Today I have the distinct pleasure of chatting with Jamieson Wolf. I met Jamieson though the Muse Online Writers Conference (http://museonlineconference.tripod.com/) last year and I can’t believe all this guy does. He is truly an inspiration to his fellow writers. Jamieson has many books to his credit—fiction and non-fiction—and he maintains numerous blogs for his many novels, book reviews, author interviews, and so much more. He also has written several articles for The American Chronicle (http://www.americanchronicle.com/AMchronDefault.asp). With so much going on in his world, it was hard to decide what we should talk about, but I figured I would stick to the craft of writing and his wonderful eBook Write Now! Exercises for the Aspiring Writer. Stick with us to the end and you’ll find out about a great contest where you’ll have the chance to win one of Jamieson’s books.*
Wow! After all that, welcome to my blog Jamieson. It’s great to have you here!
Thanks Cheryl! It’s great to be here. It’s funny you call me an inspiration when that is how I think of you! I’ve been looking forward to this chat for a while!
Let’s talk about you for a minute. What can you tell us about yourself? How long have you been writing? What inspired you to become a writer?
Well, what would you like to know? Personal stuff first, I guess. I just celebrated my one year wedding anniversary. I read constantly (sometimes two or three books at a time) and write all the time too. I love Harry Potter and am anxiously awaiting and dreading the last book.
As for writing, the simple answer is that I’ve always been a writer, I just didn’t know it. I was always filling journals with stories or notations. I just didn’t realize that I was writing, or planting the seeds of what was to come.
For years I thought I wanted to be an actor. Turns out I loved the acting but not the people. I have no tolerance for twofaced people and theatre is full of them. So I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for a while. I had trained my whole life to be an actor and now I was adrift.
To while away the time, I started writing short stories. It helped me deal with walking away from acting and gave me another creative outlet. It wasn’t until someone read some of my scribbles and told me they were good that the idea of writing popped into my head.
I had always thought of my writing poetry and short stories as a pastime, as a hobby. I remember that day well because it was the day that it occurred to me that I could make a living writing. It was a powerful moment.
What is your writing process like? Do you write every day? Are you more productive during a certain time of the day?
You know, I usually ask this question in interviews too because I’m curious how it is for other people. I don’t tend to have a real writing process. Much like everything else I do, I’m kind of scattered all over the place.
I do write every single day. I don’t have any particular time of day where I’m more productive, but I tend to get great chunks of writing done on the weekends. I work full-time as well as doing all my writing and blogs, so I usually write early in the morning and after work during the week and then for most of Saturday.
But I can write any time, really. I always have a journal with me in my bag at all times because you never know when the Muses will strike you down with an idea. I hate when I have no paper when a line or a snippet of conversation pops into my head.
Having known you for a little while now, you always seem to have a million things in the hopper at one time. How do you juggle them all?
The simple answer to that is: I have no idea. I tend to focus on my blogs during the day and work on my current work in progress (right now I’m writing a memoir titled One Step at a Time for The Friday Project) during the evenings and weekends. But sometimes I just have to focus and push through to make sure I catch everything.
The blogs take up a lot of my time so there are some days where, if entries are piling up, I put aside my work in progress and just plow through. I find it’s all about balancing what needs to be done now with what can be done later.
I would have to say that Stephen King inspired me to write it. I had read his memoir on the craft, ON WRITING, and it was fantastic. It was a very private look into where ideas for some of King’s work came from and his guidelines on how to write.
But I found it was lacking. There are tons of writing books out there that tell you how to write but they don’t SHOW you. I also find that most writing books place a large importance on grammar, punctuation, etc. While those are important elements, I find that it’s learning where to start that is most important.
I had written a book before WRITE NOW called THE MUSE: Learning to Write from Inspiration that talked about the Muses and how we are all inspired to write. The book was geared towards anyone who wrote or wanted to write and needed the inspiration to do so.
But it got me thinking. What if someone already had the inspiration to write, what if they already had that drive inside them, and didn’t know how? I wanted to write a book along the same lines as The Muse but a bit more simple and a lot more fun. I wanted to take the focus off of inspiration and look at the writing itself.
There are so many books out there about the craft of writing. What is unique about this one?
Like I said above, there are tons of writing books out there that tell you how to write but they don’t SHOW you. They always TELL you how to write, giving you detailed explanations about how a writer should do this, why a writer should do that. But then there are no examples.
I wanted WRITE NOW! to be different, so I resolved to use examples from my own writing so readers and writers would know they were on the right track and have a visual that they can refer to.
I felt it was important to use my own writing as examples because it’s one thing for me to tell people what to do but it’s a whole other kettle of fish if I SHOW them.
The Write Now! Website says this book includes everything a person would need to know to get her writing career started. You included chapters on description, setting, character, plot and more. How did you go about selecting which subjects you would cover?
This was actually a tricky process. I wanted to make sure that the book remained simple but would be a natural progression. I wanted it to have a starting point and then build from there so that writers would use what they learned in an earlier exercise in a later one.
It took some fiddling around but I got it shaved down to the bare basics. I needed WRITE NOW! to be simple and fun but I wanted it to have everything a writer could need to learn in order to write.
One particular topic caught my eye--fan fiction. It has been my experience that this type of writing is very controversial. Some writers think it’s great, while others think it’s a waste of time. Why did you feel the need to cover fan fiction?
Well, fan fiction is how I started writing stuff other than poetry. I figured it was easier to write something if I didn’t have to imagine everything (characters, setting, etc) when it was already there.
Later, I realized that fan fiction was limiting and I started creating my own worlds, my own characters. But it’s a great starting place for those who want to write but don’t know how to go about picking out a setting, characters, etc. It gets them writing, which is the most important thing, and they don’t have to worry about the other stuff.
While controversial, fan fiction is a great escape. It lets you play around in someone else’s playground. It’s great fun when you want to write but you’re experiencing writers block. It helps rev up the imagination and is just plain fun.
Now, of course, it’s better to write your own stuff, but fan fiction should be looked at as play writing. But it’s all about putting your pen to the paper, right?
So, tell us, how can you order Write Now! Exercises for the Aspiring Writer?
I know you have many books out there for fans to read, but it looks like you’ve got a lot going on in the next few months too. What do your fans and fellow writers have to look forward to?
I sure do! I’ve got three more novels coming out later this year from Write Words Inc (a trilogy of novels called Hope Falls, Eagle Valley and Dragons Coe), as well as a memoir coming out in early 2008. Aside from that, I’m working on a book of articles, a book of essays on Stephen King's Dark Tower Series as well as a book of short stories. No rest for the wicked, right?
Anything else you would like to share?
Just the most important piece of writing advice you’ll ever hear: Write every day and read everything you can. You can’t learn to write without practice and you can’t write well without reading.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today Jamieson. I loved being able to pick the brain of the master.
Master? LOL Hardly. I just love what I do. Thanks for having me here Cheryl, you’re always a pleasure to talk to!
Note: I really could have asked Jamieson at least a dozen more questions, but he’ll be back in July and August to talk to me about two more of his books The Ghost Mirror and HUNTED. So, here is your reward for reading the entire interview. Jamieson has agreed to give away free copies of three of his books. Just click on this link http://want-to-write-now.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/description.pdf and perform the exercise. Email your favorite description to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for entering is midnight on Sunday, June 24, 2007. Jamieson and I will select three winners. First Place will get a copy of Write Now!. Second Place receives a copy of The Ghost Mirror and the Third Place winner gets a copy of HUNTED. But to be honest, you’re all winners if you take the time perform that exercise because it might just be the first step you’ll take towards becoming a writer.