We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashlyn Jensen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashlyn, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Finding success as a writer has been an obscure and chaotic process for me. In fact, I’m positive that if you tracked any writer’s success on a graph, it would look like random groupings of lines and squiggles. There is no real rhyme or reason to it. So, I’ve learned that being successful largely relies on your magnitude of passion for the craft, and learning to love each corner of it that you explore. More to the point, find a way to fall in love with the thing that’s directly in front of you, being a writer looks different every day. This notion became especially apparent to me after I got my first job as a blog contributor. For a short time, I worked for a non-profit organization. My contribution to them was a series of informative, non-fiction articles that were published on their website at the end of each week. It’s worth noting that I am not a non-fiction blogger in my heart of hearts. I am a screenwriter to the bone. So, I didn’t always find myself buzzing with excitement when I sat down to start one of my articles. But, I was so happy to have writing work, that I rolled with it and I sought out reasons to love the process of writing a solid, educational piece. Even more, I fell in love with the topics I researched and put my all into producing excellent work for that publication. Once I latched on and found things to love about that process, the content of my articles became stronger, and I became a sharper, more versatile writer. The point is, as a writer, you will more than likely have to wear a million different hats. On Tuesday, you might make a major breakthrough on your feature-length screenplay. But, by Sunday, you might be writing an analysis on the thematic impact of feminism in classic literature. The goal is to stay passionate about honeing your craft no matter what hat you’re wearing. Once you can do that, the passion behind your work shines through, and it’s easier to find success, because everything that you’ve worked on has pushed you to pursue excellence.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My art has come along way from where it started. When I first decided that I wanted to write films, I really had no idea what kind of stuff I wanted to make. So, a lot of my very first projects were goofy, experimental predecessors to the projects I’m working on now. It’s feels miraculous to me, the way that my work has evolved in just the last year. And if I may mention, It’s been a trying year. Of course, everyone has a completely unique perception and experience with 2020. For me, it’s been a cataclysmic turning point that’s shattered my perspective and turned the world upside down. No matter how hard I try, I can’t fall back into the old patterns of complacency. This year put a fire in my belly, and that fire has started showing up in my work. I’ve watched my half-skeleton projects become imaginative and powerful in a way that they haven’t been before. I’ve let go of all the rules and restrictions I put on my writing, and now I write exactly what I want to see. So, this year has been very transformative for the style, taste, and themes I hope to explore in my stories. The continuing evolution of my art is really the thing I’m most excited about. I’m not sure if I would say much sets my art apart from anyone else’s. But, I will say that I’m quite happy with the way I’ve been exploring dark, visceral themes and using light-heartedness and humor to do so. But, I’m also proud of some of the milestones I’ve hit as professional. In the last two years, I’ve become a very skilled writing instructor and editor, I’ve written various articles for an excellent publication, and I’ve become a much better storyteller in the process. And no, nothing about reaching these small, but significant, milestones is easy. It takes a lot of caffeinated late-nights, researching, putting things on hold, and tons of constant revisions (so many revisions). But, through all of that, I consistently tell myself that I am the luckiest person on the planet because I get to write. All day long, that’s what I do and that is exactly what I used to daydream about. These experiences have taught me to be gracious, humble, and flexible in my work. They’ve also taught me to keep myself motivated and passionate about honing my craft.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, me and my best friend are both from Houston, so we’d have a pretty good idea of what we’d want to do with a whole week in the city. We tend to enjoy going out to eat and listening to live music. One of my favorite spots to do this is Axel Rad. It’s an awesome bar that has a huge outdoor patio. The seating mostly consists of hammocks, and the times I’ve gone, there’s always been excellent live music. We’d probably also hit the museum district and visit some of the art galleries/exhibits. There’s always something new and awesome going on in the Houston art scene. The other thing we might do, is go see a movie at Edwards Cinemas. It’s a wonderland for film-buffs and avid theatre enthusiasts. In my experience, they have the widest selection of films. Outside of that, we would probably go to some of the antique and thrift shops in Montrose. We would also probably be eating a lot, as one could pretty much get any type of food they might craving in Houston.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I lovingly dedicate this to my ridiculously supportive, creative, and talented friends/family who continue to inspire me to be a passionate and empathetic writer and person. I will never be as cool as them (lol).