Meeting the Rising Writer No. 14
I admit I laughed at the idea of interviewing myself; therefore, I’m happy to say I didn’t have to interview myself, but instead I was interviewed by members of An Author’s Tale. Thanks for saving me from a weird typing session.
As a writer and editor, I can proudly say I embrace both sides of the writing spectrum. I love the beginning and the end of the process and hate them at the same time. I am a Story Coordinator for the Collaborative Writing Challenge, a freelance editor (as most of you know), and I am Managing Editor for a local college newspaper, the Del Mar College Foghorn. Aside from that, I am a photographer for a local company and I work with my parents’ roofing company. Even more, I’ll earn my BA in Creative Writing & English in about a year from now.
I’m busy all the time, but nothing keeps me from doing what I love and doing my best to inspire others to do the same. I try to follow the Lord’s path for me every day, and I will never be able to thank Him enough for the gift He has given me. When I’m not writing, editing, working, or dealing with college, I’m with my horses; funny thing about that is my horses are a few states away, and I’m not lying. When I’m not busy, that’s where I am…about once a year for a good length of time and hopefully, after college, for a longer period of time than just a “length.”
Here are your questions and my answers.
What came first, the editor or the writer? – Michelle King
The writer came first. I’ve been writing since I knew how to write my name, and I only know that because I remember having a little memo notepad that I wrote “short stories” in, though they were all a type of Dragon Ball Z or Disney movie fandom. I loved being the main character, or a character, so I would write my own little episodes that allowed me to exist in those fantastic worlds.
I didn’t discover editing until over a year ago when I first joined the journalism department. I have always been known as a grammar nut, but I thought anyone who enjoyed writing or reading would be a grammar nut of some kind. The editorial staff handed me designed pages to proofread—I had asked if I could do more than write articles and take photos, and I didn’t yet know how to lay out a page. They wanted me to keep copy editing after that, and I quickly realized I was not only good at it, but I loved it.
When you edit someone else’s work, do you ever have to resist the urge to make them tell it your way? – Cynthia Treis
I have had moments where someone takes a story somewhere I never would have dreamed. One thing I keep in mind, though, is that it’s not my story. Sometimes, I do have to confront the matter and say the plot isn’t matching up or the character is changing without reason—things that require an editor’s attention—but for the most part, I can figure out when I need to keep my distance and let the story unfold. Usually, when the story does unfurl, things end up as they should. The author knows the story better than I do, so their vision typically has a better result.
I learned a lot about this as a Story Coordinator for the Collaborative Writing Challenge. Chapter by chapter, I receive submissions from different people who take the story in different directions, and I’ve learned, through gritted teeth, that it’s not just my story. My job is to keep it consistent and streamlined—to choose the best-fitting chapter. Their job is to write. And it’s been an eye-opening, and wonderful, experience in that area.
Have you ever shied away from a book or story that was too gruesome or too extreme in nature? – Jack Pewitt
Not yet. I won’t say that will never happen because horror isn’t really my thing, although I have edited horror novels. I can almost guarantee I’ll shy away from any horror involving dolls; I don’t do dolls…or satanic rituals. However, a good story can overrule my fear and I’ll accept the edit-during-the-day-only schedule. I once edited a novel that was all about gore; the most vivid scene I read through involved wood being shoved down someone’s throat. Gross, but the story was a good one, so I took it on. I can say there will be a time I turn down a story too gruesome or too extreme, but that hasn’t happened yet. That being said, I do not suggest asking me to edit a horror novel unless it has a unique plot. I will gladly listen to the storyline but if I turn down the project, it’s not because I don’t like it. It’s because I’m not a good fit for it, and I believe every author deserves an editor who can share excitement for the project, resulting in a better editing process.
Have you ever had to tell someone to “forgetaboutit”? – Cynthia Treis
I try to be honest about what I can offer writers, and I don’t think it’s fair to a writer that I take on a project I’m not interested in. I also allow writers to do the same to me; if we don’t have the same thoughts or visions for a story, I won’t demand that they start the editing journey with me. There have been a couple times I didn’t see the story or I wasn’t interested in the plot, so I turned it down and assured the writer I simply wasn’t the best for the job and they deserved an editor who shared their vision. Like horror. It’s not something I typically suggest sending me. I had one excellent plot that I couldn’t turn down, but that may have been a rare find since I don’t typically enjoy horror.
I have also had to tell someone I couldn’t work with them because they had too small of a budget. I make my editing services relatively affordable in comparison to the industry standard, so when someone wants to lower that price, I can’t, and I know my services are worth more than what I charge, so I had to turn the project down.
