Jenny Smith is an amazing woman who was faithful enough after sustaining a spinal cord injury to ask, “how will God use this?” God has used Jenny in many ways. Today we chat with her about her writing journey. Enjoy getting to know her.
Our first question, what do you love most about the writing process? The least?
Jenny: I love the opportunity to really dig deep. I actually love to research. (Yep. I’m a nerd!) But I’ve come to appreciate the self-examination I derive through exploring the opinions I have on a topic. I also enjoy sharing my life experience with others. If I can educate or encourage one person through my writing, then it’s worth it.
The most difficult part about writing is when I have a deadline and feel completely uninspired. Sometimes I just wait it out. But other times I try to put something – anything – down on paper. The fun part about the process is seeing what the end product is. On multiple occasions I have completed an article and said, “It just happened.”
We all know that good writing doesn’t “just happen.” Way to embrace those hard moments when it’s just you, a looming deadline and a blank screen. Next question, what was the best money you ever spent as a writer concerning craft? How about marketing?
Jenny: Two things immediately come to mind. The first was two online classes I took through our county’s Adult & Continuing Education Online Learning program: How to Make Money from Your Writing and Write Your Life Story. I became more confident in my writing by receiving both positive feedback and constructive criticism. But it was during the second class when God gently tapped me on the shoulder and said, “It’s time.”
The other best investment was taking Platform University. After completing my manuscript, I was ready to submit my work to literary agents. After approaching nearly two dozen agents, the first question I received was, “What’s your platform? How many people can you reach?” Every agent who responded to my query or proposal asked me this question.
I didn’t even know what a platform was. One agent was kind enough to recommend Platform University. It was a significant financial investment and time commitment. But after two years of building my platform, I have secured a literary agent. It’s a good lesson in the state of traditional publishing: your writing may be great, but without an existing audience, you don’t have much to offer a publisher.
Building a platform is a challenge. Sounds like you’ve gotten a good start. For our readers, below is a list of where you can connect with Jenny online. Final question, were you a young writer, late-bloomer, or somewhere in-between?
Jenny: I was definitely a late-bloomer. I fell into writing by chance. A friend asked if I would be willing to write a few articles about living life with a spinal cord injury with BardCare. Even though I was (and still am) working full-time, I thought it sounded interesting. But I didn’t expect to fall in love with it.
Although I’ve been a strong technical writer since high school (shout out to my high school English teacher, Mrs. Record!), I despised the required creative writing course in college. Through my work with BardCare and writing on my website JennySmithRollsOn.com, I have found freedom and – dare I say – a bit of creativity in writing I never expected. If someone would have told me I’d be doing this 20 years ago, I would have laughed.
The call to write can come at anytime! Thanks for sharing with us today.
Click to tweet: I didn’t even know what a platform was. One agent was kind enough to recommend Platform University. It was a significant financial investment and time commitment. But after two years of building my platform, I have secured a literary agent.
Jenny Smith Bio
When she was 16 years old, Jenny sustained a C6-7 spinal cord injury, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down. After completing a master’s degree in counseling psychology, she distributed wheelchairs for eight years in developing countries. Currently, Jenny works with an international non-profit organization supporting their workers while they live overseas. She has completed her memoir Keep on Rolling: How a Wheelchair Has Taken Me Places I Never Dared to Imagine. Hopefully, the book will be published in the near future. In the meantime, you can find her at JennySmithRollsOn.com or speaking at an event near you. You’ll also see Jenny rowing on the Ohio River and playing tennis and wheelchair rugby as a means to stay physically active.
If you would like to connect with Jenny, here’s how:
Keep on Rolling: How a Wheelchair Has Taken Me Places I Never Dared to Imagine
How do you respond when the unimaginable happens? When a single moment changes the course of your whole life? Many people never have to answer that question. Jenny Smith answered it when she was 16 years old.
Until the summer before her junior year in high school, Jenny was a typical teenager. She played in a band with her friends. She loved big bangs and make-up. She was a determined and talented gymnast. And she found her anchor in her friends, her family, and her faith. And then, while she was tumbling on wet grass one morning, the course of Jenny’s life changed forever.
In Keep on Rolling, Jenny explores how one moment redefined her future. After her spinal injury, most of the roles that she used to identify herself were shattered, but the core of what defined her remained. In the 30 years since her injury, Jenny has learned how to redirect her passions and gifts into new outlets—going farther and doing more with her life than she ever would have predicted.
In a wheelchair, Jenny has traveled the world. She’s played competitively in numerous sports. Jenny has been a runway model and a pageant winner. She ziplined through a rainforest. She has delivered wheelchairs and hope in developing countries and she’s counseled and cared for countless missionaries, helping them to stay healthy and thrive in the roles God has given them.
Jenny also discovered a deeper faith in God that could sustain her through the darkest valley. In the book, Jenny doesn’t shy away from the hardships that came with her paralysis. She explains the physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual challenges that she’s navigated since her injury. She examines how the suffering and reward often go together.
With an intensely honest and refreshingly humorous storytelling style, Jenny uncovers what it looks like to live with a spinal injury, from the everyday details that most people never think about to the countless interesting people Jenny has met along the way.
Keep on Rolling is ultimately a book about learning who you are, regardless of the roles that try to define you. When everything changed in a single moment, Jenny began a journey that helped her learn to live outside her comfort zone and that God is faithful even when it doesn’t feel that way.
And in the process, Jenny discovered that she could travel thousands of miles further in a wheelchair than she ever dared to imagine. She just had to keep on rolling.
Stay in touch with Jenny and where Keep On Rolling is in the publishing process through her website, JennySmithRollsOn. com.