Last month, SG Browne, Dana Fredsti, and I chatted at the Borderlands Cafe about why writers do what they do. The event was organized by Scott as a way to encourage more writers to join the San Francisco Writers Coffeehouse, which meets at the cafe on the fourth Sunday of each month. They’re meeting today from 5 pm until 6 or whenever it breaks up.
Before we did our panel, Scott sent around some questions to consider. Because I’m OCD, I went ahead and wrote my answers down. Here they are, in interview form.
What made you want to become a writer?
Star Wars. I wrote stories before that, but Star Wars set me on fire. I wanted to write stories that made me feel like Luke watching the sunset on Tattooine.
What drives you to write?
I write to make sense of the world. I can’t stop. I think writing is a kind of magic. It’s taking an image in my head and transferring it to a reader’s head. That’s is really cool – and such an honor.
Has what motivated you to write initially changed over the years?
No. I still write for myself, then look for a publisher.
How do you go about your writing process?
I write everything longhand, then type it it. That helps me edit as I go. Also, I generally write out of order. I really like the puzzle-piecing part of assembling a book, when I make sense of everything and fit it all together. I spend a lot of time writing in cafes. It’s easier for me to concentrate with background noise and people moving around. I especially like Shut Up and Write, which is a Meet-Up for writers that meets all over the Bay Area. Sitting with them is always very inspiring.
What is the easiest and/or hardest part of writing?
The easiest part is slapping words down. The hardest part is waiting to hear back about submissions. The total lack of control over that process still frustrates me.
How do you balance your live/work life when it comes to writing?
I have a kid, so I have to deal with the real world on a daily basis. I’m the work-at-home parent, so I cope with deliveries and house repair and food and pets. In return, I get an absolutely silent house during the school year. My husband is a musician, so I cover for him when he’s rehearsing or playing out. Both doing creative works balances out the time between us.
What drove you to write what you write?
I’ve always wanted to be a novelist, but nonfiction is easier to place. I sort of stumbled into the cemetery stuff, but I’m on a mission now.
The science fiction was an old love. I just kept submitting things to Night Shade until they finally bought something.
I write the urban fantasy because I love the old occult detective stories – and I want to write about the places I travel.
What resources aid you in your writing that you would recommend to other writers?
I love Nanowrimo (the National Novel Writing Month). It teaches you skills in how to move forward on a project, how to keep going when you’re lost, how to figure things out along the way. There’s a lot to be said for knowing that thousands of other people are suffering alongside you, trying to create something out of mere thoughts. Whether you complete a novel in a month or not, it’s extremely valuable to learn how to get the work done.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting down the writing path?
Ask for help and be prepared to accept it. The writers who get work – and get asked back – are the ones who are flexible and willing to listen to an editor or a publisher. If you freak out every time an editor moves a comma, you are not going to have a good time as a writer. There is always more to learn. It’s best to be open to teachers: especially the ones who want to pay you.