Andrew Joseph [mreman47]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
What did I first read? Hmmm, a question that challenges the memory! let's say the first book I read on my own was: The Little Engine That Could.
I began to write in Grade 11 - a teacher asked us to create five short stories to be done in a month. I cheated and stole five stories from comic books from the 1950s figuring they were professionally published stories that no one 25 years later would ever know about. I copied and submitted them two days later. While I was NOT caught cheating, the teacher thought the stories were a load of crap and asked if I'd like to try again, as I still had 28 more days to complete the task. So I did. Five short stories written by myself. 10 out of 10. From that, my English teacher passed along my stories to other teachers at the school - and from that, they all learned I wasn't a bad student, just merely a disinterested one. Those other teachers remarked to me later that my writing changed their mind about me - that I could be taught. I never showed my work to my parents or friends, so only the teachers read it.
While I wrote essays and worked as a journalist for a major Toronto daily, I never wrote fiction again until I was 25 and living and teaching in Japan.
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?
Comedy is my favourite genre, though I might actually be a better drama writer.
A blog--It's A Wonderful Rife - about my three years in Japan may be found at: www.wonderfulrife.blogspot.com
I poke fun at the Japanese and their way of living while doing the same to myself and Western culture. I try to inform via the blog.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Other writers will hate me for this, but there is NO creative process for me.
I sit down either with a pen and paper, or at a keyboard and computer and start typing. It's not automatic writing as such.... an idea will pop into my head and I run with it.
What happens before I sit down to write - whatever it is that I am doing. I can switch gears from writing a letter to doing work to writing a short story simply by setting a time limit for me to begin or end things. Of course, if I am on a roll when writing, I will continue past a self-imposed deadline.
I often will write a comedic story for 30 minutes, switch to my blog for 30 minutes, do writing for work for an hour, write a letter, and then write a comic book story. I switch off and on with ease.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
How to books inspire me to write. For example, a book describing how to become a better fiction writer will get me to try new techniques.
History books can inspire - but I'm a visual person and while I have a vivid imagination, seeing an odd object will set my creative juices flowing.
Odd photos and the National Geographic will also work.
Reading comic books inspires me to write - especially poorly written ones, because I KNOW I can do better.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
Interesting characters doing interesting things. The location need not matter. Sometimes location matters more than anything else - but since I am weak with description, I prefer character-driven stories when creating.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I actually prefer the first-person voice. Although, as an experiment, I wrote a four chapter short story with each chapter highlighting a separate character in a separate voice - yet all relating to a commonality between each other.
FOURTH person voice? I don't know what to call it. I had two characters discussing a third character, who happened to be the crux of the story - we hear his tale through a conversation between the two.
Second person - after reading Bright Lights Big City (written in the second person), I tried it out with one of these chapters of my story - actually, each of the four chapters were originally four individual stories... I made them into a larger story, and then expanded it to 28 chapters.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Terry Pratchett (Discworld series)
Paul Doherty (Hugh Corbett series)
Stan Lee (Marvel Comics)
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
Characters become believable if they sound like they are from the place you say they are from.
Research dialects, verbage and locale to ensure characters sound like they should.
Unless you are playing a character up for laughs, your young, white male suburbanite should not should sound like a ghetto lifer. There is nothing wrong with the way a ghetto lifer speaks per se, but it probably conveys a completely different image to the reader that that what you had in mind.
Create a character: create a Bible. Start with sex, colour, height, weight, build, scars, tats, social status, education, clothing, where they live, eat, play - you have to figure out who your character is and what they are about. When putting a voice to it, you need to take into consideration their environment. What makes them who they are.
Watch REAL people - listen to then and observe how thy interact with the world.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
I am a pretty good oral story teller - since I dislike bogging stories down with too much description. I can also do voices and facial expressions that will add to my oral tale.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
I write for me. I get the stories out from inside of me - and even if no one ever reads it, well at least it's there. I'll have no regrets about never having written that story I wanted to write like so many others.
Personally, I hope others will read my writing and enjoy it - and while I do write for myself, as long as ONE other person reads it, then I achieve satisfaction. No ego here.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Writing is a form of personal therapy for some. I just like to tell people stories. I like to be heard. Hmmm, maybe it is therapy. I know that I don't want to die and not ever have anyone remember me. Sure my kid will, but then what... 50 years after I die, no one will care... but with a story - either printed or on-line (barring an EMF pulse from a nuclear explosion) - my stories can be around for someone to come across one day - even if it's 200 years from now... and then I'll live again.
Are Internal conflicts a creative force? - Yes, for some people. But it's total BS to believe that you need your own angst to be a writer. I had a normal childhood. My parents loved me, I loved them. I got what I wanted. I'm a decent person. Not rich, not poor. I love my wife and son. I work 9-5 and make enough money to survive, but not enough to get rich or take a vacation. Kindda average, huh? It doesn't make me bitter. It doesn't make me sad, angry, happy or glad. It makes me. I'm a very creative person even though I lack internal conflict. Or I'm deluding myself and this delusion fires my creative juices. It's all about perspective, isn't it?
Does reader feed-back help you?
Always. It lets ME know that at least some person read it!
If the feedback is negative, agree or disagree. The important thing is to see the other persons point of view.
Consider this: Every opinion is correct because it's a person's OPINION - even idf that person could be wrong.
Example: 'Meat is murder' says a vegetarian. That's what the vegetarian believes, and their belief is correct to them - even if others think they are wrong.
If someone is criticizing your writing? So what? Learn from it.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
Nope. That's not what I write for. I write for myself and at least one other person. Awards are nice for bragging rights - and all writers like to brag, but at this point and time, I have not tried to enter any contests.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
No. In fact, I have tried to do so, but people tend not to like reading MY drafts - wanting to read the product when it's finished and spelled properly.
I write, read and re-read and fix my mistakes. I don't write draft after draft and fret over every single word. I'm not Bill Shakespeare or Hemmingway.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
Voices change with maturity. Since I write in the first person, I have found my voice, but it's different from 20 years ago.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
The only discipline I set for myself is to finish EVERY single story I begin. Even if it sucks, finish it and learn from it.
If you are given a deadline, don't miss it.
Know your strengths and weaknesses - I'm strong w/conversations and weak with description. I won't write like Stephen King and describe a wall for 4 pages, because not only is that not my voice, I can't do it. Personally, as as reader, I hate description for the sake of description... get on with the story.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
I don't set-up my work area in any particular way. I can write on a busy train surrounded by screaming babies. Maybe I've trained myself to concentrate on my tasks at hand.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
For comic book writing, I prefer to write on a paper and the re-type on a computer.
Blogs - straight to the computer. File it, Look at it a minute later and see how many mistakes I made that need to be corrected.
I dislike editing my own work. I dislike re-writing anything of mine. Searching for that perfect word screws up mt creative FLOW. Get the words out, and after a re-read, fix the typos and spelling. I'll only change a word if I must, but I always write in the voice of my characters - like I become them for a sentence... if I start monkeying around with words the dialogue loses that spontanaity that I find crucial in my stories. To me, it makes it believable. I actually pity writers who fret for hours over a word or sentence. I'm envious because they are better writers, but I pity them because it can take a lifetime for that story to come out.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
my blog: www.wonderfulrife.blogspot.com
Other than that - this site.