This sample interview is offered as food for thought. Do some time traveling. Assume you have become a flourishing author what would/will your answers be to the questions below?
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Start. Just do it. Practice free writing to peel back your inhibitions. Ignore your own judge & editor on the first draft. Then locate a good writing workshop and a mentor or two. My first mentors were a woman my mother’s age, Maxine Kumin, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and a man the age of my son, McArthur “genius” award winner, Campbell McGrath. Treat yourself to the best. Spend money on your education. My MFA experience was sterling.
It may be prudent to locate a coach before you invest in and apply to an MFA program.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Never. It’s a myth that writers tell themselves. If your hands work or you own a recorder, you can write. Telling yourself you have writer’s block creates the dynamic of having to overcome writer’s block, and what you resist persists. Voila! You have diagnosed yourself into a phobia. No prob. Phobia’s are easy to “cure” but why create it to begin with? Better to tell yourself another story. The real issues here are extravagant expectations & the self-judgment flagellation frenzy. This can be cleared or deleted in half an hour. Suffering is optional. And in a spirit of community, I am available to assist in that clearing process.
If so, what do you do about it?
If I should forget that it’s a myth, I’d clear the thinking & emotions that perpetrate the “so called” problem.
Who is your favorite author and why?
JD Salinger changed my life with his departure from the lofty realms of great literature to a depiction of what was reality for so many of us. And what a reality: profane, vulnerable and gritty. His work is laced with self-mockery and replete with not-so-subtle social indictments. Awe. Appreciation Celebration. Applause. Amen.
What books have most influenced your life?
JD Salinger, Anne Tyler and Ellen Gilchrist in the realm of fiction. Mary Oliver and the ecstatic poet Rumi help me climb out of the alphabet and my skin. James Joyce and his stream of consciousness technique which pushes the boundaries between prose and poetry are also compelling. I also admire Annie Dillard’s work, particularly “Holy The Firm.”
How did you deal with rejection letters?
#2 All rejection is temporary.
#3. Traditional publishing is on its way out. Self-publish or work with an independent press with high standards & pay them to publish & promote your work if you believe in it.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Playfulness, resilience & “rainbow, rainbow, rainbow.”
Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?
I don’t draw any lines but instead attract an audience that is attracted to my subject matter.
This varies from book to book.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
Read Quantum Physics – mind blowing – I recommend it as a “feel good” activity.
Where do you hail from and what do you love most about your hometown?
I’m from everywhere and nowhere. My dad was an Air Force lawyer, so this gypsy moved every 2 1/2 to 3 years as a kid. I never stopped. I have lived in Wyoming, Alabama, Germany, Austin, Houston, & Waxahatchie Texas; College Park & Baltimore, Maryland; Chattanooga Tennessee, and Miami and Coral Springs, Florida, where I currently reside.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was an avid reader. It wasn’t expected that I would work. I’m sorry to report that I wanted to marry a judge, professor or diplomat. Happy to report that I did eventually step into my own life as a teacher, poet & counselor but skipped the judge & diplomat bit, although those skills do come in handy when editing & giving feedback.
Tell us about your latest book.
I’m sending out a new chapbook titled Joy as Verb to contests currently & getting my memoir reprinted but the pandemic has pushed back my publisher’s schedule. I describe it below:
Rogue Nirvana: Beyond Woo-Woo, Create the Life You Love. This satirical memoir breaks new literary ground, combining prose and poetry in this comedic but laser focused tale of the paradoxes and myths of our culture. Follow Sally Naylor as she seeks enlightenment in Holy Roller revivals and Quaker Meeting houses, as she zig zags from pragmatism, to self-help, to traditional psychology, to NLP. She researches everything from New Age modalities to neuroscience, savoring an array of gurus and fairy dust. Her quest was a response to the multiple challenges of Chronic Fatigue, widowhood and breast cancer.
Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
Poetry Box Press is launching my chapbook Synapse Flies into Startle: The Orgasm Book in March. It’s currently on sale at The Poetry Box, a boutique press in Portland Oregon.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Managing the publication process has always been my greatest challenge. I suspect I am not alone in that challenge.