You know about my ongoing tussle with our friend, Influenza, but I’ve managed to best it long enough to spit out some words. I remain hopeful that my recovery will continue, though from what I’m hearing, squashing this particular bug may take longer than normal.
In the meantime, I’ve been nominated for an award!
Friend and fellow writer, Brent Smith, nominated me for The Next Big Thing. What I really like about this award is that it’s not just a generic badge being passed around from blogger to blogger. It’s actually focused on writers and it gets us to do what a lot of us want to do, but don’t for one reason or another — talk about ourselves and our work.
Nearly one year ago, I met Brent through Online Writing Workshop (OWW), an online critique group dedicated to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror stories. Prior to joining OWW, I’d tried several writing groups and was pretty disappointed in the quality of feedback. Most of them seemed to be geared toward young writers, which is totally great, but just not what I was looking for. OWW was different and that was evidenced through the first piece of feedback I received on a short story I put up. Brent was the first to respond with a critique and it was some of the best 781 words of support, admonishment, and everything-in-between that I’d ever received on something I wrote. I emailed him a note of thanks and I’ve been privileged to call him a friend ever since.
About the award itself, I don’t look at it so much as a prize but more an opportunity to tell you about the guy writing this blog. I’m always surprised just how much I learn about myself and my habits when I answer questions like these. Nothing really makes you think about what you’re doing with your life then having to tell someone else.
On to Brent’s slightly modified questions!
What is the working title of your current project?
I have two projects in progress right now; one a short story, the other a novel.
My short story is for the LitReactor contest. The working title is, well, Untitled. Sorry for the disappointment, but I just haven’t come up with anything yet. That’s primarily because I haven’t settled on the main story idea. I have a strong candidate but it has a lot of weak spots that need reinforcement before I’m ready to commit.
Now for my novel, I do have a working title – Chasm.
Where do your ideas come from?
The generic answer, but only because it’s true – everywhere. Watching television, reading (fiction and nonfiction), composing music, staring listlessly across the work cafeteria, etc.
Before planning my current book, I spent some time thinking about what gets me excited to read a novel. Not necessarily the things that intrigue me after I’ve picked it up and already read through fifty pages, but what elements in the title, cover, and synopsis pull my interest?
I thought about my two all-time favorite series of novels that I’ve read – George R.R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Turtledove’s World at War. The books within each series have many wonderful parts that make up their whole, but there’s one thing that I’ve found intrigued me each time:
Immensity of story, not just in time, but in physical scope. Immensity of character, both in number and personality. Immensity of setting (The Wall!). Immensity of mystery. Immensity of stakes. Don’t give me a story about someone trying to patch a damaged relationship. Give me a story involving life-or-death salvation, and/or a riddle with enormous consequences if left unsolved.
I’m sure there’s some “misplaced Texan” or Freudian joke to be made here, but I like things big. That was my frame of mind when I started taking some of these ideas I’d accumulated and expanded them.
What genre do you write?
Would it be okay to answer, “I haven’t picked one yet?”
I lean toward science fiction and fantasy, but I also like writing about historical events and people. Horror is another genre I like to dabble in. I’ve heard it said many times that writers should know their audience if they want to succeed, at least commercially. Success would be nice, but right now, I don’t think I’m good enough to pinpoint an audience. My writing just goes where my mind takes it.
Describe your favorite character that you’ve created.
One of my aborted novels had a bad ass dude named Elio Cleft. It’s not that he wanted to be a badass, because he really had a gentle soul. But his physical size and social circumstances put him in situations where diplomacy rarely prevailed.
I’d like to spend some more time with him, or someone like him, on a future novel.
What would you do with your spare time if you weren’t writing?
Probably a better question is – “What do you do in your spare time when you could be writing?”
Spending time with the wife watching a movie, playing board games and cooking. Video games and composing music. Logic puzzles. Target shooting with pistols and rifles. Off-roading in the nearby desert areas. Camping.
Will your work be self-published or traditionally published?
In all honesty, I don’t know if I’ll ever have what it takes to be traditionally published. It may surprise you guys, but I’m okay with that. I’d be happy just to complete something and put it out myself with the hopes that a curious reader will enjoy it.
That’s not to say that I want to put out poorly edited material. I fully intend to polish my stuff as much as possible when that time comes.
How long does it take you to write a first draft?
It depends on if it’s a short story or novel, but I’ve cranked my short story first drafts out in a single night. If you’ve been following this blog for any decent amount of time, you already know I’ve never completed a first draft of a novel. Hopefully I can answer that more definitively the next time such a question comes around.
Whose work would you compare yours to within your genre?
Another question I hope I can answer in the future!
Who are your favorite writers?
I need to be careful here, because this is always changing (as it probably should be). But the ones that have stood the test of my reading career are Stephen King (those characters!), George R. R. Martin (again, those characters!), George Orwell (his non-fiction), and Mortimer J. Adler (a learned man with clear writing).
When and where do you do your best writing?
I seem to do my best writing in the evening on my desktop PC within the home office I share with my wife. It’s also the time I least want to write because it’s after work and I just want to eat and be lazy and play video games. I keep trying to convince myself about this early wake-up thing. What do I have to lose by trying it for a week or two?
Damn it, there I go… convincing myself. But will my stubbornness win? Stay tuned!
Thanks again, Brent, for tagging me with this fun award. I know not everyone enjoys being targeted with these, so I’ll just use some of this space to remind people to visit the Blogroll on the right-hand sidebar. It’s filled with excellent people who write excellent things.