Jason M.A. Walter (JMAW) is a Poet/Author who strives to live fully! He is the Author of Adventures in Urban Mysticism (AUM) Vol. 1: Rebirth, The Maxims of Delta, The Dream Pusher, One Mix-Plate for Lunch & Left-Overs for Dinner – Words to Feed the Soul, which you can find online at Amazon. Jason’s most recent title, The Orange Book – Vitamin C for the Soul, was written under the pen name, Sonjay Retlaw. His sixth book, The Dark Meeting – Black Coffee for the Soul is coming soon.

Check out JMAW online at http://www.TheSimpleVoice.com, follow The Simple Voice on Facebook, @menamejmaw on Twitter & Instagram.
1) When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most?

LOL! I still fight the calling to be a writer, but, it’s just something that I’ve always done and come back to. From childhood until now, I’m 37 (which I can’t believe) I have to write.  Whether it’s decompressing in my journal, or I feel inspired to write a poem, challenged by Life to write commentary, or just have an idea for something creative to put together, when I feel it, I know I have to do it.   The thing I love most about writing changes.  Before I published my first book, it was the challenge of figuring out what I wanted to say.  Then when I finally did that, it was the realization that I’d gotten out of my own way creatively.  Finally.  At this stage, it’s the feeling of the ride that unfolds while creating a project.  I don’t write to be rich. I write because I have to and allowing myself to actualize as a Writer, an Author, a Creative, an Artist, has taught me so much and opened so many doors I’d never have dreamed existed.  

2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?  What projects are you currently working on?

The book that I’m stoked to share a little bit about with is called Season 2 – J. Wading Through the Stream (of Consciousness). It’s the sequel to J. Wading Through the Stream (of Consciousness).  All my books are spiritually inspired.  IMO, the spiritual foundation, however that works for anyone, is the key to ‘wading through the stream’ each day.  For me, my first book, Adventures in Urban Mysticism (AUM) Vol. 1 Rebirth, was my throwing down the gauntlet and telling the Universe, yeah, that’s wassup, and I’ve not turned from building my Life, upon a spiritual rock, while also sharing the very really challenges I face and feel as a Human + Being, grappling with all the happenings in the world right now.  Season 2 picks up off the AUM Vol. 1, well the first J. Wading felt more akin to the vibe but Season 2 was written from a better place, a place where I was really opening up to the fact that all of it, Light, Dark, the grey in between, paint the whole picture, and that’s pretty cool.  

Season 2 is only available on the ITunes via iBooks right now but I’m exploring the possibility of rolling a more expanded version into print this year.  My other books are available via Amazon,at Barnes and Nobles (online and you can request it in-store), and miscellaneous used books in Honolulu, Seattle, Tokyo, and Seoul.

I’m currently working on more visual art projects.  Eventually, I want to marry the mediums, take my poetry and connect it to a painting, or a photo book, perhaps.  I’m also writing a short screenplay and looking to get it shot this year.

3) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?

Embracing failure.  Repeatedly.  Now what is failure really?  But for real, I’d say my most significant accomplishment is rejection because it’s taught me to let go, to stop judging myself, my work, and just keep moving forward.  I think if I’d not encountered adversity in Life or as a Creative, I’ve not have grown as much as I have.  Not giving up has allowed me to develop in so many ways and whether I sell a million copies, or not, I just want to feel joy and fulfillment.  The rejections have made me less attached, and more creative.  And nothing feels better than creating.  Whether it’s setting out a new writing adventure, painting another abstract oceanscape (I’m born and raised in Hawaii so super inspired by the ocean), or dropping a roll of film, it’s beautiful to create.

4) Do you have a schedule for when you write?  Do you outline your novels?  How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?

I have tried scheduling writing and it doesn’t work for me.  Over the years, I’ve learned how to feel the flow and learn when to go with it.  Sometimes, I’ll keep saying the same thing in different ways and that’s when I know it’s time to move on.  But other than that, it’s very natural for me.  When it’s time to do it, I do it.  And when it’s not time to write, I paint.  And when it’s not time to paint, I take pictures.  Know what I mean?   I’ve also never really outlined projects.  When I outline, I tend not to finish.  Believe me, there’s projects I haven’t outlined and completed as well, but for me, when it comes to creativity, the more I sketch things out, the less likely I am to flow well with it.  Length of time in finishing a project depends on how much there is for me to share.  And that really is more of an intuitive thing for me.  I have at times been inspired to write for hours a day, a few weeks straight.  And I’ve also experienced it where it’s a plodding, year or longer process, before it all makes sense.  

5) Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?

I work full-time in the Arts now as a Marketing Director, which is perfect for a Writer and Creative because being in this capacity over the past five years has really been like fertilizer for all these dormant seeds of creativity.  The Arts have always been a transformational experience for me. With Writing being my first Art, it helped me to process my experience of the other Arts.  So five years from now, I’d like to see all of it (my whole Journey) come together and manifest in full-time, fulfilling work as an Artist.  

6) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry?  Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?

