Posts Tagged ‘interview’

Quintuple Digits and I’m Already Famous

I crossed over the 10,000 word mark this evening.  Not only does that put me two full days ahead of schedule, but it is a monumental milestone for my novel.  The story is in full swing, and I’m starting to get a picture for where everything is headed. It’s very exciting.  That said, I am very tired, and also, I am famous.  I was interviewed by Patrick Nathan, the production editor of Xenith, an online magazine of poetry, prose, and experimental writing.  My blog post for this evening is the full text of that interview, as follows. Enjoy!

This is me, David, in case you were wondering.

How long have you considered yourself a writer?

A writer? I can’t remember ever not considering myself a writer. Writing is just something I do, like breathing. But being a writer is not very glamorous. It’s sort of like calling yourself a golfer or basketball player. Lots of people write; most of them do it badly. I’m progressing, now, away from calling myself a writer. That’s sort of the purpose of writing my novel. I want to be able to introduce myself as an author. That’s a title that actually means something. That means I don’t just put words down idly when I get bored or ‘the inspiration strikes.’ Being an author means that I have been responsible for creating something that is very real and tangible. It sounds pretty too.

When and why did you start writing?

I wrote a bad knock-off of The Lord of the Rings when I was seven or eight. It was two, maybe three pages long, and I was extremely proud of it. My illusions of instant fame and fortune were shattered when my mother pointed out that it was essentially the same story – I used a necklace instead of a ring. I thought that was pretty different – but she praised the writing itself. I don’t know that I had any sort of motivation behind writing that story aside from a deep desire to create something. That drive toward creating something from perceivably nothing has been the force behind my writing ever since.

What made you decide that now was the time to participate in NaNoWriMo?

Failure, really. For years, I’ve ‘attempted’ NaNo, with a vague concept of some story I should start, and for five years now, I’ve rattled off 12,000 words or so and walked away bored. The problem, of course, is that I, like many others, was romanced by the idea of writing a novel, but turned off by the process. Writing is, after all, very hard work. Harder than any construction job, for sure. Over the last several months now, as the month of November approached, I found myself terrified by the thought of starting another novel and failing. For a while, I was convinced that November would be just another month.

Then, I started reading again, like I hadn’t read in years. I read authors from different genres, different styles, different time periods, and different cultures. I read books that were famous and yet still terrible. Writing that was beautiful in stories that weren’t, and vice versa. I realized that the reason I wasn’t finishing the novels I started was that I wasn’t willing to be imperfect. I wanted to write a great novel, but I didn’t realize that before you can write a great novel, you have to start with first writing a novel.

So, I dreamed up the premise of the story I’m writing now, and I got to work, planning how I was going to write. I’ve decided to allow my premise and my characters drive the story, and not worry about the one typing it. It’s working out well so far.

You’ve started a blog documenting your experiences in writing your novel. So far you’ve discussed your own apprehensions, the concept of inspiration, time management and procrastination, and the absolute terror that is starting a project like this. Now that you’ve begun the novel writing process, do you see yourself continuing to update regularly?

Absolutely, Invisible Exile is a blog about the process of writing a novel and about being a writer. That requires regular updates to be successful. I have rules though. I’m not allowed to update the blog if I’m behind schedule with the novel, and I don’t post my writing (excerpts excluded). The first actually seems to be helping with production, since I enjoy updating the blog so much. The second is because my novel is not ready for public consumption, and putting it up for display seems akin, at least to me, to a pastry chef just throwing the ingredients to a cake in a bowl and serving it up in lieu of dessert. You don’t eat a cake before it’s been finished being baked and decorated, and you don’t read my novel until it’s completely written and revised and preferably not before you’ve paid the kind man at your favorite bookstore.

For many young writers, the idea of writing a novel is surrounded by so much mystery and terror that they never even dare to make their dreams come true. Would you say it’s one of your goals with this blog to humanize and demystify this entire process?

One of many, yes. We are taught, implicitly, that our favorite authors are superheroes. They are the giants of literature and the moguls of syntactical manipulation. As I’ve dived deeper and deeper into reading, however, I’m learning more and more that the books I read are written by men and women, not by demigods. They were not selected from the heavens to be the purveyors of literature; they just sat down and did it. Except for Mark Twain. But don’t get me started on him.

This is my fabulous office space.

I want the people who read my blog to get two very important things: First, anyone can write a novel (or a short story or a poem). Second, writing a novel is hard work, and requires a larger commitment of time, energy, sweat and tears than probably anything else you’ve done in your life.

If you’re willing to accept those two premises, then the hard part is over. After that, it’s just sitting down to do it. I think there’s some minor entertainment factor involved as well. We watch shows like Survivor and Fear Factor because we like watching real people fall down and make fools of themselves. I imagine I’ll do that from time to time as well.

What is your own biggest fear in starting your first novel?

My biggest fear is that I won’t finish. I’m afraid of losing steam. I’m putting more of myself into this project than I have anything in a very long time. Failure would be very painful for me.

What do you look forward to most?

I am looking forward to those moments when my characters completely surprise me. I can’t wait to be writing and realize that something has just happened in a scene, not because I dreamt it up, but because it followed naturally from the identity of a character or situation that I created.

Writing a novel can be a very transformative process for a writer. How do you think this process will change you?

That’s hard to say, but I know that even in the last few days, I realize that I look at words differently. I no longer see sentences and paragraphs, but scenes and histories and I realize that all I’m doing is touching the very edges of a world that I thought I was creating. As I trot along though, I feel like more like I’m discovering something that was already there. Writing, and probably reading too, will never be the same for me after this.

Also, I’ll be an author, and when people ask me what I do, I can tell them that I write. I might also mention my day job, but that will be on a case by case basis.

What would you say to a young writer still on the fence about writing his or her novel in celebration of NaNoWriMo?

Fences are uncomfortable, and I recommend getting off on one side or the other as soon as conveniently possible. You are either going to do it or you’re not. If you’re not, don’t bother starting, and spend your time doing something productive, like homework or writing short stories or poetry. If you are going to do it, then jump in with both feet and don’t let anything stop you. Excuses are a writer’s favorite plaything, along with procrastination and obsessive compulsiveness.