As a Christmas present to all of you, I would like to share my interview with Will Wight, the author of the Travelers Gate trilogy. It makes sense for me to share this with you all today, because Will is offering a Christmas discount on the second book in his trilogy, The Crimson Vault. He also has his next series coming out soon, and the cover looks amazing (Of Shadow and Sea). To add extra candy to the stockings, my book Creative Writing Career features his interview and many more, and is also on a Christmas sale for $0.99. So treat yourself to some Christmas magic and pick up electronic copies of both of our books and enjoy some wonderful reading this weekend.
Will went straight into an MFA program from undergrad, published the first book of his trilogy, and has had some success working as an author. The result of his drive to write was that he did not have to find a mediocre desk job like many of us have to do in order to pay the bills—he is a writer who pays his bills through his writing. We have much to learn from Will.
Have you considered turning your novel into a screenplay? How about a graphic novel? Video Game? Many writers out there find that dipping their toes in multiple lakes leads to a greater chance of success, and if nothing else it will lead to more discoverability.
Take for example, the first question I ask of Allen Warner (below), in my interview with him that you can find in my book, Creative Writing Career. Allen’s journey included a screenplay, a short story, and the published graphic novel series. And the screenplay was optioned! This likely would not have been possible if he just sat back and wrote the novel version.
A sad sort of nostalgia haunts me as I stand outside my old elementary school. As a kid, I used to get this schizophrenic notion that certain places only existed when I was present there to observe them. How could you ever actually prove otherwise? Summerfield was one such place. The idea that my school still retained its tangibility even in the thin hours of night when no one was around seemed foreign and distant; as foreign and distant as the concept of death.
Of course, I believed a lot of things back then. I believed that if I could manage to stay awake until midnight, I’d be able to hear the bells of Big Ben chiming all the way from London. I believed that one day I might just be able to bend the laws of physics and learn how to fly. A notoriously weird kid, from the time I could first talk I didn’t just tell everyone that I was from Neptune, I believed it. (more…)
Just like hipsters and Scientology, the city of Flint is one of those things that’s easy to make fun of. Often referred to as “America’s murder capital”, it saw 66 murders in 2012, tying with its all-time high from just two years before. Not too shabby when you consider that equates to 65 murders per 100,000 people, a figure that tops that of Detroit or even Chicago. (more…)
I like to write early. And by early, I mean that knife-edge, where-does-the-night-end-and-the-morning-begin? ass-crack-of-dawn kind of early where everyone’s still asleep and the house is quiet and even the dogs look as though they’re trying to sleep off the remnants of a ruff night (har har…get it?). The smell of coffee wafts through the house and it’s the time of day when I’m at my least self-critical. Early in the morning, everything seems in place. Distractions are limited. All I can hope for is that once I finally sit down at my laptop, my expectations don’t go slamming head-on into a wall.
I once had an idea for a novella about a long-haul truck driver who, at day’s end and by the glow of a map light in his sleeper cabin, commits himself to writing a poem a day. Its working title was Road Scholar and I’d kept detailed notes on everything from semi-truck mechanics and nomenclature to radio jargon and trucker lifestyle (with two subsections devoted entirely to trucker gastronomy and lot lizards). I’d given my salty dog protagonist a Kris Kristofferson-look and had even sketched out a limited backstory that included a dishonorable discharge from military service for having killed the pimp of a Laotian prostitute.
It was a sure thing. Something easy and fun. The intellectual equivalent of ordering-in. But in those precious, waning hours of early morning silence and concentration, I found myself barely able to squeeze out even a few sentences. The same thing happened the next day, and the day after that. Weeks passed, and nary a page came and before long I had all but aborted the project.
I suspect that, like most writers, the turbine that generates my creativity comes from some precinct of my unconscious; a place that can never be charted or mapped by even the most sensitive of neuro-imaging instruments. It can be an ornery and complicated thing. A frigid lover. And you have to ready yourself to accept that inspiration might just reject you when you’re most ready for it, only to come pounding down the door of your unconsciousness at 3 am when you should be asleep.
Personally, routine is what seems to be the best companion for writing (I like to write in the morning…rarely do I ever write past noon). But on a bad day, when I’ve squandered my time with self-doubt (which is the inevitable by-product of non-performance), I find myself feeling as if it’s necessary to work past my “normal business hours” until I can find just one sentence I feel good about ending the day with. Perhaps it’s no different than a gambler at a blackjack table who feels he’ll win it all back if he just hangs in there. It doesn’t help, of course, when you compare yourself to other established writers who seem capable of churning out one work after another with little to no effort. In a swelled and euphoric state, you may produce a good six or seven pages of what might seem keepable material one day only to scrap it all the next; perhaps no different than bedding someone one night only to regret it the next morning.
Inspiration can strike at any time. Have your coffee ready.
Consider horror maestro Stephen King who was, at one time, contracted to produce three books a year. Norman Mailer’s series of child support payment books were written quick and haphazardously just to keep the Friend of the Court off his ass. Literary jokester David Foster Wallace once famously said of John Updike that “…he’s never had a single, unpublished thought.” Each writer I’ve just mentioned have themselves struggled with productive droughts. Yet, between the three of them, the words produced would probably rival the number of stars in our galaxy.
So, is it still possible then to plod through and produce volumes of passable material in a relatively short time? I guess the answer is subjective. If you think what you’ve written isn’t entirely shit, then it shouldn’t matter how much time or effort you’ve put into it, which brings me to my own self-evaluation. I can’t help but wonder sometimes if I acquiesce too much to the ebb and flow of inspiration to begin with. Perhaps the advice should be to just ram through any future creative roadblocks and keep…writing.
That’s the thing about advice, though. It’s much easier to give, than follow.
Today I am happy to share my interview with Tomiko Breland, who I had the pleasure of meeting at my time in the Johns Hopkins MA in writing program. Tomiko is a fiction writer and an Associate Publisher at The Zharmae Publishing Press. She won the Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest and is working on a novel. Additionally, she has an editing/graphic design/freelance business, called Paper Star Editorial & Design.
(If you would like to read more interviews, check out my book that will be coming out late November on how to position yourself for a creative writing career. To get on the mailing list, contact me at SloanArtst@gmail.com)