By Haley Wilson
The Birmingham Times
In 2020, while the world was grappling with a global pandemic and civil unrest, award-winning freelance journalist, Javacia Harris Bowser was having chemotherapy and radiation treatments for a diagnosis with stage 2 breast cancer.
“My initial reaction when I found out [about the breast cancer] . . . I was kind of numb,” she said. “But I didn’t cry honestly. I wasn’t sad or even scared in that moment… I believe it was like it didn’t hit me at first. I was more focused on ‘Ok. what do we need to do to beat it?’
Prior to her diagnosis, Bowser had been working on a big goal: writing her first book.
“I was in the process of writing my book in 2017,” she said. “…I felt like I was ready to go. Then my husband Edward and I went for a walk, and he asked me what the book was about…and I couldn’t tell him. The book to me at the time lacked focus…so I just eventually put the idea on the backburner.”
Her breast cancer diagnosis led her to turn back to what she knew best: writing. Little did she know that the diagnosis would also serve as the catalyst for her recently released book: ‘Find Your Way Back: How to Write Your Way Through Anything.’
Bowser has planned two book parties. The first will be held virtually on Tuesday, March 15, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Bowser will read a few of her favorite essays from the collection while April Stearns of Wildfire Magazine will lead a live Q&A discussion about the book, writing life, cancer, and more. RSVP here: tinyurl.com/FindYourWayBackVirtualParty
The second is in person on Friday, March 18 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Orchard House, 3504 7th Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35222. A limited number of copies will be available for purchase at the event. RSVP here: tinyurl.com/FindYourWayBackBHMParty
“When I was diagnosed, that really became the thread I needed to jump back into my idea for a book,” she said. “It was the motivation I needed to find exactly what I wanted my book to be about.”
In her collection of heartwarming and inspiring essays, Bowser who is cancer-free as of December 2020, details not only what breast cancer taught her about writing, wellness, and womanhood, but also encourages women to go after their goals.
“Find Your Way Back isn’t solely a book about cancer,” she said. “I wrote this book for the girl in you who has always wanted to write and for the woman in you who struggles to find the time or the courage to put her words on paper. Instead of putting writing on the back burner when life gets turned upside down, we should turn to writing to help life make sense again. I wrote this book to show you that you can write your dreams into reality.”
Bowser has written for a number of local, regional, and national media outlets including Birmingham’s NPR affiliate, Good Grit magazine, The Birmingham Times, Heart & Soul magazine, HerMoney.com, and USA Today. Named one of Birmingham’s Top 40 Under 40 Birmingham Business Journal, she “believes people can all write their way to the life of their dreams.”
See Jane Write
Bowser, an Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) graduate in Birmingham where she also taught as well, is also a graduate of the journalism programs at the University of Alabama and the University of California at Berkeley.
In June 2011, she launched ‘See Jane Write’, her blogging platform, as a way to meet other female writers in the Birmingham area, but it “quickly grew into a supportive community and a valuable resource for writers nationwide” and is now an award-winning website and full-time business for Bowser.
“The name is inspired from the popular ‘Dick and Jane’ children’s books I grew up with,” she said. “I didn’t start it as a business. It wasn’t even supposed to be anything serious. I basically wanted a group of women writers to hang out with. So, I messaged two women that I found online and by looking at other magazines and other publications, and said, ‘hey, I want to start a women’s writing group. I know you’re a writer’…It was 12 women and that very first meeting we just met for tacos.”
See Jane Write grew in popularity as more women started requesting more workshops and events she said.
“I was putting on these events for free at first,” she said, “Everything was coming out of my pocket, and I literally had a talk with my husband, and we said …’Why not make it a full business?”
Now Bowser offers coaching services, writing workshops, networking events and subscriptions through See Jane Write.
“It is honestly my baby,” she said. “Writing has opened so many doors for me and given me the opportunity to meet and help so many different people and I’m so appreciative for the journey this far and the future ahead.”
Bowser’s book, ‘Find Your Way Back: How to Write Your Way Through Anything’ can be purchased here.
Meet Javacia at Thank You Books in Crestwood:
When: Sunday, March 20 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.,
Where: Thank You Books, 5502B Crestwood Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35212
Details: Javacia will be signing copies of Find Your Way Back.