It’s been said that in order to be a good writer one must not only be a voracious reader, but read the genre within which one wants to write. That said, there’s nothing more inspiring to this writer than being able to have a glimpse within another writer’s mind. So, without further ado, here is an Interview with another one of my favorite writers, novelist G. J. Wise!
Terrie Leigh Relf: What are your daily writing/creative rituals? How do you prepare your space for these activities?
G. J. Wise: I generally write in the evening sitting in a comfy chair in the living room. My wife usually has something on the television that I’m sometimes half paying attention to while I sit with my laptop on my knees and work on one of my WIPs. I generally decide which WIP to work on based on what seems most likely to be productive that day and that’s usually determined the night before as I lay awake in bed trying to fall asleep (I tend to be a bit of an insomniac). I usually run stories through my mind right before I drift off. It sometimes helps me to fall asleep, but often times it doesn’t, because I get caught up in where I want to go with the story. One real benefit to this I’ve found is that sometimes when I’m really stuck on some plot point, the answer will come sometime during my sleeping hours, because many times when I get up in the morning I know where to go with the story.
TLR: Do you have a “day job” in addition to being a writer? If so, what (if any) challenges do you face? How do you rise to those challenges?
GJW: I do have a day job. I work from home as a Sales Engineer for Loudspeaker Components, LLC. I generally work from about 6:30 am to 4:30 or 5:00 pm Monday through Friday. I travel three days every other week to the manufacturing location across the state. I occasionally have to travel to customer locations, industry symposiums and trade shows as well as our other manufacturing facility in Nogales, Mexico. The main challenge I face in this position is making sure we hit the customer deadlines for new projects. This involves coordinating the tool design and development, determining the correct materials and processes needed to produce the part the customer needs. I also have to make sure the samples hit all the customer requirements, then ensure all the process documents are in place to produce the parts as requested when the orders come in.
I’m not sure how to answer the question, “How do I rise to those challenges?”, because I think I’ve become habituated to them. I’ve been doing this work for many years and like anything you do for a very long time, you don’t intellectualize the challenges you face. You just work through them because it’s part of the job. The more you work through them the less they become challenges. It’s like with writing, I know that when I start a new story, not matter how clear it is in my mind, when I begin to write, I find it a bit of a struggle to get into the rhythm of the story. So, that would be a challenge for writing. What I’ve learned is to just write through it and try not to self-edit too much. I found that if I just keep putting one word after the next, I begin to fall into the rhythm of the story and it comes easier. Easy enough that I get lost in it and become unaware of my surroundings. . .that’s the good stuff. When you lose yourself in your work. And so, whatever the challenges, whether in my day job or in my writing, I don’t really think about them as challenges. It’s just part of doing the job.
TLR: Describe a recent writing session in detail. How long was it? What activities did you perform? What did you accomplish, and so forth?
GJW: My most recent creative session was writing the beginning of a new story. I got down about 2300 words on what I think will ultimately be a novel, but I’m not entirely sure. It detail, here’s what happened. My wife came home from work the other day and during our conversation she said that the weirdest thing happened when she was going into work that morning. As she leaves in the morning the kids in our neighborhood are walking to school and she said that there was a cluster of them standing beside the road all looking up in the sky in one direction. She said she was driving by and was trying to see what they were looking at while trying to keep one eye on the road, but she couldn’t see anything. She said what struck her as weird, was that they kids weren’t all together, but they were looking in the same part of the sky. There was one kid pulled over to the side of the road, straddling his bike. There were a couple of girls standing nearby looking into the sky with their arms wrapped around their schoolbooks, holding them to their chest, and then another group of three boys just down the sidewalk standing together, all looking up there. She couldn’t see anything from her vantage point and continued on her way, but what made it even stranger was when she turned on the next street, there was another boy standing on the sidewalk (this was about two blocks away), looking up into the sky in the same general direction as the other kids.
What is strange about the creative process for me is that I don’t always understand it. We finished our conversation about her weird experience that morning and I think we decided that the kids must have seen a hot air balloon or something that was just out of her line of sight in the car. Anyway, we went on to other things, and I basically (consciously) forgot about the conversation until I lay down to go to sleep that night. Then It played though my mind how strange it must have been to see random groups of kids, independent of each other, even in the same proximity, staring into the sky at nothing, but all looking at the same nothing. This simmered for a few days and last night when I sat down to write, it came to mind again and I began writing the scene. The plan forward is that it’s not just the kids in our neighborhood, but kids all over the world. . .all at the same time and they’re all basically starring to the same someplace else in the sky. All of them, in a state of catatonia. It goes on for a few days before the come out of it and when they do come out of it, they’re somehow changed. What they see there, I don’t know yet. How they’re changed, I don’t know yet. What it all means, I don’t know yet. . .but it’s coming. The session in total was over a period of about a week, but the actual writing lasted about 2-1/2 hours.
TLR: What tips do you have for other writers? This could be anything from a time-management strategy to an inspirational quote.
GJW: This may seem a little lame, but I hope not because I think about this almost every day of my life. I’m not sure where I heard it, but I’m sure I heard it somewhere, I just wish I could credit the source. “You Get What You Settle For.” I know, stupid, hunh? But, this really means something to me. In my writing, in my job, in my life, my marriage, my family, in everything. . .because it’s true. There’s no one else to blame or credit for your successes or failures in everything you do. As an individual, I know I don’t have control over everything that happens in my life, but I do have control over how to deal with it. . .what to do about it.
TLR: Is there anything else about your creative process that you would like to share?
GJW: I would like to say that as a writer, it’s important to have perspective on what you create. Be completely honest with yourself about a given work. Be open to advice and criticism if it will make a piece better, but also keep in mind, that anyone’s opinion is just that. . .an opinion. Remember the old adage when someone tells you your work sucks: “Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one and they all stink,” but most importantly, make sure they’re not right.
About the Author
G. J. Wise lives with his wife in Silver Lake, Wisconsin. He’s been writing for many years, seriously for the last few, and has short stories published in both print and electronic anthologies and periodicals. His debut novel, Spiritwood, will be released late 2014. G. J. Wise is currently at work on his next book-length dark offering as well as many more short stories. If you want more information about current or upcoming works, please visit his author page on Facebook or Amazon, or feel free to contact via e-mail at GJWisehorror@yahoo.com