EN: My short stories have appeared in the online journals The Four Cornered Universe and The Squawk Back. Another short story is also forthcoming in the Fall 2012 issue of Zone 3. I am busily cranking out stories as I develop a creative thesis for my Masters of Fine Art in writing at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. My hope is that I'll have a story collection that is publishable or nearly so by that time.
ET: Outstanding! If you keep it up, you'll have a great start on your own anthology. Can you tell us how you found An Honest Lie and Open Heart Publishing?
EN: A friend invited me to a facebook group for submitting writing for publication. I figured it'd be a good networking tool. Somewhere along the line someone else had posted a link to An Honest Lie.
ET: And yet another case for online networking, and how it can help writers. When and how did you decide to become a writer?
EN: My interest in writing really started to develop in the last few years of high school. I was one of the multitude of nerdy kids who took a stab at writing a fantasy novel and churned out about 300 pages until I realized how awful it was. Still, I'm still really jealous of my younger self's ability to churn out content without fear of its quality. Of course, if you want to be a serious writer in any capacity you have to be aware of what you're putting on the page and how it may be read.
ET: I'll second that motion. I suppose if you're serious, it means you want to be a full-time writer. What are you goals in that respect?
EN: I used to think that my ideal goal was to live off my writing alone. I still think it would be great but the more I think about it, the more I realize I'd love to be doing something that complements it on some level. On the most realistic and pragmatic level, I'd be happy with anything that allows me enough of a life outside of work so that I can write and provides some inspiration and encouragement. My program at UAF gives me the opportunity to teach while working as a grad student, so my hope is to continue on that track, but I'd love anything that engages my intelligence and imagination.
ET: I wish you the best of luck in that regards, and it sounds like you are on the right track to square up a career in writing. What is your philosophy regarding writing? Should it be fun, serious, informative, entertaining, etc.?
EN: It seems to me that writing is such a broad art form that no one can pick a handful of qualities to describe a good writer. In fact, the best writers usually do a little of everything in an organic way. George Saunders, for example, is absolutely hilarious in many of his stories and yet the human struggles and failings of his characters against his depiction of a cartoonishly cruel society still comes out genuine. Of course, some writers might have a few dominant qualities and still shine through. Cormac McCarthy is downright dark to the point of nihilism but is still hard to put down. The best writing, whether it be mine or anyone else's, is consistent and honest to what is being written. Humor is a powerful thing but can backfire if all the reader is doing is laughing and nothing else. A traumatic moment can shake the reader but is useless if all it's doing is creating that reaction for reaction's sake. The written word is reflective and contemplative in nature. Anything that strengthens that nature is doing something right.
ET: Wow, sounds like you could have an MFA in Writing from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks! How about when you write and create? Do you write to music or other background noise? If so, what sort? If not, how do you find your quietude?
EN: I prefer a quiet experience. Music can be too distracting to me and when I am writing with music on, it's because I'm able to tune it out. The extremes of the day tend to be my time: early morning or late at night which can be hard living up in a place like Fairbanks since one portion of the year is perpetual daylight and the other is 20 hours of night. Still, if I can get myself to my desk, keep facebook closed and have an idea of what I want to work with I can get something through.
ET: Ah, the quiet writer. I share your view on quiet writing spots, but they are rare times. Do you plot your stories, or write as you go?
EN: Usually, It's a matter of finding some concept or opening scene to work from. After that, as long as I have a vague sense where I want to take it I let the story find itself. I'm also obsessive about revising as I go which is an issue if you're just trying to get a draft down, but I try to ensure that the first typed draft is as good as possible. Recently, I've been handwriting at least some of the drafts and transcribing on the page, editing as I do so. It's mixed results so far. Sometimes I'm not satisfied with how it's going but other days I get a few pages before I even start typing.
ET: A fellow pantser, as they're called. I share many of your views on writing, and if I'm ever in Alaska or you're ever in Texas, it would be nice to sit and talk writing. Until then, I'll say THANK YOU for sharing your thoughts, and we all look forward to seeing your latest story, "The Cossack's Somnovar", in An Honest Lie 4: Petulant Parables, from Open Heart Publishing.
- Eric Trant
Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric's work here: Publications