Sunday, February 2, 2014

Interview with Joan Ellen Gage

I met Joan Gage in 2007 at Phillips and Lloyd Bookstore in Hayesville, NC. She had come for Coffee with the Poets. After the event, she and I talked awhile, and I learned she had written a book she hoped would inspire other midlife women, like her, who had met with some of the same issues she dealt with. Joan is a dental hygienist. She has heard the stories of her patients over the years. Many of them are similar to her own. 

Joan will soon be a full time resident of western North Carolina. Following is an interview that gives us more insight into her writing and her goals. 

GB: Joan, I believe it was back in 2007 at Coffee with the Poets when I first met you. You seemed a little discouraged at that point about your writing. Now I see you are blogging and have a website. You have more books out. What made you choose to go online, to build a platform for yourself?

JG:  Glenda, when I met you at Coffee with the Poets, you encouraged me to write a blog and told me about BlogSpot. I had basically marketed the first book myself. I sold them to friends and patients and had a few online sales.  I was interested in using the Internet to get ”out there” in a different way.   

With my first book, Water Running Downhill, Words of Empowerment for Women, I used an online publishing company, as I wanted to get the book into print--to get it birthed.  I had sent out query letters to many agencies with no acceptances, so self-publishing seemed the way to go. 

Yes, I have a website and a blog. The online market seems to fit me, as my product is a square peg in a round hole to the publishing world. My second book, Embracing Your Inner Cheerleader, is in the same vein as the first book, Water Running Downhill, an inspirational and humorous read for the midlife woman.

GB: Your books, your blog and your words are encouraging and uplifting. Do you ever get depressed and have to turn your cheerleading voice toward yourself?

JG: Yes, I have had problems with anxiety and depression. These have gotten worse in midlife. A lot has had to do with a geographic move from South Florida away from people that I love.  Also, the job market for this area for dental hygiene has been difficult.
Writing has been difficult, if not impossible. With some time opening up in my schedule the early part of this year, I hope to psyche myself back into writing.  I am not very good at self-cheerleading. I am much better as a cheer-leader for others.  But, this actually can boomerang positive thoughts back to me.

GB: You live in Florida, but have built a house in the western NC mountains. Do you think, one day, you might live full time in this new place? 

JG: My husband Rob and I are still in the process of preparing to move to North Carolina.  A lot has happened over the last few years with the slow economy and a downturn in people visiting the dentist.  This has impacted my work and slowed down the plan to move. Thankfully, we are making good progress, and will have a paved road in the spring that will make getting up to the new house manageable for all.  
I took my boards for NC, and should be hearing from them in the next 90 days.

GB: Where do you find your greatest inspiration for your writing?

JG: I have spent many hours listening to the stories of my beloved patients over the years.  Listening to the tales of what women have gone through, or are going through, and their courage and bravery inspired me, and jump-started the 50th-year-me into writing.

GB: Who is the most interesting person you ever met?

JG: I really can’t pin that one down to one person.  I am drawn to people who are adventurous, daring, or courageous.  I suppose that I would have to say that the most inspiring ones have been my patients and friends who are cancer survivors and who have shown such courage.

GB: Has there been one person in your life, besides family, who supported your writing and encouraged you?

JG: There were a group of them in South Florida, my tribe, actually.  I invited several friends to join me over many months when my husband was out of town on Friday nights.  I had started writing and timidly shared some of it, then more and more. These women really convinced me to listen to my muse and go ahead with my first book.  I’m not sure I could have done it without them!

GB: You say you want to inspire women who have little confidence in themselves. You try to help others overcome their low self-esteem, shyness, or lack of belief in themselves. Why is this important to you?

JG: This is important to me, as these things are the very reason I am who I am.  I have battled shyness and low self-esteem for many years and usually have them “licked.”
Once in a while I have a trial I have to handle in my life. While it is never comfortable to me, I have learned that I have to confront the problem.  Much anxiety and rumination generally precede this, but I eventually get there!
As a pretty big coward, who has made some strides in life I can be proud of, I offer words of encouragement to others who feel like I do.  My motto is if someone else was able to do this (whatever it is) then I can, too.  This got me through college, and is still moving me along today.

Here is a poem from the new book, Embracing Your Inner Cheerleader, that speaks to moving forward.

The Child Inside
by Joan Ellen Gage

When I was younger,
much younger,
I thought that someone
would take me away
from all of this.

We were spoon-fed on
Television and Tinsel town.
Stars were our role models.
Women expected a loving and faithful
Hollywood- style helpmate, forever!

I discovered, early on,
that this was not the case.
I have lived the part of a woman
in a country song, where lying, gambling,
and the “cheating heart” are the main themes!

I managed to move on
with my heart deeply wounded
only to be disappointed again.
But, I am a survivor
and fatally romantic. I do believe in love!

Never will I give up
my battle scars, my street smarts
or my self- respect.
It has been a long, hard road to womanhood.
I have persevered and won!

But, there is a tender part of me,
the child inside
who waited all her life for someone
to take care of her—another myth!
Upon awakening at last,
as from a deep slumber
I discovered the truth.
That someone I had waited for was me.

Read more at Joan's new blog:


Sam Hoffer @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Joan Ellen is very inspiring. Great interview Glenda and you've answered my questions about self-cheer leading. Her poem at the end says it all.

Anonymous said...

I love to hear about women discovering their creativity and talent at midlife. It's such a rich time. Full of ups and downs, but also a time of growing and realizing our potential. Humor and encouragement are musts for me to navigate this time! I look forward to reading Joan's blog.

Nancy Simpson said...

Thanks Glenda for the interview with Joan Ellen Gage.
She has an original style of expression that I enjoy.