10 Questions with author Lance Manion
Lance Manion is the author of five humorous short story collections; Merciful Flush, Results May Vary, The Ball Washer, Homo sayswhaticus, and his latest The Trembling Fist. He blogs daily on his website and frequently contributes to many online fiction sites.
How long have you been writing and what got you started?
Like most abysmal things in the 21st Century my writing started innocently enough. Years ago on a now-defunct social media site I began to stray from mundane stories of my life to mundane stories of people who didn’t actually exist. As Elliott Gould’s character noted to Jude Law’s in Contagion “ Blogging isn’t writing. It’s graffiti with punctuation.” so technically I began writing after my second book.
What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
The best advice I have is not to take advice from writer’s you’ve never heard of … like myself. Nobody learns anything except the hard way so just go into it knowing you’re probably doing it wrong. You’ll look back fondly on all your mistakes.
What is the worst piece of advice you have for new writers?
Listen to the critics. Listen to agents. Listen to publishers. Pay other people for their expertise. They have your best interest at heart and your success is determined by being on a ‘best sellers’ list.
What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
While I enjoy most types of fiction, relative to my own writing I’d have to point to an unusual group of authors as my inspiration. Seeing people like Steve Martin (Cruel Shoes) and George Carlin (Brain Droppings) putting their irreverent stories out there gave me hope for my own stupid ideas. Add to those names the usual cast of characters such as PG Wodehouse and Douglas Adams and you have a pretty clear idea of why I write like I do.
What tips do you have for finding time to write?
Assuming that you remember my advice about taking advice, I would say that getting something down as soon as it occurs to you is most important. Good (and bad) ideas are slippery as hell. If you don’t throw it down on paper quickly I promise you it will disappear just as fast is it came. Make it important that you drop whatever you’re doing and get it down.
Do you prefer to outline a story in advance or write on the fly? Why?
I try never to know where a story is going when I begin it. I enjoy seeing where one odd idea will take me. The stories I end up keeping are the ones that somehow end up stumbling upon something I didn’t intend. I realize this is a selfish approach and it’s certainly not one that I would want to read exclusively, but I think that real honesty is usually unintentional. It’s also why I am so reticent about editing or making changes after the fact. When a story is done it might not be what I wanted to write but it’s what I was supposed to write.
How do you deal with rejection?
It’s easy. I’m very self-aware. I know that most people aren’t going to enjoy what I write because I don’t like most people. I don’t want to be what most people like. If you look at the celebrities these days they are empty-headed despicable people. What sane person would aspire to that? I’m writing for myself so I can’t be offended or bitter that most people think what I write is crap. Most of the time they have a very convincing argument.
What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
I would like to finish up my next short story collection and release it in the fall. It’s tentatively titled “The Song Between Her Legs” and with any luck it will continue my proud tradition of showing no growth whatsoever as a writer. I would also like to be discovered by Hollywood and asked to write a TV show that will get the green light and then be remembered as the worst TV show in history.
For the next five years?
I am very tall so I would like Hollywood to end up feeling bad about the whole TV show thing and offer me a part as an actor in a show that has all short cast members so every scene is shot with half of my head cut off.
Is there anything you’d like to plug?
Of course. My website, www.lancemanion.com, is the easiest place to find all of my info. There are links to my Facebook & Twitter and to my five books as well as daily stories and old interviews. Amazon and Barnes & Noble are the easiest places to pick up copies. Two of the books are free downloads if you have an E-reader.