What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
First of all, you have to be patient. From first draft to seeing your work in print (if it ever gets there) takes time. First, you have to edit your work; then have someone else read it to catch all the stuff you missed (you’ll miss plenty, believe me); then incorporate those notes into your next round of edits; then submit it; then wait to hear back; then (if you get accepted) wait for the publisher’s edits (they’ll catch stuff you and your beta reader(s) missed, too); then wait even longer for it to actually come out. So, yeah. Patience is key. You’re gonna need a lot.
Do you write long-hand with pen/pencil and paper or do you write on a computer?
Both. I am writing two novellas (one urban fantasy/weird, and one middle-grade monster story) longhand, but I write most of my shorts (and the novel I co-wrote, along with its sequel) on a computer.
What are your favorite writing and research tools?
The Internet! Also, the books On Writing by Stephen King, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Read them if you haven’t. Read them again if you have. Good stuff. I also edit, so I keep a dictionary and the Chicago Manual of Style close at hand.
Are the names of the characters in your writing important? What about the titles? How do you choose them?
Honestly, sometimes the character names just pop into my head, and they’re usually just right. Sometimes, I agonize over them. One of my favorites is Marvel Hatch, an artist, who just appeared in print in the short story Jello Elvis. It’s an oddball tale, and he needed an unusual name. Titles have always been easy for me, too. Not sure why. I rarely have to put too much thought into them. However, I know writers who worry titles like a Rottweiler with a rawhide chew toy.
How do you react to a negative review of one of your manuscripts?
You don’t. No good can come of that. Responding to a positive review, with a “thank you” or “that’s very kind of you” is fine, and probably appreciated by the reviewer. Responding to negative review is opening a very ugly can of carnivorous worms. Don’t do it. Just ignore them and enjoy the good ones.
Do you ever write naked?
I will now.
What was your favorite scene or poem to write, and why was it so enjoyable?
When my first story collection (An Aberrant Mind) came out, I did a blog tour to promote it. One of the assignments was to write a “nonfiction” piece where I meet one of my characters from the book. I chose Gavin the werewolf (who has gone on to star in several of my stories). We met in a bar, and had a couple beers and a great conversation. It was early in my career, but remains one of my favorite pieces of writing.
Print books versus e-books; do you have a preference, and why?
I adore books. Real, physical books you hold in your hands, turning the pages, inhaling the scent. It’s a sensual experience, engaging the reader’s senses and mind. E-books are wonderful for storing hundreds of titles, and are super-convenient, but I will always choose the original kind.
Name a topic that you refuse to write about, and tell us, why won’t you write about that topic?
Child abuse. Particularly molestation. I find the topic utterly abhorrent, and don’t like reading it; I won’t write it. It comes up a lot in my primary genre (horror), but I won’t do it. Makes me sick, just thinking about it.
What is your best advice for beginning writers?
Other than be patient (see the first question), be nice, and be professional. When dealing with other writers, editors, and publishers, keep it clean, and keep it neat. It’s fine to joke around with people you know already, especially if they’re joking around with you. But, when you are interacting with anyone in the field, especially early in your relationship, keep it cool. Once you get a bad reputation in this field, it’s very hard to undo it. And, editors know one another. It’s a small, tight community, and people talk. So, don’t be a jerk. You’ll find your career over before it starts. Good luck out there. It’s a tough gig, but it’s also an amazing thing, seeing your work in print; getting good reviews; having readers reach out to you to tell you how much they enjoyed your work. It’s pretty cool.
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Written By Ken McGregor...
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