When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I always loved stories. When I was in about third grade someone told me there were only three kinds of stories. How could I grow up to be a writer if they'd all been written? I was afraid they'd all been used because I kept reading all these wonderful stories.
Years later, I learned the basic story conflicts: man vs. man; man vs. nature; and man vs. self and gave a sigh of relief. I wish I could say everything fell in place after that.
Of course, it didn't. Especially when my high school English teacher accused me of plagiarizing. She didn't believe me when I said I wrote the description she'd assigned as homework. My mom went in to talk to her. That's when I found out Mom had plenty of practice proving that I was doing my own homework. When I was in gradeschool she learned to save my first drafts so she could take them to my teachers. Poor Mom. I wasn't an easy kid to raise.
How long have you been writing for publication?
My youngest daughter doesn't remember a time when I wasn't writing. She's still my youngest daughter, but I'm a grandma now, so I guess I could say I've been writing forever.
Where do you get your ideas?
I inhale them. They're everywhere. The things I write start with something someone said or did, or a place that interests me, or feelings and relationships. Sorting through ideas and deciding which ones to play with is a challenge. Writing is a matter of taking this and that and letting it all come together to demonstrate an idea I want to show to readers.
What advice do you have for beginning writers?
If you want to write fiction, memorize a version of the sentence that describes the classic story pattern: An appealing character faces a conflict with physical and emotional aspects and struggles to overcome obstacles until a last final effort does the trick. The basic elements of satisfying fiction are these : A character the reader likes and cares about; an important conflict that the character faces and works to resolve, and a heroic effort to achieve success. The next time you read fiction of any length, look for those basic elements. You'll find them, even if the character's struggle leads him to realize he was wrong and go off in another direction.
If you want to write nonfiction, decide what you want your reader to understand when they're finished reading your article. Actually write that idea out and put it where you can see it. Then start your manuscript. Begin with a paragraph designed to make readers curious or interested in the subject you're writing about. Then let your readers know what you're going to explain. Next, provide information that supports your idea. End by restating the idea. Writing about something your readers will find interesting is also important.
That's the five-second explanation of writing fiction and nonfiction. I could say more, but I'm at the bottom of the page, so I'll stop.