10 Questions with E.S. Wynn
E.S. Wynn is the author of over fifty books in print and the chief editor of seven online fiction journals.
How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I’ve been writing for almost my entire life. As soon as I learned how to wield a word, I was writing little stories, and by first grade I was writing short books. Everything I was writing then was very derivative of the cartoons or sci-fi shows I was hooked on at the time, so it wasn’t sale-able by any stretch of the imagination, but it was good practice and I loved doing it. I think I gravitated toward writing initially because I had a lot of images trapped in my imagination that I needed to get out on paper, and since I couldn’t draw (or at least, didn’t have the patience to learn how to do it) and didn’t have my own movie crew or studio to make movies with, I settled for the art form that gave me the leverage to do the most that I could with the simplest tools. I learned the power of words very early on, and have always delighted in using simple constructions of letters and sound to cause explosions of color and imagery within the minds of my readers.
What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
Never give up. In my opinion, that’s the single most important piece of advice one writer can ever give another. Don’t write for the success. Write what you love because you love it. There is no magic bullet or magic way or one true means of “making it as a writer,” so toss aside your ideas of writing something you hate because you think you might be able to ride Stephenie Meyer’s or E.L James’s fanbases to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The act of writing itself must be the reward, or you’ll never make it as a writer. The path is long and full of heartbreak, but it’s worth it in the end, no matter how many people you reach. I think the most satisfying thing about being a writer myself is not the checks that come in the mail, but rather the letters. My favorites, the ones that make the journey most worthwhile, are those that come from people who say that my books literally saved their lives by giving them something to live for in their darkest hours.
What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
I would say that every author (and writer) I’ve ever read has influenced my work, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. Everything I read (and as the chief editor of seven online journals, I read a lot) I study and dissect in my mind, laying it out so I can understand the patterns, the math and music behind every line that moves me. My favorite authors to read and absorb are probably Cormac McCarthy, Storm Constantine, Peter Grandbois and Robert A. Heinlein, but I also have a lot of fun seeking out and reading obscure and/or little known independent sci-fi writers from the late seventies, eighties and early nineties. That, to me, is the most perfect era of science fiction– the point where intellectual sci-fi was beginning to become more action-oriented, darker and more real, but before it yielded entirely to modern pulp “syfy”.
What tips do you have for finding time to write?
You have to be willing to make the time. That’s really all there is to it. You have to write every day. Keep a small notebook on your person at all times, and use those little ten minute waiting periods when you’re standing in line or sitting in traffic to get ideas down on paper. Always have ideas brewing in your mind, and when you finally sit down at the keyboard to write, the blank page won’t seem so intimidating because you’ll have already done all the hard work of coming up with concepts, first lines, etc.
Do you prefer to outline a story in advance or write on the fly? Why?
Honestly, it depends on the story. Most of the stories and books I’ve done I have penned on the fly, but here and there I’ll write up an outline (or part of an outline) to plan a piece. Sometimes I’ll also start in the middle of a piece or write it in chunks and then fill in the gaps until the whole thing is done.
How do you deal with rejections?
Politely. As an editor, I’ve handed out quite a few rejection letters in my time and I’ve received some really vicious responses in return. The trick is to remember that when an editor rejects your work, they aren’t attacking you, slighting you or telling you that your story “sucks.” They’re just telling you that your story doesn’t work for their venue (and sometimes the reason it “doesn’t work” is as simple as a lack of room in the schedule.) Keep shopping your pieces around until you find a home for them. Also, it doesn’t hurt to give your stories a read-through after every rejection, just in case you’ve missed some typos. Editors like clean copy– the cleaner the better.
What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
I’m in the process of relocating to another state at the moment, so I’m mostly just picking up shorter projects. I’ve got a whole list of magazines, anthology calls and contracts I’ve been working through, and I’ll probably continue with that for a while to keep myself flexible during the transition.
For the next five years?
Eventually, I’ll probably dive back into the longer works again (books, etc.) With fifty-seven books in my name (and one more in the pipe right now,) I’m not in a hurry to get back to the big projects anytime soon, but we’ll see what the future holds. It’s nice to be able to work at a more leisurely pace again (1k / day instead of 4k-5k / day.)
Is there anything you’d like to plug? Feel free to share a link.
The best thing to plug would probably be my main author blog at www.eswynn.com. From there, you can find links to pretty much everything I do on the left-hand side of the main page. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Deviant Art, and pretty much every other social site out there.