Well, He Said, She Said is a writing guide, so it’s nonfiction. I suppose you could say that in this case the genre chose me. When we first started talking about putting out a series of writing manuals at Red Adept Publishing, I knew right away that I wanted to jump in and try my hand at a guide on dialogue. As a reader, I quite enjoy writing guides and books about the writing life. I’ve read quite a few—from the sort that are mostly how-tos to the kind that are more memoirs with some writing advice woven in. Writing can seem so overwhelming, especially if you’re staring down a blank page. It’s nice to turn to books that try to order all the aspects of the process and break them down into manageable bits.
What do you find most challenging about the writing process, and how do you deal with it?
Putting butt in chair. In other words, actually making myself sit down and do the work. This is seriously the hardest part of writing for me and always has been. I envy people who find solace in their writing. For me it’s work—often enjoyable and rewarding work, but work all the same. So the lure of more immediately pleasurable activities—reading, watching TV, going for a walk, whatever—can be really hard to ignore. To be honest, I don’t always deal with it that well, but if the usual self-disciplining tricks—setting aside non-negotiable writing time, doling out little rewards (a cookie when I’ve written 1500 words!)—don’t work, establishing an external accountability process helps a lot. Enlist a friend whose disappointment will upset you to help you out. Tell them to yell at you if you don’t email them one thousand words by ten o’clock every night. I work best under deadlines. Doing something like this imposes a daily deadline that I can’t wiggle out of (a cookie because I wrote 900 words that were really hard), and that’s often really helpful.
When and where do you do your writing?
This changes a bit depending on what other things I have going on any given day, but usually early morning (often before I do anything else) at my computer in a spare bedroom that I’ve commandeered into an office. It has a door that shuts. This is key.
What have you learned about promoting your books?
I’m still very new to this, so I’m still very much learning, but: you have to work at it. Duh, right? But I think there’s this tendency to think, “Okay, the book’s written, and the edits are finished, so I’m done, right?” Nah. I think this might be like thinking that you’re never going to have to parent again just because you’ve gotten the kid safely graduated from high school. Sure, the most fundamental, foundational work is probably done, but you’re going to be called on again.
What are you most proud of as a writer?
Finishing things. First drafts, edits, final drafts, what-have-you. There’s this tremendous sense of accomplishment in closing the book (ha!) on a piece, even if I know I’ll be coming back to it. I get this little surge of “See? You can do this.” There’s nothing like it.
If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?
I have to pick just one? There are so many writers I’d like to chat with—and for so many reasons. Some just to fangirl over, some to thank for writing books that have meant so much to me, some just because they seem like they would make fascinating dinner companions. But if I were truly trying to make the best use of my time, I’d have to pick someone I could talk about process with, I think. Jane Austen maybe, because there’s this image of her just fiddling away at a little table in the parlor and slipping her work under a letter or a blank sheet or something when people came to call. And, just, how—? Her plots contain such little intricacies, and she accomplishes so much through humor and point of view. I’d love to hear about her process—was she really writing like that, in the midst of family life going on right on top of her? If so, how did she manage to accomplish what she did in that environment? Or, if not Austen, J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m a procrastinator and a perfectionist, and I think he was too. I’d like to know if he has any advice about how to work well with those afflictions—or how to stop worrying about them and just carry on!
About the Author
Laura E. Koons attended Lycoming College and then completed graduate degrees in Creative Writing at both Ohio University and The University of Tennessee. She has worked on several literary magazines including Quarter After Eight, Drunken Boat: an online journal of art and literature, and Grist: The Journal for Writers, where she served as Fiction Editor for the inaugural issue.
She currently edits for Red Adept Publishing. In her free time, Laura can usually be found with a book in hand, but sometimes she puts them down long enough to enjoy swimming, crocheting, and doing volunteer work at both her local library and history museum. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two ancient, snarky cats.
On Red Adept: http://bit.ly/RAPHeSaid
On Amazon: http://amzn.to/1PgVlUI