Nah, there’s too many stories out there of people getting their start unconventionally.  The beauty of starting later in Life is that you know more in general, but really, the older you are, the more you know about who you are.  I think who we really are is touched through Artistic expression, so much of my earlier work is masked by chaos of my youth.  I’m not that old, but I’m not that young either, so sitting in this space, I can see where my youth led me astray and appreciate what maturity, as it slowly percolates, gives me.  My writing today is so much better than it was ten years ago but I know I’ll say the same thing ten years from now.  So long story short, it’s not worth worrying.  When it’s time, it’s time.  Just write.

7) What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you?  What’s the first book you read that made you know that you could do this for a career?  What book are you currently reading?

Gosh. Those first two questions are tough and I’m drawing blanks so I’m gonna go with The Alchemist, because it came into my Life at a very unique turning point and it’s one of those first books where so much of it spoke to the entirety of my Being.  And in terms of doing this as a career, ha, I’m still hustling to make this a career.  But if there’s one book where I thought, okay, I can and should do this, it’s The Way of the Peaceful Warrior.  There were so many moments in there that resonated, either in that I related or a very similar, uncanny experience happened, that I just knew I had to share what I was encountering.   Right now I’m reading When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron and getting ready to read 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.  I absolutely love Murakami’s work and that’s been on my to read list for a minute now!

8) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work? Do you ever just sit down and curl up with your own book?

It’s definitely love-hate.  There’s some pieces where I’m like: Wow, I wrote that?!  And there’s others where you should insert the SMH emoji here and I can see so much ego and where I was at, in all my clouded glory, there, etched for eternity.  But it’s cool because it makes me appreciate how far I’ve traveled.

9) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry is drastically changing?  Are you more of an e-book person or a traditional book person?

I’m a traditional, print person.  And that’s funny, right, cause Season 2 is only available in e-format, but I enjoyed Apple’s iBooks Author so I rolled with it.  I love print because, it’s like getting lost in another world.  One could argue that e-formats give us the opportunity to get lost in many worlds, all at once, but I like getting lost one world at a time.  LMAO, although I read about four or things at once so maybe it’s more appropriate to say one world, in different genres, at a time.  

10) I feel like so many of us writers, us artists in general, are made to conform to other people’s idea of what we should be.  I think we creative types should be unafraid to be whoever it is that we feel we have the right to be.  So what is your write 2 be?  What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity?

It’s really fascinating to think about this at this point in my Life. The last year was all about my embracing the fact that I am a Creative and seeing that every step along the way was necessary for that. So if there’s anything that represents my authenticity it’s probably my curiosity, openness to what Life gifts, and my ability to keep on, keepin’ on. Many times I’ve felt jaded, defeated, and disillusioned.  And that comes in waves.  I’ll know I’ll feel that way again, probably even lower because some very special people in my Life still walk the Earth and losing them someday will suck.  But you gotta embrace the suck in order to share the stoke, you know? Somehow, some why, I’ve never lost all hope and have maintained a curiosity to search for and find a silver lining.  Even if it’s just me finding meaning and being okay with what’s happened that I don’t really like.  I was talking with my therapist recently and he had mentioned how we change over the years, fast forward decades and who someone was at say 20, cannot be viewed the same at 50.  We live in such fast cycle these days; Life is always shifting.  Some days for me have felt like weeks worth of events have happened.  Other days, are just days.  Point being, in all my work, I strive to let the open eyes I’m cultivating, which are still opening further and fuller, extend into the final products I create.  If you read my first book up to my most recent works, I think you’ll find there’s a repetition, new and recollected a-has, along with a sense that “we’ll see” is exciting because the new reveals of each turning page of life is just that amazing! So keep on reading. Even when it’s hard. Even when one feels over it. Even when we want to give up.   Sometimes all it takes is to turn just one more page, and boom, you’re in a brand new adventure, because of a plot twist you’ve long been waiting for.

11) What other Arts inspire you?

To say all of them would be a cop out but I really do find value in consuming all sorts of Arts.  I really enjoy wandering through Museums, checking out architecture in other cities, and I completely love music. I listen to a lot of classics for my generation (90’s, early 00 Hip-Hop).  In recent years, I’ve started really vibing on Jazz, Indie, and I really love Reggae. Musicians, especially those who write lyrics, really inspire me with their storytelling and I think that’s one of the reasons I love Hip-Hop so much.  Most recently, I’ve created some paintings to Ghostface and Raekwon, Travis Scott, Gucci Mane, and Bob Marley.  It’s funny though because I need a certain type of music and vibe to create.  If I’m cruising, it’s different, and I think that’s because I tend to process more of what’s being said when I’m not simultaneously creating. 

12) You mentioned that Art is transformative.  Can you expand a little on that?

I believe that Art is a transformative experience because the Arts have helped me navigate through the peaks and valleys of my own Life.  As a shy child, the characters in books kept me company.  They made me think.  Their experiences taught me to observe and both the fantastical and mundane of their stories probably planted a great deal of the seeds of my creativity today.  The same thing as a teen, when music became my safe space.  I didn’t really understand many of the changes in my body and the feelings that were going on.  What teenager does?  Though don’t we know it all then!  I had a hard time making sense but the music spoke because of how it felt.  In my twenties, I started to consume a wider variety of the arts, and the same as I have traveled through my thirties.  Art has grown me.  Art has helped me to peace at peace with myself, the beautiful mess that I am, and to embrace change.  Art has shown me that people before me have experienced the complexity of humanity and it reminds me that we live on through the creation of it.