LisaS: I see myself as stagnating. I know there are authors who find their "schtick" and can go for years on it. I think of greats like Mary Higgins Clark, Agatha Christie. But I just can't sit still. I need to really push myself and want to grow.
BradW: I like that idea. What do you think an MFA has to offer you?
LisaS: A wider picture. I've never learned the possibilities of writing. What I've got I've learned on my own by trial and error. I need to look outside myself in the writing world.
BradW: How many books on writing have you read so far?
LisaS: Two. I think. I can only think of one, but I'm giving myself the benefit of the doubt! It's called “Making Shapely Fiction,” by Jerome Stern. Is that pathetic or is that pathetic?
BradW: Oh wow! Two? I wish I had achieved my level of writing by sheer talent like you seem to have. I'm at the other extreme. I've read dozens of books on writing. In the last 6 months I've probably read 4 or 5. You didn't read “Bird by Bird?”
LisaS: Nope. I did read “Traveling Mercies,” though. Does that count?
BradW: I won't tell anybody you said that. You'll be stoned.
LisaS: Oh tell them. It cracks me up the way Anne Lamott. She is so revered. She's pro-Democrat, pro-choice, pro-homosexuality, and the Evangelicals lap her up. It's pretty amazing. And yet I can hardly get away with the word "crap."
BradW: Hell no you can't! I read “Bird by Bird” this year, finally. Heard so much about it, I had to find out what the hype was about.
LisaS: What did you think of the book, by the way?
BradW: “Bird by Bird” is a good book, but it wasn't for me. I'm not as neurotic as she is. But it has good advice for neurotic, conflicted writers.
LisaS: Yeah. I've always thought myself pretty neurotic, but she sometimes makes me scratch my head. But I am glad she's been accepted by the Evangelical community. It's a good thing.
BradW: On the book signing tour for “Welcome to Fred,” my editor and Rick Lewis, the Logos Bookstore owner in Dallas, were talking about Anne and I had no clue who she was. They just stared at me. So, finally 3 years later, I read the book. I'm a busy guy. It takes me awhile to get around to things.
LisaS: Me too. Only I'm a gal.
BradW: So I hear. Speaking of which, I have a pet peeve to share.
LisaS: Oh cool.
BradW: I keep hearing wannabe writers talking about "putting butt in chair” and “putting in the time at the keyboard" like it's some chore. What's up with that?
LisaS: Oh, it's a major chore for me! Sometimes I hate writing with a passion! I think, “Fotomat's got to be better than this!” (Are there Fotomats any more?)
BradW: Ha! Not my perspective at all. When I read those things, I think, "If you don't like writing, then don't do it! There are plenty of us who like to put our fat butts in that chair and write away. If it's such a chore, then why bother?"
LisaS: It's like Flannery O'Connor said. "Because I'm good at it." (Not that I'm a Flannery, by golly!)
LisaS: You're lucky. What's it like to be a writer that loves to write?
BradW: It is wonderful to be a writer who loves to write! It would be even better if this bothersome day job didn't keep me from doing it more!
LisaS: And it really does beat the 9-5 at an office.
BradW: Well, I have both.
LisaS: Lucky you, eh?
BradW: Actually, I don't, because my day job is waaay more than 9 to 5.
LisaS: I know. For the reading audience's benefit: you're in Singapore right now, right?
BradW: Yep. I have a 7am flight tomorrow. Which means a 4am cab ride.
LisaS: Oh good grief. What time will you get home?
BradW: Tomorrow I'm flying to Tokyo. I'll be there 2 days, and then I'll fly back to Honolulu. Let me tell you my travel schedule the last 9 weeks.
LisaS: Please do!
BradW: 1. Portland, OR. 2. Boston, MA. 3. Honolulu, HI (home). 4. Madrid, Spain. 5. Paris, France / Munich, Germany. 6. Geneva, Switzerland. 7. Honolulu, HI. 8. Taipei, Taiwan. 9. Singapore / Tokyo, Japan. Then I get to go home for a week or two.
BradW: Very little writing done in the last 2 months.
LisaS: I'll bet.
BradW: But lots of research.
LisaS: And that sure counts!
BradW: How much do you have to work at time management when you're on a deadline?
LisaS: Nowadays, I just have to carve out the time and stick to it. And I get this real pushy feeling in my stomach that just has to finish because I'm so sick of the project. I think, "Get this thing offa my plate, I can't stand looking at it anymore!"
BradW: Not because of the deadline, but because you get weary of the project?
LisaS: Well, funny thing. Usually the two coincide. Must be a deep psychological response!
LisaS: How about you?
BradW: I like writing and I like editing, so I don't really get sick of it. But once I feel like I'm done, then I'm done. At that point I want to put the bow on it, call it finished and move on.
LisaS: Amen. I love starting a new project.
BradW: Speaking of new projects, I see you have a full plate ahead of you. What's up with that over commitment thing?
Conclusion Tomorrow, followed by a review of Robert Liparulo's, Comes a Horseman (and discussion).