M. J. Wolfson is a writer with a handful of publication credits. Book collector, autograph hunter, part time lion tamer, and full time fantasist. Assistant Editor at Firewords Quarterly.
1. How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I first had the inclination to write at the age of 13. A teacher lent me a copy of Ray Bradbury’s The Golden Apples of The Sun. That collection of stories really opened my eyes, and it’s still a favourite today. For years – decades – I wrote in secret. A lack of confidence held me back, and I rarely managed to finish anything I started. Then in 2007, for reasons I can’t remember, I embarked on a mammoth reading year. I read about three books a week every week without fail. I read everything. Classics, pulp, bad fiction, good fiction, and just about every genre known to man. At the end of that year something clicked. I just knew that I could be a writer. So in 2008 I started taking writing seriously. In 2009 I had my first acceptance, but the story never made it into print. In 2012 I had my second acceptance, but this time the story was published. Every year since I’ve had work published someplace, somewhere.
2. What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
Have a steadfast iron-willed belief in yourself.
3. Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?
I’ve never found anything better than Stephen King’s ‘On Writing.’ You don’t need to be a King fan, or want to be a horror writer, to learn and be inspired by that book. If you struggle with your grammar then the best book out there is Strunk & White’s ‘The Elements of Style.’ My grammar was embarrassingly bad. ‘Elements’ allowed me to reach an acceptable standard.
4. What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
Fantasy, Golden age Sci-fi, Crime, anything if it has a strong character driven narrative. Favourite authors in no particular order are: Ray Bradbury, Ian Fleming, Robert A Heinlein, Raymond Carver, GRRM, Walter Moseley, Colin Dexter, Agatha Christie, Robert E Howard, Arthur C Clarke, Terry Brooks, David Gemmell, and a host of others.
5. What tips do you have for finding time to write?
Time is the biggest hurdle that any aspiring writer has to deal with. Unfortunately it’s not about ‘finding’ time, it’s about ‘making’ time.
6. Do you prefer to outline a story in advance or write on the fly? Why?
Haha – I like to refer to myself as a free-writer. I generally get a scene in my head and I just start writing. The stories and characters evolve on the page and I shape them into a cohesive story during the rewrite phase. That system has worked for short stories, and therefore I’ve stuck with it. On the couple of occasions I’ve tried to plot a short story the results have been dire. However, I’ve tried to free-write a novel and it didn’t work. Therefore, I know I’m going to have to embrace outlines and develop a system so I can start churning out longer works.
7. How do you deal with rejections?
There’s nothing to be dealt with. I just shrug them off. An acceptance is far scarier due to the volume of readers that will be suddenly reading your work.
Rejections are quite often very subjective. All a rejection means is that an Editor at a magazine wasn’t keen on your work. Another Editor, at another magazine, could absolutely love your submission and accept it. If the same submission collects multiple rejections then you know it needs a re-write. The majority of my published works all started life as rejections.
8. What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
I intend to publish a collection of my short stories that have been previously published elsewhere. I’ll probably add a few original stories into the mix that have been written specifically for the collection.
9. For the next five years?
I know I’ve got to start writing novels if I want to make any form of career out of writing. Therefore, I’m hoping to have written at least two in the next five years.
10. Is there anything you’d like to plug? Feel free to share a link.
I’m the Assistant Editor at Firewords Quarterly. A magazine that focuses on fiction and poetry. We give short concise feedback on all submissions. We publish all genres. Details here: http://firewords.co.uk/