Some Questions I've Been Asked
I frequently receive questions by email, and thought I would post answers here. One from this week:
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing since I was about three years old. Yes, I was a very early reader.
Inspired by a trip to the moviehouse to see Bambi, I set out to write my own book. I had a title - The King of the Forest - and I managed two illustrated pages. Ran up against writer's block and went back to watching Mickey Mouse Club (the original) and crushing on Astro-boy (newfangled modern cartoon in those days, black and white).
The writing bug was upon me, however, and I continued my scribbling, transitioning to poetry for some years. Elementary school was spent writing many poems, coming to realizations regarding internal rhyming schemes, blank verse and how to add meaning to a poem by the way it's set out on the page. Economy of language came in along the way too, as did alliteration and rhythm. Writing poetry taught me a great deal about what can be done with language, how an emotional response from the reader can be elicited with very little in the way of verbiage.
I started in on stories when I was in what we called junior high school, grades 7 and 8. They were godawful, of course. I was a voracious reader and tended to finish a book a day (good eyes, fast reading speed). I had an early preference for books that explored personal development of the characters - Jane Eyre, To Kill a Mockingbird, Robinson Crusoe, golden age of science fiction short stories (my father had a massive collection of sci-fi pulp paperbacks). I wasn't much of one for action stories or hard science fiction - I loved the tales that went into a person's mind and let us be bewildered, frustrated and enlightened along with them. Through my intensive reading, I was picking up a great deal of information on just how to write.
Still, I can't say my adolescent prose was great. My poetry was far more mature, but once I made the transition to prose, I stuck to it, and haven't written a poem in forty years. Quite a few novels have gone the way of the dustbin as I learned, in my own way, how to write stories.
Weaving Man was the first novel I've written that I felt confident about publishing. I'm glad I waited, considering how far my style evolved from my first attempt at a short story (based very strongly on the 1931 Frankenstein movie, written at the age of eleven).
I've struggled for decades to have time to write - the necessity of making a living has always been, as for so many authors, the hurdle. Also, knowing my work is not mainstream and being unwilling to damage what I do to make it attractive to traditional publishers and agents, it wasn't until reliable, non-ripoff self=publishing came along, thanks to the Internet, that I was able to be heard.
Sometimes it all just clicks into place. Not to say there wasn't an enormous amount of hard work in putting Weaving Man on the market - I have read it so many times, in my rather organic style of writing, that I truly dread doing another edit, which it needs.
So, I've been writing for the better part of sixty years. It's been a long and often difficult ride, with a lot of pain and frustration during times where it was almost impossible for me to have time to put two words together. Only true inspiration could have survived some of those times. Hopefully, it shows in the books!