Kim Harrison Interview on Goodreads

I set 2 alarms and still missed the first 15 minutes of the Kim Harrison streaming video interview on Good Reads. D’oh!

But, logging in was quick and easy and I got to watch a good bit, asked a question and it was answered, very cool! Well, once I realized it was my question –I am still not recognizing my pen name. I told DH, he might have to call out my pen name when we are intimate and he said, that wasn’t gonna happen!

Anyway, back to the interview. I took notes and when she got to the obligatory “advice to writers” question, I was surprised to read I had reached the conclusion a few months ago to do these very same things! I did have a few lightbulb moments, though. I laughed when she was asked how her life has changed now that she is so successful. She said that she had a much nicer office but still picks up the dog poo. She claims success in her mind is an assistant who jumps up and says: “I’ll get that Ms Harrison!” when the dogs poo. “No, shit!” I agreed, pun unintentional!

I got online line as Ms Harrison was telling the interviewer that first drafts are ugly, ugly things. She says that her advice is to not let them get you down! Don’t give up. Keep going, because the first draft will show you where you are going… then, you go back and fix it in the edits.

Since she said she was a plotter, I asked if a character ever surprises her and does something you did not expect. She laughed and said she was a religious plotter, so she loves it when a character has their own way. She often rewrites the outline 2-3 times while writing the first draft.

She mentioned that it was a bad idea to base a character on a real person you know, because you will eventually start expecting the real person to behave like the character. I found that very funny and could see it happening.

She works from 8 – 6 in her office -it’s a job! That was a lightbulb moment or maybe more accurately a WTF! moment. When I had a full-time job, I got up at 5am to write, then I worked and after work I tried to edit but I was usually burned out and tired. I dreamed of writing full-time at home. Now, I do. Or I am supposed to be doing so. But, I am getting up at 5 am, writing until 7 and then doing house-wifely things or blogging or baking…. WTF? So, starting today it is 9-5 and the other shit is done at 5 am or after supper. That really should have been obvious to me all along but it wasn’t.

Another obligatory question was about writer’s block and my ego was thrilled to learn, she sort of doesn’t believe in it exists. She feels 90% of the time, what you think is writer’s block is simply not knowing what happens next and this is remedied by the outline. For Ms. Harrison, what other’s call a writer’s block is simply a writing a character doing something they would never do. The story pretty much rebels and forces you to realize your mistake.

For me, Writer’s block is 50% not knowing what happens next, I never called it a block but would accept the need to percolate the plot in my head for a while until it came to me. I have since learned that if I push through and keep writing, I may write a few pages that get edited out later but I come to the solution in an hour or so and not days or weeks later.

I’ll try to summarize her advice for writers (I am not a very good secretary!):

  1. Write like you already have a contract, plow through -make deadlines and keep them.
  2. Write like a professional, it’s your job!
  3. Write through, no rewriting until 1st draft is done. Rewrite outline though.
  4. Get into a critique group, one that is good for you.
  5. Go to writer’s conferences, meet agents and editors, shake hands and be enthusiastic about your book.

Okay, I may have gotten things wrong or heard what I needed to hear. But, this was my take-away. Of course, the fourth item will be my stumbling block. I did belong to two excellent groups in the past, one was with Robert Bausch in the 1980’s and the other was Zoetrope online in the 1990’s.

Lately, I am suffering from been-too-lonely-too-long skills. I’ve been a hermit for so long, much contact has been adversarial with bat-shit crazy neighbors or drug dealing criminal neighbors, etc. I’ve had zero professional interaction. I did meet a lot of nice people at my first CRW meeting but no one returned my emails, so I guess I came on too strong or said something wrong or something was misinterpreted or maybe it was them LOL. New meeting this Saturday, I am not giving up. I may not make friends but I am learning a lot. There will be a lie-detector expert, that should be fun! I am trying to get DH to come but eh, who knows.


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