David Henson lives in Peoria, Illinois with his wife and their dog. His work has appeared or is upcoming in two chapbooks, Literally Stories, 365 Tomorrows, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Eunoia Review, and Dime Show Review, among others.
What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
Read as much as you can, but find your own voice. Don’t be discouraged by rejections. Try to learn from them.
Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?
I think Duotrope is a valuable resource. The interviews with editors are particularly instructive.
How do you measure success when it comes to your writing?
For me writing is strictly a hobby, so I have to enjoy what I’m doing or there’s no point. But I do want external validation, too. First, that comes from my wife, who reads most of my stories before I submit them. Secondly, I’ll consider a story a “success” if it’s accepted. If it’s well-received when it appears (via likes, comments, and so on), that’s a bonus.
What tips do you have for finding time to write?
Well, I’m retired, so not as stressed for time as I once was. But I still keep very busy. Among other things, I took up playing classical and boogie woogie piano when I retired, and that competes significantly for my “hobby time.” I believe a good way to find time to write is to think a story through first, then write. I find I can get a lot done just by thinking about a story when I’m doing something that doesn’t require concentration — standing in line at a checkout or, better yet, exercising (I don’) or taking a walk (I do). Once I’ve thought through a story or parts of it, it takes less time to do the actual writing. Of course, a person can also set aside a specific time each day to write. I used to get up an hour early each day and write before work. But I have to admit…that was a drag because I started work very early.
Do you favor the traditional route or self-publishing?
I favor the traditional route. I like for my work to go through an objective evaluation process and be accepted or rejected on its merits. Self-publishing doesn’t offer that feedback.
What do you think the publishing industry will look like twenty-five years from now?
Even more online. Even less paper. Significant presence of interactive and virtual reality fiction.
Are you an outliner or discovery writer? Or somewhere in between?
Somewhere in between. I get a lot of story ideas while lying awake at night. (Not a very good sleeper.) I’ll just let my half-asleep mind play with an idea, which might end up becoming a loose outline when I go for a walk the next day. Then, when I get around to working on the story, I’ll start off following that mental outline, but let the story take me where it seems to want to go.
How do you deal with rejections?
First, I feel miserable…Then I feel awful…Then I feel bad…Then I start feeling better by thinking about how I might improve the story. It helps immensely if an editor provides a little feedback on what he or she didn’t like. If I don’t have any ideas for improving the story, I look for another market that might be a better fit. If the writing has been rejected several times, I’ll put it aside in hopes of getting an idea for making it better during a future sleepless night. By the time I’ve gone through this process, the sting is gone, and I’m looking forward to the next response or working on the next story.
In your opinion, how important is a writing degree or MFA when it comes to achieving success in writing fiction?
As someone who has a writing degree, I would say it’s helpful but not at all necessary. I think it’s more important for someone to either feel driven to write and / or to simply enjoy writing. I put myself in the latter category. Maybe the best and most successful writers are in both categories.
What are your writing goals for the next five years?
To still be writing!