Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Answers to Questions for Writers

On Google+, the social media outlet that's been dying of the same heart attack for years (shades of Hyman Roth), +Shen Hart tagged me on a list of questions about writing.  What follows are my answers.

Do you share your work with your partner or spouse? Does it matter if it’s been published yet?

I always give my fiction to my wife to read first before it goes anywhere.  She's very detail-oriented and works as the Product Owner for a software program that if you don't currently use, you've probably heard of.  She has to make sure that the i's are crossed and t's are dotted (hee hee) in all aspects of the product, and is extremely good at her job.  In addition and most importantly, our tastes in fiction don't always coincide.  This means that she doesn't have expectations about the subject matter, so if she likes it, that's helpful.  If she doesn't, she tells me why and I can decide to change it or not from there.

How much of your family and/or closest “friends in real life first” read your stuff…let alone give you feedback about it?

I have one friend whom I trust to give me unbiased feedback.  His name is Mike.  He's an educator and one of the sharpest men I've ever met.  Knowledgeable and smart don't always coincide, but they do in him.  He beta-read my first novel and I hope he'll do so for the next.  I have other close friends and family, and I value their feedback as well, but I fear their affection for me may cloud their perspicacity somewhat.

What do you do with the pieces that continually get rejected–post on your blog? Trash? When do you know it’s time to let it go?

I have only one piece of writing that has been rejected, but it's still a great story.  When I have more time, I will send it and other pieces further afield.  What I won't do moving forward is publish my fiction on my blog; there's some really good stuff there, and I want to get paid for it.  I trust myself to know if something's worth holding onto or ditching.

What is your main source of reading-based inspiration (especially you essayists)? Blogs? Magazines? Journals? Anthologies? Book of essays by one writer?

I don't read fiction for inspiration.  The essays I write are inspired by current events, usually.  When I'm not reading fiction, I'm reading newspapers, news sites, magazine articles, and other pieces of political interest.

What tends to spark ideas more for you: what you see/hear in daily life or what you read?

I don't know.  I've never measured that and don't know what the terms for calculating it might be.  My ideas come from my sick, sick id.

Who have you read in the past year or two that you feel is completely brilliant but so underappreciated?

I've recently started writing book reviews for Ginger Nuts of Horror, the UK's largest indie horror website.  Any of the four or five-star reviews written there will point you to brilliance that needs to be appreciated more.  My fellow reviewers there are extremely sharp and know good books from bad.

Without listing anything written by Dani Shapiro, Anne Lamott, Lee Gutkind, or Natalie Goldberg, what craft books are “must haves”?

Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish, Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart, and Dough by Richard Bertinet are all extraordinary craft books on the art of baking bread, and- oh.  You mean books on writing.  I don't know.  I don't own any, nor have I read any.  I read a lot every day, both fiction and non-fiction.  Does that count?

Have you ever regretted having something published? Was it because of the content or the actual writing style/syntax?

I would like to rewrite The Ultimate Guide to Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse some day, as I'm a much better writer now than I was in 2010, when it was published.  But I don't regret it or anything else I've published.

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