Creative writing interview

Today a student sent me questions for an interview. I found some of the questions thought-provoking and thought the interview might be worth sharing.

How would you define creative writing?

Creative writing is generally fiction and poetry, although more genres of nonfiction are being increasingly identified as creative. The most notable modern example is what’s sometimes called “creative memoir,” in which the author writes a memoir (about his or her life) and adds fictional elements to it. I personally think that practice blurs the lines between fiction and nonfiction to become a disservice to the reader. A reader ought to know before beginning if what’s being read is fiction or not. Fiction is a narrative that comes from someone’s imagination, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. The best fiction reflects life and God’s truth so effectively that it seems true.

What is your official title currently?

Being a self-employed writer means that I can choose my own title. My blog identifies me simply as “author and editor.”

What education did you have to go through to get this title?

I graduated from the University of Iowa in 2006 as an older, nontraditional student. I went back to school after my children were older, while I was still raising them and working outside the home. It took me 13 years to earn my bachelor’s degree, so it was a memorable moment to walk across the stage and receive my diploma. While the University of Iowa has one of the best creative writing programs in the country, I didn’t want to limit my education to one genre and took writing courses across the board.

What are the duties of a writer/editor?

The simple answer is: write and edit. I have three nonfiction books published and I write articles for a Christian magazine. I have edited catechism materials and theological books for individuals and churches in the United States. I have several novels in various stages of completion, including a series of four juvenile fiction novels written primarily for boys, the first novel in a juvenile fiction series for girls, and four novels written for adults. These novels spend most of the time simmering on the back burner of my mind. Whenever I can carve out a little time, I bring my latest WIP (Work In Progress) forward and turn up the heat.

What is your average salary?

Studies I’ve read indicate that most freelance writers make less than $10,000 per year. I make significantly more than that.

Who are your “piers”?

I belong to an online writer’s critique group, which has been a big benefit. These Christian women not only have sharp eyes and keen minds when they read through a story, but they also have big hearts and effective prayers when any of us struggle with personal or career issues. Most of these women live as far away as Alberta, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Florida. But two of them live in central Iowa and I meet regularly with them in person. In fact, one of these two women and I have been meeting to discuss our writing since we first took a creative writing class together almost 20 years ago.

How has society changed fictional stories, if they have?

Society has changed fiction, primarily since the early 1900s. Much of Western Civilization’s earlier literature had its bearings in an assumed existence of God and the contrast between good and evil. Twentieth century literature reflected society as it became far more existentialistic, but the decline really began with the romantic movement in the late 1800, which emphasized the natural world as opposed to the supernatural (God).

What are the conditions of a writer, if any?

Most writers I know work pretty much in isolation in a home office. That can be lonely and sometimes it’s hard to get yourself motivated. The perks are that you don’t have to get dressed up and leave home to work in an office with a lot of conflicting personalities. If you’re a self-employed writer, who gets up in the morning when your thoughts are flowing and the writing’s falling into place, you don’t have to shower or eat breakfast until noon (which happens to me more times than I’d like to admit!).

What are some other similar occupations to a creative writer?

People write creatively in a variety of occupations, such as advertising, marketing, and promotions. But creative writing techniques enliven any type of writing, so a creative writing education may be more useful than most people think.

Do you have any sort of schedule?

I get up early and go directly into my office, when my mind is fresh. I first have my personal devotions and journal. Then I work in different projects in two hour blocks. This keeps my writing fresh.

What are some benefits in being a writer?

God chose to reveal himself in creation, but he reveals Christ and the way of salvation specifically through the written word. Writing words seems to me to be a high vocation. I view writing as both a trust and a gift.

How can you put writing into a Christian perspective?

Being a Christian informs the way I think and everything I do. Christian authors don’t have to write stories that include a conversion scene or have characters who talk a lot about Jesus. An author who is a Christian should write excellent literature that conveys truth and glorifies God.


3 thoughts on “Creative writing interview

    1. The women in my critique group are my peers as well as my “piers” in the way they provide solid landing spots. [I wasn’t sure of age or intent of the student, so I ignored it.]

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