10 Questions with M.V. Montgomery
M.V. Montgomery is a professor at Life University in Atlanta. He is currently at work on a speculative fiction collection.
1. How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I’m sort of a born-again writer, having done a lot as an undergraduate, then taking a break for grad school and to raise my kid. I got back into it about ten years ago, mostly by keeping a dream journal, taking notes on what I read, and participating with my students in short exercises.
2. What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
The best advice is to realize your unconscious self is not an alien being, but a central part of you, and to extend it an authorial prerogative rather than trying to consciously conform to what may expected of you by others, or in an MFA Program. Writing is not a social activity; you have to go off-grid.
3. What is the worst piece of advice you have heard for new writers?
To try to find a “style.” Style follows from content, so you have to live and read and reflect and dream and come up with something to say first.
4. What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
I like stuff that is clever and imaginative and bordering on the surreal. Writerly writers like Borges, Calvino, Marquez, Kafka. Contemporaries like Joyce Carol Oates, David Foster Wallace, Kazuo Ishiguro, or Zadie Smith. Anything you can rely upon for inspiration—though in fact I read most anything.
5. What tips do you have for finding time to write?
I’m pretty much a morning person. That groggy half-conscious state can be pretty productive of ideas, and afterwards, when the coffee sets in, you can do more shaping and editing.
6. Do you prefer to outline a story in advance or write on the fly? Why?
As Virginia Woolf would say, let the atoms first fall where they may; worry about assembling them later. Even for a longer work you shouldn’t feel like you are filling in a schematic, but maybe just sitting down to toy with an arc or two.
7. How do you deal with rejections?
I just log them and forget them. Rejections can be good: they are more definitive than hearing nothing back, and they afford you a chance to do more perfecting. Sometimes, it’s just a mismatch between the piece and the publication; sometimes, it’s going to be the right piece at the wrong time; sometimes, the piece might even be too literary for the publication. For me, even when I am really flying high, I know I will receive three rejections for every fiction acceptance, and at least two rejections for every poetry acceptance, so it’s kind of like a batter hitting .275: it’s just the nature of the game.
8. What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
I’ve completed my first collection of speculative fiction and am looking around for blurbers, if any reviewers out there would like to peruse the PDF. It will be published by Winter Goose in January, so the preproduction will start soon. I’m giving myself a little breather by working on two longer-range projects, a collection of short Gothic pieces and a collection of jokes.
9. For the next five years?
I’ve been thinking in terms of a slightly longer 7-10 year period until I retire from teaching. During that period, I’d like to come out with “new and selected” collections of stories and poems, if for no other reason than my work is kind of scattered.
10. Is there anything you’d like to plug? Feel free to share a link.
I have two recent charitable enterprises out, one a poetry collection through Winter Goose titled A Dictionary of Animal Symbols; the other a series of western stories published through Red Dashboard LLC and available as 99-cent downloads. Any royalties I receive will go to Noah’s Ark and Save the Horses.