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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Author Interview – Ted Olinger

6:00 AM Posted by James Noel , No comments

What do you consider the most challenging about writing in general? Getting it right. I want something to happen in a story, some specific effect, and I pour everything into achieving that. Half the time it doesn’t work. That’s not so bad. You just throw it out. It’s the other half, where it’s not working and I can’t think how to make it work and can’t let it go. That’s bad. Sometimes it takes a lot of time for the story to advance just a little in my imagination, or even to forget where it was supposed to go to get it moving again. It’s terribly demoralizing to have a good idea I can’t adequately express, but I’ve found it’s essential to keep working it until something breaks out, or just breaks beyond repair. Usually that’s my ego.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? The writing taught me that I am much more deadline driven than I realized. I’ve always thought I disliked deadlines and so found myself working on things the moment I got them. But I’ve come to see I need deadlines to get moving. If my publisher hadn’t given me a strict schedule this book would still be dragging along while I worked on other things. Or thought about working on them.

Do you intend to make writing a career? I’ve had a few steady writing jobs with various publications, so in that sense it’s already been a career, though not a very profitable one. I have another book in mind and if that works there’s one after that. So I guess that’s a yes.

Have you developed a specific writing style? I try to keep it spare and evocative. That allows me to say little but mean a lot. When it works.

What is your greatest strength as a writer? I think I have to leave that answer to the reader.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? I live in a constant state of writer’s block, even when I’m writing every day. Frequency and volume do not by themselves equal quality and often it seems pointless to continue. I have to push that aside every day. But occasionally some half-finished sentence sounds half-decent, or there’s some confluence of ideas that turn into an unexpected action and I think ‘OK, got it.’ That feeling doesn’t last very long though, and that’s probably best. The only way I’ve found to break long dry spells is to go back to the books that have made a difference to me. I imagine we all have them and they don’t have to be classics. But something spoke to us at some time and if listen it will speak again. Experiencing that reminds me why I want to write.

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it? Deciding to do it took as much time as getting it done. I came up with all kinds of good reasons not to put this collection together (self doubt for example), and they far outweighed the few good reasons to proceed (like my modest track record). But those were self-imposed obstacles and once I decided to go ahead they fell away. Of course, plenty of real obstacles appeared to take their place but confronting real problems is easier than solving imaginary ones.

The Key Peninsula floats quietly through time in Puget Sound but exists more like an island in the hearts of her residents. Descendants of the first peoples and pioneers mingle with newcomers washed ashore from distant cities in these stories of small town life in a community too small to have a town.

Young homeowners grapple with the depredations of heartsick woodpeckers. Anarchist loggers nail indignant poems to roadside trees. Shamanic gardeners work to heal a damaged world one lawn at a time. Deceptively simple stories with deep feeling.

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Genre – Fiction / Short Stories

Rating – PG13

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