We had the good fortune of connecting with JT Morse and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi JT, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I’ve always run my own businesses, even if they were entrepreneurial side-hustles while working for someone else. When serving as the aquatics director for a YMCA, in my twenties, I also taught in-home swim lessons and water aerobics classes on the side. In the early days of my acting career–like most theater performers–by day, I ran a successful pet sitting service called “The Irish Sitter” then, at night, attended rehearsals and performed in live shows as a whole host of characters. It’s only been in the past five years that I’ve been able to let go of an anchor job and apply my full focus to my freelance writing/editing business. For this, I am incredibly grateful to my supportive family, incredible editing clients, publishing outfits that actually pay for poetry and short stories, and magazines that continue to ask me to write articles for them.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve always been a storyteller. As a child, my storytelling happened predominantly in the musical realm–playing violin, singing, and dancing. As a teen, I discovered photography and modeling–ways of telling stories without words or sound, via static images and visual cues alone. As a young woman, I fell in love with the theater and telling stories on the stage; that love affair lasted twenty years. And now, in my middle-aged years, I’ve found my voice as a writer. Quite literally, an on-the-nose storyteller. My greatest asset as a writer is the experiences I’ve garnered while mingling with these other avenues of storytelling. My musicality and love of rhythm come into play when penning poetry. Being able to immerse myself, visually, in a fictional scene or setting helps with translating the images into words. Having learned to solidly inhabit a character on the stage has made creating characters that come alive on the page so much easier; I already have the empathetic skills to whole-heartedly put myself in their shoes and tell their stories. One of the most frequently asked questions I hear from newbie writers is: How do you cope with the rejections? For me, it’s a matter of perspective. After having been told to my face, centerstage, in an auditorium full of fellow actors that I’m not the right fit, dismissed, and unwanted, seeing words of rejection in black and white, alone, in a usually generic form-letter email seems like nothing. The public embarrassment is minimal and the self-shaming almost non-existent. So, my advice to those new writers is: If the pain of rejection is too tough for you right now, go tackle something harder then come back to writing. Then the rejections won’t sting quite as badly.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Being a nature-lover, I’d plan for us to go camping in one of the Houston-area national parks for a few days. One of my favorites is the Double Lake Recreation Area in Sam Houston National Park. We’d rent a cabin or pitch a tent and hang out in hammocks reading by day and telling stories around the campfire at night. On a day when the weather might not be as outdoor accommodating, we’d visit the Cockrell Butterfly Center down in the city and grab lunch at the Hobbit Café–a must-go-to for any and all fiction writers and fans of Tolkien. If the weather were good and we had time, we’d also take a kayak or canoe trip down Buffalo Bayou and pop by the Mercer Arboretum for some exercise and enjoyment of being surrounded by nature. This would be an ideal week for me to share with friends and family in Houston.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
So many people, organizations, and platforms deserve credit for the success of JT Morse, Writer/Editor/Photographer! One of the biggest, though, is Writespace, a Houston-based literary organization that welcomed me into the writing community with open arms when I first launched into freelance writing. They helped me find my voice as a writer and provided me with low-cost opportunities to initially attend educational workshops then, when I was ready, gave me a place to teach them as well. In addition, over the years, the Writespace crew have introduced me to repeat clients like ArtHouston magazine, artist Gabriela Monterroso, Spider Road Press, and Interstellar Flight Press. I dedicate this shoutout to the Writespace volunteers and staff. Thank you!
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/ — JT “Jody” Morse
JT Morse, Photographer