I would like to welcome and offer my sincere thanks to Gayle Carline for allowing us to take the time to interview her for this site. Gayle is the author of “What Would Erma Do? Confessions of a First Time Humor Columnist“. Thanks Gayle!
Where do you generally prefer to go when you write?
I write all over my house. Well, not on the walls, but you get the idea. My three favorite locations are the family room sofa, the chair in my bedroom, and the table in my living room.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I like words. I like the sound of them whispering around in my head as I read. I’ve been known to read the King James version of the Bible just because the verses are so beautiful, even when they’re not easy. Forming that perfect sentence is like an endorphin rush. Unfortunately, I know when I’ve got that sentence or phrase that’s so perfect I want to weep with joy, that’ll be the first thing I’ll have to cut when I edit. But the experience of thinking it, writing it, and being amazed by it, is still worth it all.
Do you prefer to write on a laptop or a desktop computer?
I prefer a laptop, so I can be mobile.
What steps do you take in starting a new book?
If it’s fiction, I start with my cast of characters. As a former software engineer, I put everything in an Excel spread sheet. I list their names, their physical description, their profession, relationship to each other, and any unique tastes. Then I begin with a VERY vague outline. I mean, like “X is murdered, Y did it because X stole from Z.” I fill in the blanks as I construct the plot, to a point where I can actually start writing the book.
If it’s a humor essay, I think of the moral and begin with an Everyman preface. Then I tell my story in the funniest and most exaggerated way I can, and finish with a nod back to the preface, where I acknowledge myself as That Everyman.
Do you use a critique group or just trust your instincts?
I would love to find a writing group! You’d think I’d be able to find a group in southern California, but I just haven’t found a group that was cohesive – yet. In the meantime, I have writer friends who I can bounce ideas around with, and beta readers who tell me what’s going right and what’s going wrong with my story. And I have had some luck with online readers.
What advice would you give a new writer?
Always aim for better than your best work. It sounds hard, but after awhile, it will get easier. Publishing is going through such an upheaval, and there are so many people out there who would like to be published and will jump the gun before their work is ready. Don’t rush it. Don’t get sloppy. Give your readers something of quality, something they would re-read just to enjoy your voice.
What issues or challenges do you struggle with the most?
I think I struggle with what every other writer struggles with today – there are so many paths to publication, which one to I take? Do I pound my head against the Big 6’s doors, hoping for a big contract? How many boutique publishers do I approach before I realize I could have put my book on Kindle and be making sales. How do I evenly distribute my time across writing, marketing, and, oh-yeah, my family?
© 2019, Steven R. Drennon. All rights reserved.