Would you rather write or edit? – Cynthia Treis and Richard Happerger
I’ve thought about this question all week. The part of me that loves words is obsessed with learning, teaching, reading, showing, sharing, and changing. I enjoy helping people improve their work. It helps me improve, too. I notice things that I don’t have the ability to notice in my own writing because I’m the one writing it. Even editors need an editor. I love being a part of the polishing end of someone’s story. I learn from their writing through my own discoveries when finding their voice or meeting their characters. I love it, and I can’t imagine not editing.
Now, I also love writing. It has always been a big part of me. Editing is like a best friend I can travel with, experience life with, and create a lifelong partnership with, but writing is like the best friend you have always been able to trust and tell your secrets to. I know it’s odd to compare editing to an adventure, but sharing someone else’s story is a different adventure. Writing is extremely exciting, but it’s more personal and it’s a different kind of adventure that I have with my mind. It’s how I vent and how I get things out of my head. It’s truly a polygamous relationship, for me. They both offer different things and neither can take the other’s place. Writing is my childhood hero and my vice. I love editing, but I also love spilling what’s banging around in my head. I love the excitement of creating new worlds, meeting new characters, and molding it into something great.
Being both writer and editor allows me to release the writer within myself so I can be the editor—not the writer—for my clients. That’s a good thing, so I’ll be pleased with that.
What genre do you love writing and what genre would you never want to attempt? – Benjamin Kreger
I have always loved fantasy. I love the odd creations, new worlds, fantastic characters, and wondrous plots that can go any direction. I experience many different things in my head, and I’m rarely in the same world I live in, physically. I feel like I can tell any story I want—any person’s story I want—when I write fantasy, and I love every moment of it.
Though I have attempted it, I don’t willingly write horror. I wrote a short horror story once. I can be pessimistic, but I enjoy happy endings. I know horror stories can have happy endings, but I don’t seem to get those when I write in that genre. I don’t read horror, nor do I watch it. Goosebumps books scare me. I never even had dolls as a child because those scare me. Therefore, I won’t write horror. I scare myself.
Have you ever read a book you disliked so much you wanted to rewrite it? – Ekta R. Garg
I’ve read books where I didn’t like the ending, but I don’t typically think I could rewrite it better. Sometimes, I’ll have a different vision for the ending, but in those situations, it would be a different story. I don’t like books with sad endings. I like to feel good after I read and if I close it in a bad mood, I feel a little betrayed so I will prefer a different ending, but I wouldn’t wish it to change. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a good example. I’d never re-write it because it wouldn’t be near as good without the ending, however, it wasn’t an ending I enjoyed, exactly. That said, it’s one of my favorite novels. That may not make sense, but it’s the best answer I have. When editing, however, the answer is the same as the above about resisting the urge to tell a story my way. I have a slightly different mindset when editing and another mindset when reading.
What is your favorite storytelling medium? – Benjamin Kreger
In response to your specification on medium, I enjoy novel writing more than anything. I’m not a good campfire storyteller because I keep going and campfire stories don’t take two hours to tell. One thing I love about writing novels is that I can say what I feel needs to be said and even then I have plenty of room to say more. I like depth in stories. I enjoy becoming best friends/enemies with the character. And I like that relationship to develop over time, although, sometimes “over time” is still two hours because I can’t close a book. So I would love to do that with my own characters…my own story.
Why do you write? – Benjamin Kreger
I write because I can do anything with it. Because it is an extension of myself that I can share with anyone and that I can create from anything. I love writing, actually, because it allows me to share things that are a part of me, so I write to prevent myself from losing that part of who I am. I can vent, create, challenge, or simply let loose what is on my mind, even if it amounts to nothing. I don’t need to leave my chair—or bed—to experience life through someone else’s eyes. I can make something new, discover new people, and create beings who are willing to share their experiences with me.
Do you self-edit constantly when you write or are you able to let your mind wander freely? – Richard Happerger
Oh, yes, I self-edit the entire time. I can’t help it. I can prevent myself from editing for big things like plot holes and content issues, but I can’t keep typing if I know I missed a comma. If I don’t catch the mistake as I type, I can keep going. This helps when I go back to edit because I’m not fixing every single sentence with punctuation and re-wording, but it does slow my writing process. I don’t hate it, as tedious as it is, but it’s not easy to keep the creativity flowing with the editing brat screaming in my head.
