I am very pleased to welcome Juliet Batten to Writers Share
1. How did you start writing, is it something that you’ve always done?
I loved writing as a child, and wrote poetry as a young adult. Then I became an exhibiting artist for two decades. In my forties I went back to writing and published my first book.
2. What is your book called?
‘Spirited Ageing: cultivating the art of renewal.’ Dr. Stephanie Dowrick has endorsed it, saying: ‘What a hopeful and inspiring book. It offers practical guidance for an increasingly rich and satisfying life as we age. Juliet is wise about what matters most.’’
It’s a spiritual perspective on ageing, one that shows people how to connect with their passion, creativity and spirituality in order to meet the challenges of growing old. It’s aimed at anyone over fifty who wants to start preparing for a satisfying old age, and especially for people in their sixties to nineties. A ninety-two year old woman has just read it from cover to cover and said she was ‘tickled pink’ by what she learned from it.
4. What made you decide to write this book?
As I moved into my late sixties, I realised there were very few books that actually teach us how to deal with the ageing process. There are plenty that focus on the body, usually with the intention to make us feel younger, but so little that shows us how to move through the challenges on a spiritual level. So I decided to write the book I needed for myself.
5. What is your favourite genre?
I enjoy novels, poetry, self-help books and spiritual writings.
6. Who published your book and where can we get hold of it?
It’s been published by Ishtar Books, and can be ordered through my website: www.julietbatten.co.nz or through Amazon.
7. What is your creative process like? How do you motivate yourself?
Mornings are my best time for writing. I’m motivated by inspiration and service. My daily meditation practice inspires me and gives me the fuel and the guidance for my work.
8. What type of reading inspires you?
I am inspired by the writings of spiritual teachers: Thich Nhat Hahn, Ram Dass, Eckhart Tolle, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, Jon Kabat-Zinn, the Tao Te Ching.
9. What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
My book includes many stories from contributors who responded to my questions about various aspects of ageing. Authenticity is what comes through their stories. They illustrate how people grapple with challenges in their lives and draw on their own strengths and wisdom in order to find a way through.
10. What writers do you admire?
I admire pioneers, who push the frontiers for all of us: Barbara Marx Hubbard (a true spirited elder), Joanna Macy (another one), Andrew Harvey, and poets such as W.B. Yeats, Gerard Manly Hopkins, Hafiz, Rumi, and Mary Oliver.
11. How do you come up for your ideas for a book?
I’ve written eight books now, and in each case, it feels as if the themes chose me. Ideas are abundant, but with certain ideas I feel I’m being called into service, and these are the ones that lead to a book being written.
12. Are you good at telling stories orally?
I love oral story telling, and often tell stories to groups or when teaching workshops. I have a tradition with my family, of gathering together with another family at winter solstice and telling stories around the fire.
13. Do you think you have found “your voice” as a writer. Are there other genres you would like to try?
Yes, I feel I found my voice back in 2000 when I published ‘Growing into Wisdom: change and transformation at midlife.’ It was in that book that I discovered the ‘three layers’ approach: 1) telling my own story, 2) telling the stories of others, and 3) including information based on scholarship and research. Now I have a strong urge to go back to an earlier love: writing poetry.
14. What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding your writing schedules?
I keep the mornings for creative work, two to three days a week. Sometimes I take time out at my ‘bach’ (beach cottage) and write freely through the weekends.
15. What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help you concentrate?
I have an altar close by, with images of my spiritual teachers and symbols that inspire the current work. I always invoke grace before beginning to write.
16. What is your process? Do you write on a computer or long hand?
I write long hand when there is something I need to draw out of the depths, or when I’m writing something personal or want to evoke something very vividly. I also write directly on to the computer.
17. What has been your experience with publishers?
I was fortunate to find a wonderful publisher called Tandem Press for my first book. I published three books with Tandem, and they had accepted a fourth just before selling out to Random House. Random published this and one other book, and were also good to work with. Then publishing changed dramatically, and like many writers I could no longer get published. At this point I self published, and was lucky to have success with this because I was already an established writer.
18. What are you working on now?
I’m taking a good rest, and making sure that Spirited Ageing reaches everyone who needs it.
19. What do you recommend for new writers who would love to get started but don’t have the confidence?
Join a writing group where you can be with people you trust to give fair feedback. Do a writing course; they often provide a lot of practical support.
Before I go…..Writing is a great joy. Many of my earlier books were based in New Zealand, but Spirited Ageing will reach people all over the world because the theme is universal. It’s great to have this forum to speak about the book overseas. Thank you Amanda, for your inspiring blog about caring for your mother with Alzheimer’s, and giving me permission to quote from it in Spirited Ageing.
I would like to thank Juliet for sharing and wish her every success! Please take a look at the links below to find out more about Juliet and to purchase a copy of the book!