books. I’ve read most of those more than once for my own thrillers coming up. And so I really like those, but there are very many, actually one that I just re-read that I think everybody should check out is not very well-known Peter Watts, I believe is the author and that’s Saifai Hart.

[00:23:26] Jimmy: Saifai it’s called blind sight. I actually re-read it recently because they’re going to turn it into a movie. That’s worth, it’s worth reading that book before the movie comes out or maybe it’s a TV show. I don’t know.

[00:23:40] Stephen: Okay. All right. I’ll make sure I put some links to those in the show notes. And do you have any local bookstores that you like to go to in your area?

[00:23:49] Jimmy: Short answer? No, but I grew up near pals books and Portland. We would in high school, you’d skip school and go hang out at pals, which is. [00:24:00] But yeah, pals books was a fixture for me growing up and I love borders. I was so sad when borders closed in 2008 or 2009, whenever that was, and I don’t really do the bookstore thing anymore.

[00:24:12] Jimmy: It’s okay.

[00:24:13] Stephen: All right. So before we wrap up our discussion about your book in that and move on to some author type things, tell everybody listening. Nonfiction book with Jay and then your fiction book, your thriller. Why did people should look into getting each one of them? The

[00:24:31] Jimmy: nonfiction nine things career authors don’t do all in self-actualization it’s really, it was really for it’s really for authors, that entire series authors who are stuck or who need to learn about specific aspects of independent publishers.

[00:24:48] Jimmy: And he covers a really wide array of topics with that series. Mine addresses a more internal resistance and all of the typical forms of [00:25:00] resistance, most authors experience, and maybe a way to reframe things so that you can move if you’re interested. And that’s basically what it is. Novel the derelict divine.

[00:25:11] Jimmy: I would say I was aiming for it being a cross between her rookie, Mira, Cami and Anne rice. And I fell short, I think, but if you liked either of them, you might like it. And I would say there’s a philosophical bent to it, but it is a, it’s not a thriller per se. It’s really more of a, maybe like a psychological thriller slash paranormal suspense.

[00:25:38] Stephen: Okay, great, Jimmy, I appreciate you telling us about your books, talking with us about those today. Thank you.

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