Cristofer Gross [crisgross]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
The 'me' in the 'you' that repeats through these questions should be broken into two. Literally, I first read and wrote as a child, at home and in school, and was read by parents and teachers. What I read were adventure stories – Hardy Boys, Sherlock Holmes, Jules Verne. When 'I' became the 'me' that might interest you, I had been to college and developed an appreciation for good writing, and liked the classics, as well as biography. It took me awhile to write, however. I had jobs on publications, but not as a writer. Slowly, I began contributing articles, usually profiles and previews. A few years ago, after two decades as a theater publicist, I began writing criticism, which is what I enjoy doing now.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
I have a website where I post my theater reviews. It also contains some interviews, but they are strictly Q&A. www.theatertimes.org
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
First off, the 'creative' process of writing is only part of it. Regardless of the genre, some form of research takes up the first part of the writing process, prior to getting 'creative' – which is when I have to begin laying sentences down on paper (or the computer screen). Anything can happen before or during this time. (Catching up of housecleaning seems to get suddenly important when I want to avoid 'sentencing.')
I would compare the creative process to traversing a virgin field: a first draft may be marking a pretty direct trail across, but it is followed by rewriting that may feel more like wandering around, picking up this, picking up that, setting things aside and sometimes becoming so absorbed that you forget where your original exit had been. However, the greatest joy in writing is stumbling upon something that looks brilliant, feels deep, and sounds deceptively spontaneous.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
What most inspires me can also block me. Great fiction inspires me, but when it reaches a level of genius, it can be so humbling as to make me consider other vocations.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
All writing boils down to what you say and how you say it. Another maxim is working to say as much as possible, in terms of ideas and information, in as little as possible – fewer words, shorter read time. The better the writing, the more interesting the ideas, the more vital the information, and the more engaging the choice of words and propulsive the rhythm of sentence structure.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I like first or third person. The former immediately gives a sense of direct experience and involvement while third person establishes the promise of perspective and universality.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Off the top of my head, three writers who I vividly remember providing extraordinary experiences with their ideas, insight, poetics and bravery are Annie Proulx, William Styron and, of course, Shakespeare.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Reader feedback is wonderful, but a writer needs to be able to identify feedback that is more about the person giving it than the work, and be comfortable discarding that feedback as valueless.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
I would not share anything too rough or unformed. A reasonably mature draft is something I would share with a person whom I trust and whose opinion is useful, either as a consumer or a colleague.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I write on a computer and sometimes print out a draft when I feel I need to freeze something for perspective. A session in an armchair with a printed section can be illuminating. Drafts on computer, for me, can be too fluid.
What are you working on now?
I am working on reviewing play productions, writing blog 'thought pieces,' occasionally going back to a children's/young adult novel I once wrote, and writing pieces for magazines.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
It depends on what you think of those things. If you are proud of them, by all means show them. Or, if you are considering picking them up again and working on them, but need another perspective to decide if the germ of your intentions is alive in there, that is another good reason.
Lake Arrowhead, California