Early in June, I and three other amazing writers kicked off a mini blog tour that we called “Two Questions With…”
Each week, each of us would answer two questions and we’d post the answers on our respective blogs.
This week I’m going to recap each of my Two Questions and combine my answers into a single post. Are you ready?
Question #1: Why do you write?
I write because I’ve always wanted to see what’s “Out There.”
For me, that can have a number of definitions. “Out There” can be just around the corner, out of sight. It can be whatever is over that next rise, around that bend in the road, beneath the sea, or a million light years away.
I write because I wanted to be The Doctor. I wanted a big blue box that could take me anywhere in space and time. I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. I was that little boy staring off into the sunset, or up into the night sky (Hoo, boy, the night sky…) and, in most respects, I still am.
I’ve grown up enough to know that I’m probably never going to leave this wonderful little planet with all of its places to explore and experience.
But I haven’t lost the wonder of the stars.
I’ll stand outside, staring up at the night sky, until my neck gets stiff, wondering what else is out there, what is going on, even as I stand there.
And since I can’t get out there, I do what I can to bring the “Out There,” down here.
Question 2: What does a typical writing day look like? Any Pre-Writing rituals?
My typical writing day begins at 5:00 am. I get up early, so that I can get my writing done and out of the way. I’ve tried writing at other times with varying degrees of success. Typically, when I get home from the day job, I’m too drained to get anything down. I’m also wired to be available to my family. It takes a lot of effort for me to shut myself off from everyone, so I bypass that by getting up before everyone else.
I usually have about 60 to 90 minutes to write per day during the week, with the exception being the weekends, and on Wednesdays where I meet up with some local writers at a nearby coffee shop and get some work done.
Ok, seriously, the majority of those first few minutes in the wee hours of the morning are part of the ritual. I get up, throw something on, and shuffle out of the bedroom. I let the oldest dog out, then start making the coffee (a critical part of the ritual). While the coffee is brewing, I’ll heat up something for breakfast (First meal of the day is really important). Once I’ve got the coffee, let the dog back in, etc. I’ll head to the writing room, sit down, and get to work.
I write to music. Almost exclusively to Blind Guardian, so they’ve got to be playing before I get started. The very last thing I do is go back and read the last few lines of what I was working on the session before, to gather some momentum.
Question #3: What is the hardest part about writing?
Beginning. Hands down. I have the most trouble with beginning. Now, when I say “Beginning,” I don’t mean beginnings, as in the start of the story. I mean Beginning. Sitting down to write, making that commitment, shutting yourself away from family, friends, the dogs, TV, games, the internet, dishes, that bit of laundry you’ve got to d—
That’s the hardest part for me. I won’t say that the rest is easy. Writing is hard work, no matter how you go about it. But it’s also fun work. Once I get started, I can fall so deeply into it that I’ll lose time. And it doesn’t matter what part of the process I’m in. Drafting, editing, revising (yes, there’s a difference), or any other part of it.
Beginning, though, is a hurdle that I’ve got to jump every time.
Question #4: What is your “Go-to” thing that you treat yourself to when you finish a first draft?
The thing I go for when I finish a draft is a grilled steak. Where I go depends on the time of year it is. If it’s not near freezing (or raining), I’ll happily bundle up and get the charcoal grill going. In the event that’s not a viable thing, then there are a couple of places around that I could go to.
Pizza from one of the local places is a good “Plan B”
Question #5: What attracted you to your genre(s)?
The first book that I can remember reading was “Sir MacHinery” by Tom McGowan. This is the book that made me a reader. It was the first book to make me forget that I was reading a book at all. The pages went away, and I was filled with a sense of wonder at what I was seeing in my mind.
There were other books, to be sure. Tolkien, The Dragonlance Chronicles, The Iron Tower Trilogy, but I’ve always had a spot in my heart for MacHinery. Arguably, one of the first urban fantasy books out there, I think that the reason why the book struck me the way it did was because it was steeped in a world that I recognized, but was, somehow, more. In its pages, indeed on the very cover, science and magic walked side by side, and I was convinced that, if I only looked in the right place at the right time, I would discover that it was all real. That’s what draws me to fantasy
Then came Star Wars. First the movie, and then the novelisation, turned my attentions from this world, to other worlds far, far, away. Interestingly enough, the famous opening line “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” also brought to mind the world that I recognized.
I would stand in my back yard or – as I do to this very day – my front porch, looking up at the night sky and wonder what was going on far, far away. If, a long time ago, they had star fighters and light sabers, I wondered, what do they have now? What epic struggles were taking place out there, while the rest of my world went on about its business, oblivious.
I had to know. And, realistically, the only way I could find out was to answer those questions myself.
Question #6: What is one thing that you’ve done for research that you’ve struggled to explain to a non-writer?
This is a great question, and situations like this, where I’m doing something for the WIP (Work in Progress) that cause non-writerly folk to raise an eyebrow, or take a few steps away, happen more often than you think.
The most recent example involves me and a bottle of brandy.
I’m currently working on a Space Opera, set “Far, far, away,” where there aren’t many current world analogues. So I’m trying to describe, using the senses (This is a good thing. Smell, taste, touch, all of that. Use it when you can) what would, essentially, be very close to a glass of brandy.
Brandy is like chocolate in that it is very difficult to describe what chocolate smells, or tastes like without using the word “Chocolate” in the description.
So there I was, at 7:30 in the morning (I get up to write pretty early, usually before the rest of the house wakes up), standing in the kitchen, with my nose stuck in a bottle of brandy – notepad and pen close at hand – inhaling over and over, and jotting down my interpretations of the smells.
Then my wife comes out of the bedroom. She takes one look at me, with the open bottle of alcohol in one hand, and a ballpoint pen in the other.
“Do I really want to know?” She asks.
I stop to consider this answer, very carefully.
“Probably not,” I say.
She nods, and returns to the bedroom.
And that was my Two Questions.
If you’re interested in what the other authors involved in the blog tour had to say about their questions, Please check out their Websites.
Who are the other authors, you ask?
These are an awesome collection of writers, and it would be well worth your time to check out their stories.
Trust me, Future You will think Present You is pretty damned awesome.
If you’ve followed this tour so far, I want to thank you so much for coming along for the ride. We do it for each and every one of you.
We hope you liked our little Q and A sessions and we hope you stayed for the stories. Until next time…
Be safe Y’All.
Be sure to stop by the Freebies page for story Excerpts.