A native of New York, Gabe Rotter now permanently resides in Los Angeles with his pregnant wife. He graduated from the film school at The University of Southern California in 2000, and since has worked in television, produced a feature film, penned the novel Duck Duck Wally, written a comic book, and is currently Director of Development for Ten Thirteen Productions. He has several of his own projects in development for film and television adaptation.
What one issue makes you struggle the most as an author? How do you handle it?
I always say that the hardest part about writing, is writing. By that I mean actually sitting your butt down in the chair in front of the computer and doing the work. It’s so much easier to procrastinate, to think about writing, to check your email, go on facebook – WHATEVER. The writing itself isn’t that difficult. It’s the making yourself DO IT that is the hard part.
Tell us a bit about your current project.
My current book is called The Human Bobby. It’s a story about a man who seems to have it all – a beautiful, loving wife, a child he adores, a great job, money, a big house and a few nice cars in the driveway. And then after a series of strange and tragic events he winds up with nothing, living as a homeless man on the streets. It’s a story about losing love and just how destructive that can be.
Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work, or struggle in a particular area such as writers block or angst driven head-banging against walls? Please share some helpful overcoming hints that you’ve discovered.
Absolutely. I think every writer experiences self-doubt on occasion (like every day), and certainly most of us deal with writers block. I guess you just have to trust your instincts and know that some people will like what you do and others won’t. Of course, it’s the best feeling in the world to hear that someone LOVED your book, and it’s like being kicked in the… leg… when someone writes a bad review. But at the end of the day, your value doesn’t come from other people’s opinions of your work. It comes from the work and the legacy and achievement that you are leaving behind with that work. And as far as writers block goes – nature of the beast. Everyone has periods of ebb and flow. You just have to ride the wave when it’s there, and try to stay sane when it isn’t, knowing that the drought won’t last forever.
Have you ever had one of those awkward writer moments you’d like to share with us, the ones wherein you get “the look” from the normals? Example, you stand at a knife display at the sporting goods store and ask the clerk which would be the best to use to disembowel a six foot man…please do tell.
When I was writing THE HUMAN BOBBY I wanted to talk to homeless people as much as I could, since I was writing about one. I guess I have the polite habit of asking people “How you doing?” when I first meet them. Well, on several occasions I had drunken belligerent homeless guys yell at me “HOW THE *%@$ DO YOU THINK I’M DOING?!?” That was always pretty uncomfortable.
With the clarity of experience what advice would you offer up to the wet-behind-the-ears you if beginning this writing journey today?
My best advice would be to DO IT. Too many people say they want to be a writer, or a film director, or whatever it is, but they don’t do anything about it. No one is going to write your book for you, or walk up to you on the street and say “you look like JUST the guy to direct my next film!” In life you gotta go for it and create your own destiny. Sure, it doesn’t always work out, but if you don’t do the work, then you are certain to fail.
What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why? (Doesn’t have to be one of your books or even published.)
Believe it or not, I wrote a story when I was 11 that changed my life. Even at that age I had an innate story sense. I wrote a short story for school about Halloween that had such a great structure for something written by a child — it even had a pretty surprising twist at the end. It blew everyone away – myself included. My teachers, my parents, even my class (who repeatedly requested that it be read aloud), all loved this thing that I had created from scratch. Before that, I never knew I had that storytelling ability in me, and I knew after that that I wanted to do it forever!
What gives you the greatest writer buzz, makes the trip worth the hassles (besides coffee or other substances, or course )?
For me it’s that feeling that you hear writers talk about – once you get going writing, when you’re in the zone and it’s just flowing out of you and you don’t even really know where it’s coming from. It’s this heady, otherworldly phenomenon that is just so wonderful. And then, of course, there’s nothing more satisfying than when someone tells you they loved what you wrote.
What is the first thing you do when you begin a new book?
I like to dive right in and just write it until I can’t write anymore. Just vomit (for lack of a better word) it all out onto the page. This usually seems to yield me about 40-80 pages, at which point I like to sit down and outline the rest of the story using index cards on a bulletin board.
Describe your special or favorite writing spot or send a picture if you’d like.
How about I tell you about my LEAST favorite writing spot: my bed. I wrote my entire first novel (DUCK DUCK WALLY) while sitting up against my headboard on my bed, with my laptop on my lap. Terrible, terrible way to write a book and my back will probably never recover, but hey – I didn’t have a desk at that time so you gotta do what you gotta do!
Parting words? Anything you wish we would’ve asked because you’ve got the perfect answer?
Thank you so much for having me!