Get to Know James Cook, Empathic Mastermind and RTC Book Editor
How do you get into “the zone” when it comes to diving into your editing work?
I need three things before starting the editing process: a cup of good, dark roast coffee, a comfy chair (usually my Sealy office chair), and as much silence as I can find. Sometimes this means donning headphones and listening to white noise. Then, I set a timer for at least 50 minutes. That timer tells my brain it is go time. I might feel resistance over the first few minutes, especially if it is beautiful and sunny outside my window, but the flow kicks in. Before I know it, the timer is going off, and I take my stretch/walk break.
What is your Meyers-Briggs Personality type?
My personality is INFJ, which stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging. However, I’ve since come to approach personality tests with a healthy dose of skepticism. They are barely scientific and offer a mere glimpse into a particular moment in someone’s life.
It is like if somebody visited Boston during a Nor’easter in middle of February and described it as always being a cold, miserable, snowy city. They are right. It is, at times. Some days it is a beautiful city to walk all the way from the Back Bay to the New England Aquarium. You can get a tan while you enjoy your lunch at the park near the wharf.
Our personalities can have just as much range as the weather.
What is the last book you read that was so good you didn’t want to put it down?
Easily Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. Besides a wonderful plot, what makes the book exceptional is Leigh’s spectacular character development. These felt like real people, and I loved how they interacted with each other while watching Alina Starkov, the protagonist, grow into her true self.
What is a piece of advice you would give new writers?
Start. After that? Don’t stop.
We writers are our own worst enemies. I deal with impostor syndrome, as do many writers. As much as I love writing, I avoided it as a career for decades. My reasoning was there was no way I could write as well as Poe, Hemingway, or Tolkien. I had a fixed mindset. You either had it—whatever “it” is—or you didn’t.
But writing is a skill that can be taught, learned, practiced, and developed. I learned to grow with writing, because it turns out my favorite contemporary authors are also comparing themselves to Poe, Hemingway, and Tolkien. Regardless of what your teacher or mom or favorite author told you, just start writing, get good feedback, try again, and never ever stop.