Scene & Heard, Springfield

Jessica Cagle-Faber writes her own way

Jessica Cagle-Faber is a local speaker and mentor in Springfield working on her debut novel. Her presentations have focused on overcoming rejection when it comes to submitting work. PHOTO PROVIDED

SPRINGFIELD – When Jessica Cagle-Faber was younger, she worked as a professional dancer. At least until her fear of rejection got the better of her. Then she decided to pursue a career where she could get away from that – writing.
”At least this isn’t to-my-face rejection,” Cagle-Faber said, laughing.
Cagle-Faber is working on her debut novel while offering workshops and giving chapter readings and informational presentations in Springfield. She has presented at Wordcrafters and Willamette Writers in Eugene, as well as at the Oregon Writers of Color Spring Showcase in Portland.
”As an author, I started learning right away that I need a platform. I don’t love the marketing side, but I have to pay attention to it,” she explained. ”I love to teach, and to teach you have to be published. I thought it would be good to start the process.”
Cagle-Faber knew she wanted to be a novelist for a long time, but she said the practical side of her brain told her to do journalism instead. She has written for both the Eugene Weekly and The Register-Guard, and said it was good background.
”What I love about journalism, especially with what’s happening today, is I like facts,” she said. ”And what I love about fiction is taking those and working them any way you want.”
Once she realized she wanted to pursue fiction, she went to Goddard College in Washington to earn her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. Along with her degree, the biggest takeaway for her was how to manage her crippling fear of rejection.
She said she met local author Cai Emmons 17 years ago and told Emmons her secret desire was to write novels. Now, Cagle-Faber recognizes that she was thinking about the story she’s currently working on that long ago, but what had stopped her from actually writing it was fear.
”A great thing, going to Goddard College, (was that) my advisor wrote the book, ‘On Writer’s Block,’ and it focused on the idea that there’s almost not a block, it’s really perfectionism and your self-critic,” she explained. ”That’s been so true for me. I knew I had to address that – almost giving myself permission to write.”
She started to think that she couldn’t be the only one, and so how to overcome a fear of rejection is an issue that she brings up in her presentations.
”I actually love the feeling of connecting with other writers and they understand what I’m saying,” she said. ”One of my favorite things when teaching at the library workshop, I could see the wheels turning. They just have to give themselves permission to write, and that makes me feel good; I love that.”
Cagle-Faber has been working on her novel for three years. She has written and restructured it five different times, and said she is now at a point where she can send out chapters to literary journals to be published.
The novel focuses on an Irish-Mexican hospice nurse who is dealing with issues of not feeling Mexican enough, connections to her family, her dysfunctional marriage and her special relationship with death. The story plays with magical realism as well as incorporating flashbacks.
”Going back and reading something, even though there’s some work that needs to be done, and being like, ‘I created that. I created this whole other world.’ That’s the rewarding part,” she said.
Beyond dealing with mental barriers, the biggest struggle is finding time to write and balancing that with being a mother.
”I’ve noticed this with women who are moms – it’s not just hard to find the time, but, ‘Am I allowed to do that? Am I taking away from important things?’” she said. ”Women need to know that you have the right to carve out your own space and it’s good for your children to see that.”



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