Confessions of a Writer.

I was tagged in this interview series by the always lovely Annelisa. So here is a blog post in which i answer some questions about writing and me.

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?
I started writing stories when I was in primary school (most of which I never finished) and I wrote a lot of poetry in my teens (most of it terrible), but I didn’t have any particular aspirations to be a writer when I was young. In primary school I wanted to be a jet fighter pilot and by the time I finished high school I was actively pursuing a career as an actor or a rock star. My lack of red carpet appearances and worldwide smash hit singles will probably tell you that neither of those panned out for me.
It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I realised that I wanted to be a writer. I started writing as part of a therapy exercise and it expanded from there and became the start of the novel that I am working on now. My wife at the time was very supportive and sent some inquiries to every lit agent or publishing person she could find and we got some very positive responses.

Life got in the way and I gave it up to get a real job and try being responsible and stuff until about a year ago when I realised that I have always been a writer, whether I thought of myself as one or not and that it was what I wanted to do. At which point I picked it all up again and decided that I was going to make something of this writing thing if I possibly could. At the very least I didn’t want to regret not having given it my utmost.

What genre do you write?

Most of what I write falls under the Literary Fiction tag. Technically also Non-Genre Modern Fiction, but that sounds incredibly beige and boring. I also branch into speculative fiction sometimes.

Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?

My major WIP is a novel currently titled ‘Coming Clean’. Its central character is a young man who is a heroin addict and general avoider of responsibility that discovers he is going to be a father. It follows his journey through breaking out of the addiction cycle and coming to terms with impending fatherhood. It is the novel that I mentioned in my first answer, so I officially started writing it about 15 years ago now.
What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?

The first piece that I can remember writing was in 3rd or 4th class and it was a story about my friends and I. We went on a camping trip and ended up foiling an evil genius with an army of robot sharks.

What’s the best part about writing?

Having written.
Being ‘in the zone’ where words just flow out of you and the rest of the world around you ceases to matter.
Less people question my coffee and cigarette intake or weird sleep cycle.

What’s the worst part about writing?

Not being in the above mentioned zone.
Those times when you look at your work and think it’s all crap.
People who think writing is a) easy b) just a little hobby that I have.

What’s the name of your favourite character and why?

I don’t love any of my characters more than the others, I just love them all differently.

How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?

Umm…yes. It varies wildly, and I’ve never really kept track of it. I’m a single parent of three children so a lot of my writing time is in blocks of an hour or so that I manage to grab as well as the occasional all night writing binge.
The best time for me to write is late at night when the kids are in bed. Plus I am a night person in general and I find my creative mind is generally more active at those kind of times. 1am to 3am is usually my sweet spot.

Did you go to college for writing?

No. My writing education consists of having always been a reader and reading many, many interviews with writers. Early on I had a mentor of sorts. A family friend that was a scriptwriter and generally Literary minded, he pointed me in the direction of The Paris Review among other things.

What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors or grammar errors?

It depends on the circumstances.

What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?

Me personally –

“You should. The world needs writers” which is what my Father said to me when I first told him that I wanted to be a writer.
“Once you think your story is finished. Get someone else to look at it for you” – Kevin Ansbro
I’m also just going to throw some quotes out here that I’ve found helpful:

“Remember that the first draft is just you telling the story to yourself” – Terry Pratchett
“Write hard and clear about what hurts” – Hemingway
“Write drunk, edit sober” – Hemingway
John Steinbeck also wrote a wonderful letter of writing advice to a friend’s niece that I have always found helpful. Here if you’re interested.

What advice would you give to another writer?

Just grit your teeth and write, get it out of your head, judge it later.

What are your favourite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?
Um. Nowhere specific mostly. To be honest I have found most of that kind of advice and support though the writing community on Twitter that I have gotten to know over the last year. I’ve gotten to know some of them quite well and would happily meet many of them for a coffee, drink or debauched weekend of questionable decisions and excessive consumption (remember, bad decisions make good stories).

Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?

I still play music, I write and record songs from time to time, just for my own amusement these days. I dabble in visual arts, collage and painting. I have the occasional binge on computer games and I run a Tabletop Roleplaying game group that meets online once a week.
I also enjoy long walks on the beach and staring bleakly into the void.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

Kinnara by Kevin Ansbro (but if he asks tell him I said something else or he’ll get a big head). No, really, it’s a fantastic book.

