Larry Hinkle is an advertising copywriter living with his wife, two dogs and a cat in the suburbs of San Antonio, Texas. His work has been published in Suspense Magazine, Cemetery Moon, and twice in Sanitarium Magazine. He was also named an “Honorable Mention” winner in Allegory.
1. How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I’ve only been writing fiction for the past two years, but I’ve been writing ads (I’m a copywriter by trade) for over 20 years now. I wanted to be a writer when I was younger, and took a couple classes in college, but the feedback was so soul-crushing it convinced me I wasn’t good enough, which is how I ended up in advertising. Now, instead of writing stories that scare people into peeing their pants, I write ads that scare people into buying adult diapers lest they be caught peeing their pants. Two years ago, after reading On Writing by Stephen King, I finally worked up the courage to try writing stories again. I’m never going to make a living at it, but it helps me avoid more dangerous vices like exercise or meditation.
2. What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
Don’t listen to your professors. Don’t listen to your critique groups. Do listen to your mother. (Except when you ask her to critique your writing. Do you really think she’s going to say anything bad about her precious little angel?) If you want to write, write. Hopefully, eventually, you’ll get better. I wish I’d stuck to it back in college. Also, write for yourself. Don’t worry about what the next big trend is, unless you’re just in it for the money, which I’m sure you’re not if you’re taking advice from me. If you have a story about a cannibalistic family of cousin-kissing goat farmers, write it. (Just don’t expect anyone to publish it.) I have a ton of stupid stories I know will never see the light of day (nothing as sick as the one I just mentioned), but they made me laugh when I wrote them, and they made my friends laugh, too. That’s always a plus.
3. Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?
Stephen King’s On Writing is probably the best book on writing (duh) I’ve read. Reading it was one of the things that convinced me to give it another go.
4. What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
Horror. Humor. Humorous horror when I can find it. Some sci-fi. Early Stephen King (he’s still a great writer, just not that scary anymore). His son, Joe Hill, has a great collection of short stories, and his last book N0S4A2, reminded me of his dad’s early work. David Wellington is really good. David Wong (editor of Cracked.com) has a couple books that are hilariously scary fun. Same with Jeff Strand.
5. What tips do you have for finding time to write?
Just make the time. There’s always an excuse not to do it. Trust me, I know. Procrastination is the albatross that hangs around my neck. Get up early. Stay up late. Spend an extra few minutes on the toilet. The cloud makes writing a little easier, since you can store and access all your stories from wherever you are. I’ve written entire chapters on my phone. (Admittedly, they were very short chapters.)
6. Do you prefer to outline a story in advance or write on the fly? Why?
I’ve never outlined a story. I like the spontaneity of just throwing a few things on the page and seeing what happens. Usually, I just have an opening line and go from there. Once, I had a great ending line, and wrote backward from it. I wouldn’t recommend that, though.
7. How do you deal with rejections?
Early on, obviously, not very well, which is I why I stopped writing for 20-some years. Being in advertising helped a lot, though, because 99% of the ideas you come up with are killed along the way, either by account people, your creative partner, your creative director, the client or, god forbid, focus groups. The first few rejections I got when I finally started submitting stories hurt and I pouted some, but then my wife told me to stop being such a baby, and I got over it. You can’t make people like what you write. Either they will or they won’t. There are only two ways I know of to avoid rejection: 1) Become a better writer, which I’m working on, or 2) Blackmail, which I haven’t resorted to. Yet.
8. What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
Try not to suck. Make my wife proud of me. Have fun. Don’t take things too seriously. Remember, it’s just writing. It ain’t rocket surgery.
9. For the next five years?
Try not to suck. Make my wife proud of me. Have enough good short stories to publish a collection. Hopefully my mom will buy one.
10. Is there anything you’d like to plug? Feel free to share a link.
I’ve had a couple stories published in Sanitarium Magazine (www.SanitariumMagazine.com). They didn’t suck. One of them (The Quantum Dead) was picked up for the zombie anthology Life of the Dead. That was pretty cool. I got my first royalty check for $2.92 a couple weeks ago. It paid for half a pint.