If you could choose how your work of art is received, would you rather be a commercial success or be critically acclaimed? – Richard Happerger
I would rather be critically acclaimed than a commercial success if I’m understanding your question correctly. Not that I wouldn’t love to make a fortune off my writing (Who wouldn’t?), but I would rather people absolutely love my work because I write great stories and write them well. I put a lot of effort into my writing in every stage, I edit the same novel incessantly, and I panic when I let someone else look at it. I love my writing, and it scares me to think it’s not good enough. So, even if I was some big hit bookseller, what would I have to show for it? I’m a writer so if my writing isn’t great, am I? Not as a person, but I think it’s understandable what I mean by that rhetorical question. Being critically acclaimed means to be loved by even those who are hard to impress, and that would be priceless in comparison to a constant flow of money because of a good marketing plan. I’m a quality type. Quantity has rarely served me well.
Do you have a typical character type you find you write for most often? (male/female, heroin/underdog, blond/brown hair, blue eyes/brown?) – Crystal Burton
I find myself writing for female characters most, and I also find myself writing for the insecure character. I love characters who overcome internal issues, so I know that’s a huge reason behind the latter of the two typical character types. The former has an obvious reason; I’m female, so that point-of-view is easier to write in, however, my second book series is going to be from a male’s point-of-view, so that will be interesting.
If you were a Care Bear, which one would you be? – Michelle King
I had to look this up, and I stopped “researching” when I reached the 2000s list of additions—I didn’t know they added more. I’d have to be Daydream Bear. I fit her description rather well. My head is almost always in the clouds, and sometimes people carry on conversations with me while I have one of these fantastic episodes. My brain never seems to stop working, and I always have something on my mind or I’m always creating something new that I can only add to my list of things to write. I’d say Daydream Bear and I are pretty similar.
If you could have a magical power, what would it be? – Crystal Burton
How would you use it? – Michelle King
Well, let’s see. I’ve been asked this numerous times throughout my life—I’m sure everyone has—and I think I would like to be able to change my form. It would be neat to turn into a bird and talk to a pigeon about their life. Can you imagine the stories animals would have to tell? The perspectives I could have at my disposal? No one would believe me unless I showed them, which I wouldn’t because that would ruin the fun of it, but I’d sure make it believable on paper! I’d definitely use it to fly where I wanted and I’d use it to find new stories. I know I could do a lot more with a power like that, but that’s all I can think of at the moment. I know…anti-climactic…but the stories wouldn’t be, would they? 😉
If you could rewind the clock back, are there any decisions or choices you made that you would change? – Rachael Steele
I would tell myself to get over what others think and make decisions for myself. I could have started my writing/editing career sooner, I think, if I would have shut out the voices that said I needed to do better things—things that made more money. I was never fair to myself and did a lot that made me unhappy. A terrible outcome threw me back into the world of writing, and it was truly a blessing in disguise.
What are your ultimate career goals or where you’ll find yourself in 20 years? – Cecelia Marriott Chittenden
In 20 years, I would love to have seen the world and finished my journey, settled down somewhere with a family, and published quite a few books, as well as edited a dozen or so best-sellers. You know…big dreams. I don’t think I could ever quit writing or editing, so I may have to find some eye insurance or something. I’ve always wanted to travel, and a part of me still thinks some poor guy is riding a turtle in my direction thinking his future wife is going to be sophisticated and ideal.
I want my writing journey to be filled with purpose. I don’t have to be famous or rich, but I do want to be rich with purpose. As crazy of a life as I’ve had so far, I can’t imagine God having looked away while my bad times were roaring, because it brought me where I am today and I know, for a fact, that I wouldn’t be where I am without it all. I’m running like crazy right now, but I know it will pay off. I didn’t use to be so excited about my future, but I am. I’m determined to become a full-time editor and every-other-time writer. I love both worlds for different reasons, and I believe that is where my purpose lies.
If you have any other questions, please ask and I’ll answer them below. One question I ask all my interviewed writers is what their current project is about, so I’ll go ahead and share that with you here.
Elaine once called her twin, Cynfra, her conscience. After saving her from her brother’s murderous grasp, Cynfra is revealed as Elaine’s shadow, her twin sister absorbed at conception and the voice in her head. While the sun and moon provide all shadows the ability to thrive on Earth with their twins, the shadows’ existence is limited to a shared subconscious with their twin by the Law of Revelation, an absolute law enforced by the Moderators of the Winds. In the vast Arizona desert, a rogue Moderator hunts Cynfra, not for her crimes, but for a power she holds within. The Moderator wants this power for his own, for with it, he can claim the minds of shadows and destroy the humans who once held him prisoner like they do all shadows.
I eagerly await y’all’s critique on my excerpt and hope y’all learned a little about my world of writing.
Have a fantastic day!
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