Five Simple Questions on Crafting, Drafting, Revising, Reading, and Being Kind
I love to read blogs and listen to podcasts about writing craft. I have a few favorites, but none ask all the questions I want to ask.
In 2022 I’m reaching out to other writers with five simple questions (thus Writers SimpliFived). Rather than asking about what they have written or what they are writing now, staple questions of this kind of interview, I am going to ask one question each about craft resources, initial drafts, revisions, what they are reading, and a final more personal question about how they’ve been kind recently. This last question is borrowed from the award-winning podcast The Imagine Neighborhood*
I’m starting this month with my own responses to these questions, in order to have a fresh January start and to set an example. So here are my five questions – and my answers:
What is your favorite craft book and why?
I really love Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin. Unlike many craft books, it is fairly short, which makes it somehow less daunting. All the same, it is packed full of everything a writer could want, from frank discussion of craft to practical exercises. My copy is love-worn.
What do you like most about writing a first draft?
I love the freedom of exploring an idea without too many guide points along the way, letting characters talk through me. I’m often surprised by what comes out in a first draft, including unexpected transitions and endings that are far from where I thought I’d be.
What is your favorite part of revision?
Until very recently I hated everything about revising my own work, except maybe proofreading (and that is easier on someone else’s work). I had a few horrific experiences in college writing classes and groups where it seemed nobody could write anything well, but in retrospect was a lack of compassion and constructiveness in the feedback offered.
I learned to love the deep conceptual edits that transform words on a page into a living story when I joined my current writing group, a truly compassionate group of writers/readers.
What book (not about writing) are you reading right now or recently finished that you would recommend to others?
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer sticks in my mind as one of the best books I read in 2021, both for its engaging narrative style and its navigation between indigenous tradition and contemporary science.
I read a lot of great books – mostly memoir and fiction and writing craft – and you can always check up on my reading at Goodreads, where I often post reviews.
Can you give an example of how you have been kind to someone else recently, in real life or through one of your characters?
My son and I recently took care of a neighbor’s hamster while they were in England. This counts as a kindness to neighborhood friends and to the hamster. Remember, kindnesses don’t have to be big to be meaningful.
Thank you for taking the time to read through to the end! I hope you will come back and see the responses I receive from other writers over the coming months.