What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?

Neil Blomkamp’s Chappie. One of the things that I love about it is the characters of Ninja and Yolandi. Because I went from finding them really distasteful characters initially to genuinely caring about their story by the end of the movie, despite them still being basically the same people which is no small feat of storytelling.

What is your favourite book or series of all time?

Sorry, can’t narrow it down to just one. How about my top five?
On the Road – Jack Kerouac
Small Gods – Terry Pratchett
Neuromancer – William Gibson
Candide – Voltaire
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

Who is your favourite author?
Didn’t I basically just answer this with the last question?

What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?

Basically just to keep going and finish the first draft of this novel I’m working on. I also plan to submit some short fiction that I have written to as many places I can think of in the hope of having some of it published.

Where else can we find you online?

Other than this blog I can be found on Twitter @out_ofthe_fog , come say hi if you haven’t already. I also have a G+ profile that I do nothing with, doesn’t everybody?

To keep the ball rolling i would like to tag the following:

@RomeoRites

@ShunterNi

@mariellahunt

@cathleentowns

@lucyfacewrites

For the benefit of those tagged, the interview questions are below.

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?
What genre do you write?
Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?
What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?
What’s the best part about writing?
What’s the worst part about writing?
What’s the name of your favourite character and why?
How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?
Did you go to college for writing?
What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors or grammar errors?
What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?
What advice would you give to another writer?
What are your favourite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?
Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?
What is your favourite book or series of all time?
Who is your favourite author?
What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?
Where else can we find you online?

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11 comments on “Confessions of a Writer.

  1. “I also enjoy long walks on the beach and staring bleakly into the void.” – Hahahaha, please put that in an online dating profile or something. Best line ever.

    This post was great to read, thanks for sharing your answers!

    p.s. I love Small Gods too. It was my first Pratchett book. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. erinszoo says:

    Enjoyed the read. I hadn’t had time to sit and read others responses either until today. I share your frustration with other people who think writing is “just a little hobby that I have”. One of my best friends, who isn’t a writer, said that to me over the weekend. Ugh. Told me I needed a “real” job. Um, yeah, okay, whatever.

    I like how you put this: “debauched weekend of questionable decisions and excessive consumption (remember, bad decisions make good stories)” While I don’t normally pursue the excessive consumption part, I think I have the questionable decisions down to a science. And yes, they do make for some good stories later on. Still hoping my kids don’t read those ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay, Tarquin–I’ll pick it up. 🙂 But it’s not getting posted for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Annelisa says:

    I completely empathise with your difficulty finding time to write with three children, Tarquin. I stopped writing all together for a long time, it was so exhausting. So, kudos to you for your utter perseverence. I’d be delighted to read it when you’ve finished.
    Curious about the film, Chappie. I’ve never even heard of it before. I’ll pu’t it on my ‘must watch’ list 🙂
    So, do you live right on the beach? That would be so cool. It’s one thing I keep thinking about (though I’d want forests in the other direction…)
    Thanks for doing the challenge, Tarquin. I feel I know you just a tiny bit better now, and am better for doing so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, it was kind of fun to do, also kind of difficult for some questions, lol.
      Being a single parent and finding the time to do anything else can be a challenge as i’m sure you know. I find the time somehow. But it does mean i tend not to have much of a regular writing schedule.
      We don’t live right on the beach anymore, closest one is about half hour drive away now since we moved slightly inland at the beginning of the year. Not that i ever went there much anyway, lol. I prefer beaches as scenery, they’re kind of messy and annoying in practice (all that wind and sand) and from living near a beach i can attest that the salt air does horrible things to windows and makes cars rust really quickly.
      Ideally i’d like a house that was up in the hills where i had a view of the ocean. That would be lovely.

      I feel a bit guilty that i’ve done this, but haven’t had the time to sit down and read others responses properly, have been all over the place the last few days organising last minute things for my daughters trip.

      Like

      • Annelisa says:

        In that case (that you were busy readying your daughter for her trip) it’s all the more lovely that you took the time to write this post! I’m sure you’ll find time to read other responses when you’re less busy 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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