Anyone can be happy. It’s a choice. (To be miserable is also a choice.)As I read Barbara Meyers' answers to my interview questions, I found myself saying "me too!" Repeatedly. So grab your coffee (it's Starbucks' today, as host I'm serving and giving Barista Barb the day off), sit yourself down, and meet Barb Meyers.
Okay Barbara, first question: I'm totally stuck on my latest WIP, so I have to ask: Did one book give you more trouble than the others?
The book I’ve been working on now, which is a book connected to A MONTH FROM MIAMI, has been very difficult to write. The characters would not reveal themselves to me. It was like pulling teeth. They’d had such painful pasts I guess they didn’t want to talk about it. I started this book in January 2008 and I had to stop working on it. I spent most of 2008 writing something else entirely, a sort of comical urban fantasy. Then I went back to my hard book and it started to come together. I finished it at the end of June and submitted it to Samhain. So my fingers are crossed that my editor from A MONTH FROM MIAMI likes it enough to make an offer.
What's your biggest distraction when writing?
Oh, my gosh, I think it’s me. I’m notoriously undisciplined and as I’ve gotten older I wonder if I’ve developed adult ADD. I’m up, I’m down. Looking for a pen, trying to find a pair of glasses so I can see what I’m doing, getting a drink of water. When I’m writing I often sit at my kitchen table and which is surrounded by windows. I watch birds and butterflies and squirrels, marvel at the big powder puff tree nearby. For some reason I think it’s a good idea to check my e-mail numerous times a day, although it’s not necessary. It’s a habit. If the phone rings, I have to check the caller ID. If someone I like calls me, I talk. I have no set schedule at the Starbucks where I work, so it’s hard to have a set writing schedule, although if I have an entire day off, I’m usually writing. Suffice it to say, I’m quite easily distracted!!
Gee, I think I can identify with that. (I'm usually trying to find my second pair of glasses, which usually are on my head. Seriously!)
What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
I’ve said this before in other blogs, but I’ll say it again here. If you are not absolutely compelled to write fiction, don’t start. If you don’t have what it takes to write the absolutely best book you can write, don’t bother. The world is filled with mediocrity and the world of publishing has, in my opinion, more than its share. Please don’t add to it. I think most readers would be surprised to know how little writers make from their published work and how many of them, some of them fairly well known, still have a day job. Writing is hard work. Writing well is even harder. Getting published by a reputable, royalty-paying publisher can be the hardest thing of all. If you want readers to know about your book, you’ll have to spend time promoting it. If you haven’t started writing yet, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’ll be easy. You might be the exception to the rule, but for most of us, it isn’t.
Are you a Plotter? Or do you write "by the seat of your pants"?
I’ll tell you how I write: I’ve usually got a vague idea of who the hero and heroine are. That’s the first thing. I always find the hero easier to write than the heroine. In A MONTH FROM MIAMI, Rick was going to be a hunky mechanic, divorced with full custody of his child. I knew that. And Kaylee was a hair stylist on her way to Miami. Their backgrounds sort of develop while the story simmers in my brain. Sometimes I make notes about them or I’ll get a scene that comes to me along with the perfect dialogue. I’ve learned to write this down ASAP or I will forget it. I wish I could plot better. I’m reading Debra Dixon’s GOAL, MOTIVATION AND CONFLICT. I’ve been to numerous conferences and workshops and worked with critique groups. All of the “how-tos” never seem to sink into my brain and translate into the way I write thereby making it easier. I take lots of wrong turns because of it. So I guess I write “by the seat of my pants,” especially if that means half the time I don’t know what I’m doing.
If you could go back to when you were just getting out of high school to give yourself one piece of advice, what would tell yourself?
This has nothing to do with writing, but I’d tell myself to stop trying to change myself to please other people in order to somehow make myself more acceptable to them. I was a mess when I was growing up and for a long time after. I think it’s fair to say that I had no idea who I was. Whatever instinct I’d had as a child, I’d been told it was wrong. So I never quite knew what I was doing or who I was as I got older. Eventually I wised up and figured out I was okay and acceptable just as I am. But I sure wish I’d known it then. It would have saved me from a lot of mistakes and heartache.
Barbara is offering an e-copy of her novel, A Month from Miami, to one lucky commenter, but I'm going to make you work for it. On her website, Barb says that she thinks everyone should have their own personal theme song. Hers is the theme from Mr. Rogers. Tell us what yours would be ...