Q&A, volume 2

It’s been a bit since I posted my last, so here’s a few more questions I’ve been asked.

Q: How you keep writing?
A: As much as I’d like to say there’s some kind of secret to keeping me going, there’s not. How do I keep writing? Honestly, I don’t. When it stops coming easily, I stop. There’s no point in forcing it, I’ll just be unhappy with it if I do. Muscling past writer’s block has never worked for me. The thing that works best for me is to keep a notebook with me. I fill it with thoughts and ideas for various stories, or jot down a scene here or there as it pops into my head. What really keeps me going is never letting the stories die in my head. As long as I’m thinking about them, about the chapters I haven’t written yet and the scenes I can’t wait to get to, I know I’ll get back to the project when the time is right.

Q: What motivates you to write?
A: This is something that’s actually hard to put a finger on. I find motivation in everything, really, ideas come to me and encourage me when I’m doing even the most mundane things, like washing dishes or driving to work. One thing that motivates me more than anything, though, is reading a well-written book.

Q: What inspired you to begin writing?
A: Honestly, I couldn’t tell you. I wanted to write from the time I was a very small child. I don’t even really remember the beginning of it! I was only a handful of years old when I learned how to use Lotus Works on Dad’s very first computer, and let me tell you, I bet it was odd seeing a tiny kid using DOS prompts to open a word processor instead of games!  I guess what really inspired me to start was that I was always a voracious reader, and my mom always had a fantastic selection of books in the house. The room with the first computer, down in the basement, was also the library. One wall was completely lined with books. Even when I was very young, I used to stand there looking at spines of books – Especially big, fat ones like Mom’s copies of Thoreau or The Portable Walt Whitman – and dream about what it would be like to have my name on that shelf, too. Just being in the same room as them when the word processor was open was enough reason to get started.

Q: What inspires you the most?

A: Much like what motivates me, this is something that’s really hard to quantify. I guess overall, I draw the most inspiration from being exposed to a good story. It can be anything from a movie to a book, but once I’ve heard a great story, I’m usually brimming with inspiration to work on mine. There’s plenty of other things I draw inspiration from, though – One of my favorite things to do when I need a dose of inspiration is to go outside with my iPod and just sit. Or even better, find a swing set and spend a good hour or so on a swing. The simple things in life are sometimes the greatest to help us keep going.

Q: The story you’re currently working on, how long has that been a WIP?
A: Oh, that one’s actually kind of embarrassing! The story I’m currently writing was my first idea for a novel. It’s my Holy Grail, the one story I want to finish if I never finish writing anything else in my life. But because I have such love for the story, I never feel like my writing really does it justice.  I started writing it when I was sixteen, but I’ve edited, redone, scrapped and restarted it at least half a dozen times. After nine years of working on it, I’m reasonably content with this incarnation so far, but I’m only halfway through the story, so we’ll see how long that lasts.

Q: What advice would you give aspiring authors?
A: Finish a book. It seems like a no-brainer, but actually completing a story is a huge feat. It’s filled with pitfalls and perils and you’ll probably hate the process, you’ll probably want to give up a million times. The moment you look back at all of your progress and realize you hate everything you’ve written so far is the point you know you’ve got something special on your hands. It’ll take a lot of time to finish and even more time to polish, but finish it first… And then edit, edit, and edit again. You can never edit enough.

Q: What did you want to do before deciding to become a writer?
A: I went through a few phases of things I wanted to do with my life, but I think writing was always my ultimate goal. When I was a kid, I had a collection of stories written by James Herriot that made me want to become a veterinarian for farm animals. That want evolved into a desire to own a pet store, and somewhere along the line I decided I should give up on animals and become a jewelry designer and own my own jewelry boutique. Since websites like Etsy made that one an actuality, I moved on to my real goal of writing. Of course, I had two other dreams when I was a teenager. I either wanted to own a candy store that was something like Willy Wonka’s factory inside, or I wanted to own a coffee shop. The latter may happen someday, because after all, coffee shops and writers seem to go hand in hand, don’t they?

Have a question for me? Leave a comment here or on Facebook and I’ll address it in the next Q&A; volume!

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