Gutsy Great Writers is a Mighty Network for novelists. Every week, they publish an interview with one of the members, answering 13 questions about themselves, why they write, what their process is, etc. Here is mine below.
- Let’s begin with your origin story. When did you first realize you wanted to write a novel? Was there a particular person or experience that inspired you?
I first realized I wanted to write a novel when I was in the 6th grade. My 6th grade English teacher kept on giving me high marks for creative writing. Plus I enjoyed it. So in the 6th grade I attempted to write my first novel. It was an adventure at sea. I didn’t finish it.
2. When do you make time to write?
First thing in the morning, before I get round to my day job.
3. Where do you do your best writing?
Generally in the public library close to my home, or in a coffee shop. But almost never at home.
4. Do you write from an outline or do you write to discover (by the seat-of-your-pants, or a “pantser” as they call it)? Why?
I do both. I write the end of the story first. Then after that I pants my way to the beginning of the story. I reverse engineer the story in a way, from the ending to the beginning.
5.What self-doubts, if any, have you experienced during the writing process and how did you overcome those doubts?
Many times I look at my sentences and think they’re absolutely terrible. Sometimes the discouragement beats me. Sometimes I beat it. When I do beat it, it’s due to prayer and to thinking that God isn’t interested in product, but in process.
6. When you think about your writing life, what accomplishment—small or large—are you most proud of, and why?
It would have to be finishing my first manuscript. I pantsed the first draft, and at 100,000 words, realized I didn’t have an ending. So I chucked it all away, and started again, reverse-pantsing from the end to the beginning. 90,000 words later, I had a completed manuscript. I don’t think I’ve ever pushed myself that far through anything that I was undertaking without any external impetus or encouragement whatsoever.
7.Have you published a novel yet? If so, talk about your experience of getting your novel(s) published and into the hands of readers.
I’ve only self-published. I’ve learnt that promotion (which I believe is the correct term, not really “publishing” but “promotion”) is a full-time job.
8. Who provides you with feedback on your work-in-progress? How did you choose that person (or those people) and what do you gain from connecting with them?
My writing buddy Cheryl S. Ntumy. She’s harsh and awesome at the same time. Sweetest person ever. I found her on the internet several years ago, reached out, and we’ve worked together since.
9. How have you gone about learning the craft of writing a novel? What have you done to learn what you needed to learn in order to get your novel done?
I’m a kinesthetic writer and learner. I learn by doing. I’ve learnt the craft of writing a novel by writing. I don’t get much from workshops and courses because I don’t really learn that way. I wish I did. I’d be much further than I am now. What I do is I pick up a book, scan through it to verify whether it’s snake oil or not, and if it’s not, I transform the book into a series of “exercises” that I then apply to my WIP.
10.What do you love to read? Name a few novels you’ve read that are your all-time favorites.
I love anything with an adventure strand. I recently read “Moby Dick”. It was my third attempt. My first two attempts, in my teens and in my twenties, failed. I think I was too young and foolish. But last year I read it and came to appreciate what a literary achievement that book is. In no particular order, my all-time favourites are:
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
11.Tell us one non-writing-related thing about yourself that not too many people know about you.
When getting dressed in the morning I play loud music off my iPad and dance around my room in my underwear. But first I make sure that the curtains are closed and that my webcams are all off! You never know who is controlling your webcam nowadays!
12.What advice or words of wisdom would you give to a writer who hasn’t yet finished a novel?
That work is important.
That work is important.
That work is really important.
13. What else would you like to share about your life as a writer?
It’s so nice to have a fan or two. Sometimes you go through life thinking, “This is all a waste of time.” Then someone leaves a positive review or sends a wonderful email saying they loved your book. Someone who doesn’t fall within the friends, family and fools circle. And you come away thinking, “Man, what if it isn’t a waste of time? What if it actually isn’t?” It’s the nicest feeling ever.