The next installment of the Emerald Musings Author Interview Blitz features Ferris Robinson, author of Making Arrangements. Once again, we’ve found another writer brave- or foolish enough to answer our five-question blitz. Please enjoy!
Question # 1: Let’s start with a fun question– Why do you write?
I have written for almost as long as I can remember. When I was very young, I made little storybooks out of old cardboard and scratch paper, probably one or two words on a page and misspelled.
I spent a whole lot of time at my grandmother’s house in Athens, Tenn., as a child and I didn’t really have any friends there – I lived 2 hours away. She had a vast collection of books – all the classics – so I read. And read. And read.
I was painfully shy until I was about 16 and went to a high school an hour away from my home, and again, knew no one there. Sooooooo I read – I think I read every book in the lower school library. I was so absorbed in stories and I suppose I learned at a young age that taking a pencil and writing things down was just part of life for me – I didn’t obsess over what words worked or didn’t. I just wrote them down willy nilly. There are stacks and stacks of journals that I’ve kept over the years – all of them mostly illegible. But I’ve always found it easier to write than talk, especially when I have something important to say.
And I get pleasure when I tell a story the way I think it should be told – when a piece evokes the emotion I intended.
Question # 2: What is one “piece of writing advice” that you wish you’d never taken?
I wish I’d taken MORE writing advice, actually. And I wish I’d majored in English/creative writing in college.
Question # 3: How would you explain your creative process to a five-year-old?
I have something that I want other people to know, so I’m just going to make a note of it. I want them to feel something in their heart, so I have to find the words to make them understand. No one needs to read it until I’m ready for them to see it, so I don’t have to worry about what words I choose. I just pick a pencil to get them on the paper.
Question # 4: How do you know when something in your manuscript should be edited, removed, or left just as it is?
That’s such a hard part – killing the darlings. I have to beaten over the head several times by many people I respect before removing scenes that I really love. It’s hard to hear that they just don’t work! But I’ve learned to do it when I think it’s necessary.
I try to make sure everything in the scene moves the story forward, either advancing the plot or deepening the understanding the reader has of the character. And if it doesn’t, I pluck it out. Ouch.
I re-read a lot and make changes constantly. It’s hard to know when a piece is finally finished b/c every time I read one, I tweak something.
Question # 5: And finally– What do you plan to write tomorrow?
Tomorrow I need to finish my column for the Lookout Mountain Mirror. It’s about moving, the third most stressful life event after death and divorce. Within the span of 2 weeks, my mother moved from her home of 18 years to a condo, my husband moved from his office of 15 years to a much smaller space, and my son and daughter-in-law moved from Louisiana to Tennessee. I don’t ever want to see a cardboard box again. But I want to make my piece something the reader can relate to, and I want to show that the intensity of working non-stop, day-in, day-out, with my siblings/husband/sons/daughter-in-law were some of the most meaning times in my life. Better sharpen my pencil!
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