BradW: You have published 16 novels so far. Yet you recently announced you’re considering an MFA. Many people would think that you have arrived at this point in your career. What prompted this thought and what do you hope to see come of it?
LisaS: I see myself as stagnating. I know there are authors who find their “schtick” and can go for years on it. I think of greats like Mary Higgins Clark, Agatha Christie. But I just can’t sit still. I need to really push myself and want to grow.
BradW: I like that idea. What do you think an MFA has to offer you?
LisaS: A wider picture. I’ve never learned the possibilities of writing. What I’ve got I’ve learned on my own by trial and error. I need to look outside myself in the writing world.
BradW: How many books on writing have you read so far?
LisaS: Two. I think. I can only think of one, but I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt! It’s called “Making Shapely Fiction,” by Jerome Stern. Is that pathetic or is that pathetic?
BradW: Oh wow! Two? I wish I had achieved my level of writing by sheer talent like you seem to have. I’m at the other extreme. I’ve read dozens of books on writing. In the last 6 months I’ve probably read 4 or 5. You didn’t read “Bird by Bird?”
LisaS: Nope. I did read “Traveling Mercies,” though. Does that count?
BradW: I won’t tell anybody you said that. You’ll be stoned.
LisaS: Oh tell them. It cracks me up the way Anne Lamott. She is so revered. She’s pro-Democrat, pro-choice, pro-homosexuality, and the Evangelicals lap her up. It’s pretty amazing. And yet I can hardly get away with the word “crap.”
BradW: Hell no you can’t! I read “Bird by Bird” this year, finally. Heard so much about it, I had to find out what the hype was about.
LisaS: What did you think of the book, by the way?
BradW: “Bird by Bird” is a good book, but it wasn’t for me. I’m not as neurotic as she is. But it has good advice for neurotic, conflicted writers.
LisaS: Yeah. I’ve always thought myself pretty neurotic, but she sometimes makes me scratch my head. But I am glad she’s been accepted by the Evangelical community. It’s a good thing.
BradW: On the book signing tour for “Welcome to Fred,” my editor and Rick Lewis, the Logos Bookstore owner in Dallas, were talking about Anne and I had no clue who she was. They just stared at me. So, finally 3 years later, I read the book. I’m a busy guy. It takes me awhile to get around to things.
LisaS: Me too. Only I’m a gal.
BradW: So I hear. Speaking of which, I have a pet peeve to share.
LisaS: Oh cool.
BradW: I keep hearing wannabe writers talking about “putting butt in chair” and “putting in the time at the keyboard” like it’s some chore. What’s up with that?
LisaS: Oh, it’s a major chore for me! Sometimes I hate writing with a passion! I think, “Fotomat’s got to be better than this!” (Are there Fotomats any more?)
BradW: Ha! Not my perspective at all. When I read those things, I think, “If you don’t like writing, then don’t do it! There are plenty of us who like to put our fat butts in that chair and write away. If it’s such a chore, then why bother?”
LisaS: It’s like Flannery O’Connor said. “Because I’m good at it.” (Not that I’m a Flannery, by golly!)
LisaS: You’re lucky. What’s it like to be a writer that loves to write?
BradW: It is wonderful to be a writer who loves to write! It would be even better if this bothersome day job didn’t keep me from doing it more!
LisaS: And it really does beat the 9-5 at an office.
BradW: Well, I have both.
LisaS: Lucky you, eh?
BradW: Actually, I don’t, because my day job is waaay more than 9 to 5.
LisaS: I know. For the reading audience’s benefit: you’re in Singapore right now, right?
BradW: Yep. I have a 7am flight tomorrow. Which means a 4am cab ride.
LisaS: Oh good grief. What time will you get home?
BradW: Tomorrow I’m flying to Tokyo. I’ll be there 2 days, and then I’ll fly back to Honolulu. Let me tell you my travel schedule the last 9 weeks.
LisaS: Please do!
BradW: 1. Portland, OR. 2. Boston, MA. 3. Honolulu, HI (home). 4. Madrid, Spain. 5. Paris, France / Munich, Germany. 6. Geneva, Switzerland. 7. Honolulu, HI. 8. Taipei, Taiwan. 9. Singapore / Tokyo, Japan. Then I get to go home for a week or two.
BradW: Very little writing done in the last 2 months.
LisaS: I’ll bet.
BradW: But lots of research.
LisaS: And that sure counts!
BradW: How much do you have to work at time management when you’re on a deadline?
LisaS: Nowadays, I just have to carve out the time and stick to it. And I get this real pushy feeling in my stomach that just has to finish because I’m so sick of the project. I think, “Get this thing offa my plate, I can’t stand looking at it anymore!”
BradW: Not because of the deadline, but because you get weary of the project?
LisaS: Well, funny thing. Usually the two coincide. Must be a deep psychological response!
LisaS: How about you?
BradW: I like writing and I like editing, so I don’t really get sick of it. But once I feel like I’m done, then I’m done. At that point I want to put the bow on it, call it finished and move on.
LisaS: Amen. I love starting a new project.
BradW: Speaking of new projects, I see you have a full plate ahead of you. What’s up with that over commitment thing?
Conclusion Tomorrow, followed by a review of Robert Liparulo’s, Comes a Horseman (and discussion).