Jeff Dean [jeffdean]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
I was born in 1961, so being a young child in the sixties, I read alot of the basic elementary story books in school, and then later learned of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn and really got into the writings and story telling of Mark Twain. I loved stories of common kids my age and the adventures we as boys always seemed to get ourselves into. It was around age 12 that I first realized my desire to write and create my own stories, I just felt the desire inside of me and as a result took out a pen and some paper and began to write. The first people to read my writings were of course my parents, then I would take my stories often and read them to my friends in our makeshift forts and club houses. I had alot of fun telling the stories to my friends and watching them take interest in the words that I wrote.
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 like most all genres of writing now. I write short stories of my life growing up as a child through to my teenage years and even my adult life. I write short stories, patriot poetry and even song lyrics. I also write as a columnist for a couple of local newspapers in the area. I do not yet have a website where I post alot of my writing online. However, I do have an online journal that I have recently created, where I post some of my opinion columns, I intend to expand it soon to include some of my literary work as well. The name of the journal is: Polished Words From An Unpolished Man. Here's the link to it.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Before I sit down and begin to write, the idea rambles around in my mind for a few hours, sometimes even a few days before I decide which way I want to go with it. When I come to that conclusion in my mind of where I want the story to go, I sit down and begin to write and the story just seems to flow through me out into written words.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
I don't think that I am really inspired to write now by what I read, with the exception of my Opinion Columns. What mainly inspires me to write my literary pieces instead is what I see and what I know is going on, what I remember from growing up. I am inspired by the way things should be, and the way things are. Simple things in life inspire me as well. I may be taking a walk through the woods or hunting in the woods and come across a huge tree that I know by the size of it, is hundreds of years old. I may look at the tree and ponder it for awhile, thinking of all of the things that tree has stood and watched take place around it. In my area there was alot of Civil War activity, and as I stand there looking at the tree, I may be thinking about how that tree stood there as thousands of soldiers marched by it, fought around it, how it may hold within it's bark lead bullets fired in anger during the war. A war that took place one hundred years before my life was even considered.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
I think the basic ingredients to any story, is for the writer to consider the audience he or she is writing for in the first place. Not every story will be enjoyed by every reader. Each reader has their own interests in certain stories they read, in most cases a reader likes a story that they can relate to in one way or another. That is what I think a writer must consider when he or she sits down to write their story, consider the audience you want to reach and touch. They will be people much like yourself. Then begin writing what you want them to know, lead them word by word to where you want them to be. If you write with this in mind, I believe that when your reader reaches that final page in your story, they will close the book satisfied, and you will have finished a story that you will be proud of and happy with, because you have touched your reader with your own words.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I tend to lean towards the first person voice.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Mark Twain, Hewitt Clark and several more
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
I believe that for a character to be believable, the character must be simple and understandable, the character can have some complication, but not too complicated the reader will likely lose touch with the character if so. I like to just keep the character simple and common in most of my writing and lead the reader through the character's life struggles and joys.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
I have been told I am.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
Deep down inside, I write for myself, I have feelings of certain topics and situations, and I have a need within me to bring those situations and feelings out in a story for others to see and comprehend.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Writing can by all means be a form of personal therapy. For anyone who has suffered tragic events in their lives or even super joyous events in their lives, writing is a way to express it. Internal conflicts are a very creative force, for every writer that is writing a story that is driven by his or her own personal conflicts, they have countless readers out there that can relate to their stories, and some of the best stories in my opinion have been written out of the writer's own personal conflicts, situations and experiences.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Reader feedback indeed helps me tremendously, reader feedback is an invaluable tool that lets me know for sure, if in writing my story if I succeeded in getting the real meaning of the story told in a comprehendable detail. It lets me know where I need to focus my work on and where I am doing better at. I think without it, we'd all just be writing aimlessly.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
I have at times competed in competitions and have recieved some awards for my writing. But no award is better than having a reader tell me themselves how much they enjoyed my story or how much they were touched by it. That award is a writer's ultimate goal, and their ultimate award.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
I certainly do share rough drafts of stories I am working on, and I share ideas of stories I plan to write with others as well. I share them especially if I come to a point in a story where I may have in my head 2 or 3 options of which way I might want the story to turn, the feedback helps me keep the story on track.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I believe as a writer, with all writers, that we find a voice we get comfortable with, but in the literary reality of what we do, we are always in search of that higher plain, that stronger voice. I believe when a writer becomes satisfied with where he or she is literally, then they are basically finished with writing, if you get satisfied with where you are as a writer, it is likely that your talents will tarnish and grow stale not to mention repetitive. So my answer is I am in a comfortable voice at the moment, but as always in the next story I write, I will be looking for that next level of voice just above the voice of the previous story always.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
When writing an opinion column, I have shedules and limits I must meet and follow. But when writing my own stories, I set no real schedules and goals, except that when I become tired, that I get up and walk away from the story, so not to push myself to reach an ending, to me that is the death of any story to be seeking the ending as you are writing it.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
I surround myself with photographs, and other items related to the story or the era of the story to help keep me focused on where I want the story to go.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I do most of my writing on the computer and print it as needed. However I do carry a pen and notepad everywhere I go, so if I am off somewhere away from the computer and an idea for a story hits me, I can jot down the idea and intention of the story to have and look back upon when I am able to sit down and write.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
I don't really frequent alot of websites online for writing, although I do sometimes visit Gather.com and Scribe & Quill. I share most of my experiences and information with fellow writers that I know and friends that I can trust to give me an honest opinion be it good or bad.
What has been your experience with publishers?
I've had some good luck with publishers and some bad luck with them. Unfortunately in the literary world, it seems that there alot of publishers and agents out there that misrepresent themselves all in an effort to take advantage of writers for their own monetary gain. It's a tough world out there in the business of writing and seeking representation, so I always proceed with caution.
What are you working on now?
Right now I am working on a story titled; "Cold Roses" a story about a young soldier in the Civil War who just happened to be my Great-Great-Granfather and the young wife he left at home alone when he went off to fight for the Confederacy.
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?
I advise you to get them out of that chest or box and dust them off and show them to people you trust to give you their honest opinion. These things meant something to you or you would not have taken the time to have written them down. The best stories come from the writer's heart and true emotions, so it is quite possible that some of your best work is among those stories you have tucked away there from years ago, so get them out and let them be read and felt.
Meridian, Mississippi U.S.A