Some Little Questions

Yes, I titled that after an old favorite Strong Bad email episode. Enjoy.

Masha, being over-busy this week, gave us a few short questions to work with, suggesting writers who read the blogalectic also feel free to answer (which you're welcome to do on your own blogs or in the comments. Do pop into the combox and link to yourself if you answer on your own blog. I'd love the chance to read it.)

These are important questions, but also the sort of thing that every writer kind of knows about themselves. It's so subconscious, of course, that it's perfectly possible to forget something in any given Q&A session, but I'll do my best.

When do you do most of your writing?

That depends on what you mean by writing. Most of my blog prep is done in mornings and on weekends. Fiction writing tends to happen in the afternoons and evenings, particularly late evenings, and I'll often work well into the night. I prefer to get deadline-driven projects, whether or not they involve writing, out of the way early in the day.

What encourages you?

Affirmation. :) But since Masha's answers suggest that she's primarily referring to things that encourage us to get writing and keep writing:

Coffee. Music that relates well to story, like Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade or Holst's Planets or various music from video games, movies, some operas and oratorios, etc. Reading a book that's so beautifully written that at the end, all I can do is think "I have to write like this, now."

What distracts you from your work?

"The Internet" sounded like a cop-out answer, or at least a Captain Obvious one, so:

Exhaustion. Disagreeable politics popping up in Facebook or Google Reader. Suspenseful books that I haven't finished reading. Wanting everything else done first.

What is your purpose in writing?

I like Masha's answer, wherein she states that she's "always trying to create and promote a culture of beauty". That's a lot less dull than my own answer, which is something like "...it's just what I do."

What authors inspire your choice of theme and direction?

This question could have a blog post all to its excellent little self. The short explanation: C.S. Lewis, for light; J.R.R. Tolkien, for subtlety and glory; J.K. Rowling, for the cardinal virtues; Orson Scott Card, for wisdom and humanity; Jane Austen, for humanity and humor; Robert Jordan, for the details.

What authors inspire you stylistically?

Again, in short: Lewis, for his combination of artistry and simplicity; Orson Scott Card, for his empathy; Jane Austen, for the wit in her every turn of phrase; G.K. Chesterton, for his sheer joy in the making of English prose. That's the first tier. The second tier includes Shannon Hale's evocative descriptions, some of Robin McKinley's otherworldly phrasing, Neil Gaiman's polished clarity, Lucy Maud Montgomery's poetic sense of place, Charlotte Brontë's liminality, and plenty of others.

Notice that I haven't suggested that I equal any of these people. But they're the proverbial stars I'm shooting for.

What is one thing you wish you could accomplish as a writer?

The same thing that my favorite books have done for me. Success, for me, comes any time someone reads my work and finds a little happiness, a little inspiration, some new growth or understanding.


  1. I almost said "um, to because I like to" in response to the purpose question, but I thought it would be better not to. :)

    And I almost did just lift the inspiration questions out and use them instead of all the questions, but I decided to take the easy way out. Lazy me.

    I LOVE your answer to Success. :)

  2. Hmm, kind of a mixed bag as you neither mentioned Maia as an encouragement nor a distraction.

    But you did mention names like Lewis, Tolkien, Rowling, & Hale, so it's all good. Plus, I too really like your definition of success. Oh, and Chesterton too! :)

  3. Masha, I totally understand about the easy way out. :D I was up for a few simple questions instead of a great deep one myself this week.

    George, hmmm. Maia tends to spend a lot of my writing hours off sleeping somewhere. She gets more active when we're moving about the house. But she is distracting when she's determined to sleep on my lap but only on her terms, or when she's meowing at the laundry room door, or when I can hear her getting into stuff in another room. :P

    As for the inspiring authors, we do share a lot of favorites, don't we? After all, they're awesome.

  4. I too like your definition of success. As a columnist my main goal has always been to do good, provoke thought, give people something to smile about, and to have a positive impact on my community. I'm lucky enough to know, by the responses I get--immediate reward--that they're successful by those measures. But even so, column-writing is exacting, I'm a perfectionist, and I sometimes feel the wrangling is just too much.

    To write fiction, or anything that's in the realm of literature, well, I'm amazed by that--the dedication it takes, the toiling unappreciated for years, working and reworking, without knowing whether your labor of love and time will be published, much less embraced. My admiration and respect knows no bounds.


    1. Novel-writing is a rather masochistic work. :)

      But yeah, I know what you mean about column-writing. It's taken me three years of regular blogging to break past most of the wrangling perfectionism, and even now I default back to that if I'm unusually tired or stressed. Any regular, deadline-based writing is a challenge and no two ways about it, so cheers for sticking with it!


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