- What is your first memory of writing for fun?
I always hated being told what to write. Book reports…essays…research papers where all assigned in High School and College. When I was 16 I joined the school newspaper, I was writing for the sports pages and I was supposed to write the Basketball Preview. When I assessed the players it read something like Vinnie Scarpello, F, 6’1”, 6’5” with afro. Joe Blow, G, Good ball handler, and actually likes the pizza in the cafeteria. I also was one of the few that could touch type, so I ended up being an Editor and earning the Smithtown East Journalism Award.
- How many drafts = done?
Infinity. It’s done when it’s done. It may need more drafts if I’ve written a really rough first draft. It may need more if there are more plot or arc revisions. It may need a few set of eyes because I like to farm line editing typos out because I’m just too damn tired at looking at the manuscript and I’m useless.
- What is your favorite book or favorite book-of-the-moment?
Favorite all time is Catch-22. I modeled my first novel after the chaptering style, the switch of characters and the humor found in some very serious subject matter. It is Joseph Heller’s work of genius within his total body of work.
- What is it about your discipline that gets you the most excited?
Depends on what I’m writing. For a novel, someone walking up to me and talking about the book—and not just ass kissing. For poetry, hearing that sigh right after you nailed a poem in front of an audience.
- What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?
That’s a tough one, but I love words which have double meanings and I love puns. Both those types of words give pause to think and to laugh.
Bonus question: What’s the best / worst practical joke that you’ve played on someone or that was played on you and how can this shared experience shape the world?
Once I worked in an isolated office for a company called, let’s say ABC Industries which worked next door to a company 123 Industries. It was so isolated that had to get in our cars to get a soda, coffee, or lunch out. One day a soda machine appeared in the hallway. Our office was ecstatic, and people were playing it up. “Who wants a soda?” and “Ahhhhh, Coke.” Totally yucking it up—so I just had to fix it.
I got an idea, how to burst the bubble—I posted a sign on the machined which read—THIS VENDING MACHINE IS FOR USE BY 123 INDUSTRIES ONLY. NO ONE FROM ABC INDUSTRIES IS ALLOWED TO USE THIS MACHINE.
Anyway. Word spread fast. It spread to our now grumpy employees, all the way to the office manager who storms into 123 Industries and has a red faced tirade. Oh no….I thought. I’d better stay silent on this—I’m in dangerous disciplinary action mode. The next day the machine had been removed. So, I’ve stayed silent for about 25 years and not told anyone about this until now.
In terms of shaping the word, I say, honesty is the best policy, unless it hurts yourself or others.
I feel pretty honored that this 25 year secret has been now shared with the world via Writers & Words interviews, thank you for trusting us, Timothy.
Check out Timothy and our other awesome readers this Tuesday, December 13th at 7pm at Charmington’s Cafe (facebook event, if you want it).