I get questions sometimes from readers who happen by my table at shows and sometimes I get random questions from people who aren’t readers, but are just curious about my process. I try to make a mental note of them and answer them later on. Well, today is the day! So, without further ado, here are some of the answers to your most burning questions.
Do you do NaNoWriMo? (I get this one a lot.)
No, I think I was vaccinated against that as a child. Seriously though, I write at a rate of about 1.25 novels per year. I also write a couple of short stories when the spirit moves me and then blog posts. All of that takes time and stopping everything I’m doing to work on a novel that has to be written during the month of November is detrimental to my process. Besides that, I am a true “pantser” as we say. I write when the spirit moves me. I write every day, but it can be anywhere from 1,000 words to 4,000+. The only absolute is that I write every day. And by write I mean first draft, edit, or proofread. If I’m in an editing cycle (as I am right now), I don’t have time to simply work on a new first draft.
What do you have against NaNoWriMo, anyway?
Nothing! For some of you, it’s a kick in the butt and could help get you started on that great American novel you’re promising the world. Good on you. But, and remember this point, on September 1st, you need to keep going. NaNoWriMo is about establishing habits that should carry you on. There’s no such thing as “done” for a writer.
What is the hardest part about being a writer?
Balance! Like a lot of writers, I have a full time job as well. I’d love nothing more than to just write full time. Being a full time writer is my goal, but for right now the state says I must feed my children. So, off to work I go for forty hours a week.
Also, when I get home I want to write. I don’t want to make dinner, run to the store, go to the PTA meeting. This is hard to really justify when your wife comes home and she wants nothing to do with making dinner. Admittedly I am not very good at this one. But, balance is the key and something I’m constantly in search of.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I get this one a lot. Really, they just come to me. Stephen King has joked that his ideas come from a used idea store in Utica. The answer is really that they just pop in my head. The idea will be overwhelming and I’ll borrow a piece of paper if I am at dinner or something and I’ll jot it down. I actually have the back sheet of a bulletin from church sitting next to me with a story idea I thought of during the final hymn one day. Yes, I had to write it down. It was a pretty great idea.
How do you know when a novel is done?
That’s easy … I type “The End”. Seriously though, the characters in the story line tell me when I’m done with the story. For example, in The Dramatic Dead I typed, “The End” and was immediately bothered by the character of Rigby. Why would he keep bugging me? Well, because his story was not done and he took personal offense at that. Hence, the Epilogue to The Dramatic Dead was born. There was a part of the story that was eluded to but never really discussed. Yes, I could have left it at the words “The End”, but that would have left Rigby’s story line unresolved.
In the book I am editing now, I write the final lines and then was immediately bothered by one of the characters. It was an unresolved string in the story line that I had to address or I would have been bothered by it. So, back to the keyboard I went and added a chapter. Interestingly enough, at the same time I was dealing with that, one of my beta readers noticed that I hadn’t really dealt with that issue either. So, it was not just me that time.
I hope you enjoyed my little impromptu question and answer session! I’d like to do more of these so if you have any questions you want answered, please post them here or e-mail me. You can go to my website to contact me.
-Your Humble Servant,