CONGRATULATIONS, WAYNE, YOU EARNED STORY OF THE MONTH!! WE LOVED IT - IT MADE US LAUGH!! GREAT WORK!
Wayne, would you tell us a little about yourself?
A. I'm one of a legion of unknown writers. I've published no books and I have no website. But if you do a google search with my name, over four pages of stories (at last count) come up, and that thrills me. I enjoy writing--that's why I spend so much time at it. I have no plans for a novel or anthology of my stories, but if Random House calls who am I to say no?
Q. What would you like our readers to know about you?
A. As a man, my greatest accomplishment is that I've been married for thirty-seven years to the same woman. And she still likes me. We raised a son I'm very proud of and he and his wife have three children, who happen to be the cutest, smartest grandkids ever. Here I am, approaching sixty, and I'm so happy and satisfied with my life. I worry I might have been given a secret lobotomy.
As a writer, I'm a fairly good amateur. I hope I'm improving.
Q. How long have you been writing? What made you put that first story down on paper?
A. I've been writing in earnest since I retired about five years ago. Before that, as an English teacher at a small community college, I edited a magazine of student work and, what little writing I did, was mainly work-related articles. I wrote fiction as a teenager and in college, but it's fair to say that after skipping the next thirty years, I began writing after I retired.
Interestingly, my plan for retirement was not to write but to paint. But after a few art lessons in which the instructor gave me a pear and asked me to focus on the way the light cast shadows on the fruit and followed that with a strawberry, I realized I had neither the patience nor the life expectancy to capture the minute details of a berry. So I returned to writing.
Q. Do you write in a particular genre?
A. I write primarily short fiction, mostly realistic (mainstream fiction) and I also enjoy creating humorous essays, such as "Women Can Be Such Pigs!" I'd love to write poetry or fantasy, but I'm afraid if you look up the word "prosaic" in the dictionary, you see my picture. If I learned anything in my life, it's not to fight who I am.
Q. Who’s your favorite author and why?
A. At various times in my life I would have said J.D. Salinger or Jack Kerouac or F. Scott Fitzgerald or Kurt Vonnegut or Alice Walker or Tom Robbins. Now I say my favorite writer is anyone I happen to be reading at any given moment who gives me pleasure, be it Robert Parker and his Sunny Rawlins detective novels or John Updike.
Q. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
A. A writer needs to be able to write sentences that are clear and fun to read and create characters that are engaging. That's talent. If the writer can also put the characters through interesting experiences and conflicts and has something to say, that's genius.
Q. How do you develop your plots and characters?
A. This is the point where I shrug and say, "I dunno." Arlo Guthrie, when asked how he gets his ideas for songs, said he has a creek running through his property and when the sun and the moon are just right, he can reach into the creek and pull out a song. I think that's the best answer to this question I've ever heard. Incidentally, he added, "I'm just glad I don't live down stream from Bob Dylan."
Seriously, I'd rather not analyze where inspiration for a story comes from. If I knew, I'd probably go to that spot all the time and it would dry up faster than Arizona soil in summer.
Q. What is most frustrating about writing?
A. Facing a blank computer screen with an equally blank mind. It happens often.
Q. What is the most rewarding?
A. There's a moment when the computer screen starts filling up with words, characters appear and I feel like I know them. There's an adrenaline rush and I can't wait to see how the characters will end up. That's exciting. The rewarding part comes as I revise, play with the sentences, make sense of the characters, their actions and thoughts, and readers respond positively.
Q. What do you do to unwind and relax?
I take long walks, garden, and do things my wife has asked me not to mention. (That's for another story.)
Q. Is your family supportive?
Absolutely. My wife encouraged me to retire, to find what I wanted to do with my free time and to write. I couldn't ask for more. I hope I'm as supportive as she is.
Q. Any last comments?