Jul 20, 2019
Interviews & inspiration | Daniela Pisciottano
Today we are interviewing the freelance writer, entrepreneur, public speaker and founder of See Jane Write, Javacia Harris Bowser.
She shared with the readers of Femie Magazine the simple rules of empowerment and how you can take your future into your own hands and find the right path for you!
Why did you decide to create a community for women who write?
I would like to say that I started See Jane Write because I wanted to empower women to share their stories, and while that is why I have continued the organization for over 8 years, honestly, I started the group for selfish reasons. In 2009, I left my job as a newspaper reporter in Louisville, Kentucky and returned to my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama to teach English at a fine arts high school for gifted students. I knew that I wanted to continue to write and blog even while building a career as an educator and I knew that to do so would be hard without a group of like-minded women cheering me on.
For two years, I looked for a local group for women who write and blog, but couldn't find one. So in 2011, I started my own. Since then See Jane Write has grown into a business and has members not only in Birmingham but across the country and around the world. And while I may have started See Jane Write for selfish reasons I've continued it because I've seen how much the group means to the women who are a part of it. These women have written books, launched blogs, built businesses, and started freelance writing careers because of the support they get through the courses, coaching, and community of See Jane Write.
What did you do before launching See Jane Write and how much has your life changed since then?
I was very unhappy when I first moved back to my hometown. The career change, though one that I wanted, was tough. Because so much of my identity had been tied to being a reporter, I no longer felt sure of who I was. And even though I grew up in Birmingham most of my childhood friends have moved away, so I felt very alone. But See Jane Write gave me a sense of purpose and helped me find my people. And eventually, See Jane Write even helped me find myself.
As stated on your website, “every woman has a story worth sharing”, what is one story you would like to share with Femie Magazine?
Lately, the story I've been sharing the most is the story of how I decided to quit teaching to run See Jane Write full-time. Juggling teaching with See Jane Write and all the freelance writing and public speaking that I do was taking its toll. I have a chronic illness that’s made worse by stress and one of my doctors told me he was convinced I was trying to literally work myself to death. But I loved my teaching job and I loved See Jane Write. Choosing between the two seemed impossible. One day on Instagram I came across this quote: “You owe it to yourself to become everything you’ve ever dreamed of being.”
Like most kids, my answer to the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question constantly changed. But there were three that stuck: writer, teacher, and business owner. Through See Jane Write I get to be all I’ve ever dreamed of being all at once. Through my blogging and freelancing, I am a writer. Through my online and in-person workshops for women who write, I am a teacher. And through building my membership and coaching programs, I am an entrepreneur.
In the end, I couldn't choose between my school and See Jane Write. I had to simply choose myself. I hope I inspire other women to do the same thing in their own way.
See Jane Write is a community, a tribe. Before launching the platform had you ever felt part of a community?
I certainly have but it's almost always been a community I created myself. I suppose that's always been my thing ever since I was a kid. I have never fit in with the cool kids and I figured out early on I never would. So, instead of worrying about the in-crowd I just made a crowd of my own. And I guess you could say I'm still doing that now. I will never be as cool as your favorite Instagram influencer but through the community I've built through See Jane Write I have my own brand of influence.
Your platform is directly aimed at women; in your opinion, how differently are men and women treated in the writing industry?
I think the numbers speak for themselves. VIDA is a non-profit feminist organization that tracks the representation of women in literary media. Of the 15 publications in the latest VIDA Count, only two published 50 percent or more women writers. In fact, eight of the 15 publications failed to publish enough women writers to make up even 40 percent of their publication's run in 2017. The New York Review of Books had the greatest gender disparity with less than 24 percent of its published writers being women.
If you could travel back in time what is one thing you would do differently and why?
Nothing. Sure, there are plenty of mistakes I've made along the way and I have "What if" moments like everyone else, but by changing my past I risk changing my present and I'm pretty happy right here, right now.
What is your favourite part of being your own boss?
I love the freedom of being able to decide how I spend each day. But most of all, I love that I feel I'm existing in a world of infinite possibilities.
Lastly, is there any advice you would give to any women who are struggling to make a living out of their writing?
Get creative and think outside the box. If you're having trouble breaking into print magazines, try writing for digital publications. If you're having trouble breaking into national media, start with local outlets instead. Also, remember there are many different ways to make money with your writing skills. You can do freelance journalism or freelance content writing. You can make money from your blog with affiliate links and sponsored posts. You can write and self-publish books. You can edit other people's work. You can tutor students who need help with writing. You can coach adults who want to write. You can create courses, host workshops, or do speaking engagements about writing. Just keep writing.
You can follow Javacia at the following links:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/seejanewritebham/
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/seejanewritebham/
Published Exclusively by Femie Magazine
Pictures: Megan Tsang Hand