Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world? The ability to tell stories distinguishes humanity from other sentient creatures. The best stories successfully translate the muddled workings of our collective unconscious into a coherent narrative with universal meaning. They do so by resonating at the subconscious level and tapping into meaning beyond the analytical and the logical. If I didn’t write stories, I’d feel as though I were cut off from the deepest part of myself. Stories are the oxygen of my subconscious mind. For the same reason, storytelling is a powerful medium of interpersonal communication. Impactful stories operate like tunnels of empathy between people with vastly different experiences and perspectives. By definition, a story well told entertains, but it can’t hurt if it also makes the world a slightly better place in the process.
What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block? On occasion, I've found it helpful to use a published book as a model for whatever I’m struggling to write. I will choose an excerpt from a favorite writer — a description of a setting, an internal monologue, a scene — that seems to capture the flavor and rhythm of what I’m striving to write. I’ll then substitute words to make the excerpt fit the particulars of my story. At the very least, this exercise gets me writing. Usually, it greases the creative wheels enough that I can carry on from there.
What is your favorite time to write? Early morning, right after downing a cup of Earl Grey tea and sacrificing three goats to the Muses. When goats are unavailable, I’ll substitute a bowl of Grape Nuts.
What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Don’t fear critiques. Take a long breath after receiving feedback on your work. When the swelling of your bruised ego has subsided, soberly go through the criticism. Winnow out anything not offered in a constructive capacity, but be brutally honest with yourself, so as not to be too dismissive. If multiple readers are telling you the same thing, they may have a point. Ignore the rest. Easier said than done, so there's no shame in uncorking that bottle of pinot collecting dust in the pantry.
What excites you most about being a writer in today's age? It’s hard to remember writing fiction pre-Internet Age. My writing is heavily dependent on details about historical eras, locations, and how things function. These days, information about every conceivable topic is often only a Google search away. Although I still consult primary sources and scholarly writings, online search makes locating those sources a far more efficient process and frees me to spend more time on the fun stuff.
Keith R. Fentonmiller's Fate Accompli (The Water Nymph Gospels, Book 1) is out tomorrow.