How long did it take you to write your first book ?
‘It took me ten years to write all of the stories in my collection. When I heard other writers talk about how long it took to write their books I often wondered why it often takes many many years for so many people. But writing a book is something that happens alongside all of the other parts of life. It happens in the dentists waiting room, while laundry is drying, at night after work, and in free moments on weekends. Basically writing happens whenever I can find a few moments to myself. And it’s so amazing to find that all of those little moments added up to a whole book!
do you have an mfa? Do i need one if I want to write a book?
A lot of writers have found that MFAs are a wonderful way to find a writing community, to hone their craft, and to have dedicated time to work on creative projects. But an MFA is not always accessible to every writer, and it’s not always the best fit for every person’s life circumstances. I didn’t even know that an MFA in creative writing existed when I first started taking myself seriously as a writer. By the time I did learn about them, joining a program wasn’t the best fit for my life circumstances. And that’s ok! There are a number of ways to develop your creative chops. What worked best for me was to read widely, to write a lot (even when I thought my own writing was terrible), and to find opportunities to connect with other writers outside of an academic program. There are a number of wonderful summer programs where you can workshop pieces in progress and they only last one or two weeks. I also joined a local writing group. The important thing is to read and write as much as your schedule allows and to understand that creative work takes time.
Where do you get your ideas?
I love to read about animals, both in the wild and in more domesticated environments. And I’m always curious about how they see and experience the world we all share. But I like to take my time when I’m writing things. What I tend to do is keep a little notebook with me all the time, and I just jot down little notes about articles I’ve read, or animals I am curious about. Then, when I sit down to write, I have a whole collection of ideas I can dip into.
I heard you like fountain pens. Do you do a lot of writing in longhand?
I LOVE writing with fountain pens! I like to fill them up with different colored inks and swap out my pens when I’m writing so that my page is really colorful. I usually write big sections of my first drafts in longhand, then I revise a little as I type them. My next round of revisions are by hand and I keep repeating that process until I’m done. I think both methods are helpful to me in getting my story on the page.