Let’s begin by understanding one thing – I wasn’t always a writer. After all, once I accomplished the required rudiments of beginning to become a human being – i.e. sitting up, eating human food, beginning to learn language, walking and all – I was just a little girl, growing up.
Somewhere along the way, however, I learned that words have meaning – often, deep meanings. That speaking the right word can either encourage or profoundly discourage myself and others; and, unfortunately, that words can be used as weapons.
Some time later I, also, learned to write words. Sometimes they were “funny words”, like “sword” (that I learned how to spell by emphasizing the “sw” sound and, then, adding the remaining “…ord”). I have a long and growing list of “funny words”. Another one might be “ghabberflasted” (intentionally flipped ’round for memorability, emphasis, and humor).
Eventually, I began to, somewhat, “eat” words – rolling them over in my mouth for pronunciation, “digesting” the deeper meanings, learning the human history of words. I think, at that point, I was hooked; but, didn’t consciously realize it yet. I was on the path to becoming a writer; whether a public writer or a private writer didn’t matter.
Subsequently, the unconscious became conscious as I wrote more. I thought, as a returned undergraduate, I would major in English and, then, earn a J.D. in law to, eventually, specialize in international law, with sitting on the World Court as my goal.
Halfway through my undergraduate degree (I went back as a sophomore), what can only be called a phenomenological occurrence happened. My World Court goal took a one-week hiatus. I talked with two writers and two lawyers that I knew and respected. At the end of one week, I decided to go into writing not law; and, didn’t know it was poetry until I wrote more.
The rest of this story is my continuing history as a writer – earning my graduate degree, a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island) with the concentration in poetry. Sending out submissions, receiving acceptances, being published in various literary journals; and, eventually, teaching at the college level for eight (8) years. From time to time I continue to be invited to be a Guest Lecturer and Visiting Artist. These days I’m, also, invited to be a presenter based on my adventures as a woman-owned entrepreneur.
When my teaching gigs ended, I began to develop my skills, expertise, and acumen as a commercial, independent, strategic freelance writer and editor. I had come to understand that the world wide web, hence the internet, is founded on and completely driven by words. That was in May, 1996. I became a bootstrapped, solopreneur founding Jessan Dunn Otis|Writer.
At this time, poetry continues to be the foundation and inspriation I have as a writer. Thankfully, poetry continues to flow. Clients continue to reach out to me when they feel that my experience, expertise, and skills best match their well-funded projects.
Finally, the following quote by Mark Twain are the words upon which my logo was created:
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”
…and, that answers the question (more or less) how and why I became a writer.
Enjoy this day you make/are given.