Masticadores.- Why do you write?
I think this is the quintessential question for any human who’s put pen to paper. Why? Why do we write? Why do we have the drive and the need to say something? I think I’ve always had a daydreamy brain, and an overthinking brain. In a way, writing has always been a kind of release or catharsis for me. When the noise inside my head gets a little too loud and the pressure too great, writing gives me a way to channel those thoughts, get them out of my head to leave space for peace. That’s at least how it is for me with Poetry. My essays can do the same, help me organize and work through thoughts and ideas in a meaningful way that can be read, shared and discussed. In terms of my novels and characters, writing is a way to live a bigger life for me. To slip into someone else’s skin for a while, experience different worlds and play with decisions and situations I might never have in real life. Sometimes characters are just born in my subconscious and I’m genuinely curious about what they’ll do in their journeys.
M.- Since when do you write? Was there a specific moment that prompted you to start writing?
I believe I started writing, seriously, sometime in the sixth or seventh grade (11-12 years old). It was my first introduction to creative writing through an “advanced” reading program. We studied Tolstoy and Steinbeck and some of the classic poets. I remember being inspired by the language use of Keats and Wilde, and Dickenson and Byron. I came from a rural town before the Internet really began so my style and work reflected how I started. I remember writing a poem, specifically in Mrs. Babel’s class, during ‘free write’ time and it was the first non-rhyming poem I’d written and I felt like I’d broken some cardinal rule and they’d come and burn my paper. I remember looking at those words and breaking out into a little pre-teen sweat and staring around me at the other kids. Like my world had shifted. Like I had done something fierce and forbidden. Poetry has continued to feel that way for me.
M.- In your daily workday, how much time do you spend writing? Do you have a ritual before
facing the blank page?
Lately, I’m ashamed to admit I don’t spend much time writing. I’m currently studying and preparing to take my Second Degree Black Belt test in Kenpo Karate/JuJitsu so my days are filled with physical demands, techniques, locks, throws, weapons, and the like. But on a typical day, I like to spend two to three hours if possible, on my writing art. This can include poetry, editing, novel writing, essaying and blogging. I find if I write at my desk, in my ‘office’, away from my family and the housework demands I can get a lot done in an efficient manner. When I know I have a long session of editing to do, I pour a cup of tea, put on classical or instrumental music and set a timer for 25-30 minute chunks of time. I can’t stretch, move, or leave that chair until the timer goes off. I will also use a timer sometimes for writing new work especially during challenges like NANOWRIMO. I find I have a bit of adult ADHD and my brain is too busy and worried sometimes to focus—unless I know it’s a finite period of time. The funny thing is, when that timer rings, I’ve become so enamored and focused that I often turn it off and keep going. I like to listen to music to inspire certain scenes or moods in my writing.
M.- Are you a compass or a map writer?
I had to look this up! In the US we often call this “Pantster” and “Plotter”. A panster is equivalent to a compass writer, and a “plotter” is a map writer. When it comes to my poetry, I’m a complete compass writer. I write as it burns and usually that work is based on emotion, or something that I came across that was so jolting it took me out of my daydreamy mind. I rarely plan out a poem and if I try it seems forced and dry. I blog as a map writer. I try to plan ahead topics that are relevant to the theme of my blog (writing and living a beautiful life) and research, outline, and write them pretty much by the book. In terms of my novel writing, I am an odd combination of both. I write by character and situation first, following someone of interest in particular situations and if I have enough of a road to follow, I will lightly map out their story arc, character development, and crisis points.
M.- What would you like to review about your literary work?
I’m not entirely sure what this one means but I guess if I could share something about my literary work, I would say that my poetry is best read slowly and contemplated on. Very often I play with word choice to weave in subtle meaning and deeper layers. My first novels, if I could review, I would say were a bit wordy and I like to think my current work coming out is more concise but still beautiful. I think I’ve learned a lot in the past few years and it’s helped. One thing I’m proud of (and I’m not really someone who likes to shout about myself) is my dialogue in novels. I think it’s one of the most important ways to get to know a character, to move a plotline, and to create tension and suspense.
M.- What do you think about new technologies as instruments for the writer. Do they help or
I am embarrassed to admit that I’m an old school writer. My family likes to joke that if we had a manual typewriter I’d probably still be using it. I have had good luck with Word for the whole of my career and beyond different versions, I haven’t stepped outside of that. Recently I worked on adapting a novella to a screenplay and some of the software there is really helpful as I didn’t know at all what I was doing. I liked FinalDraft and Scrivener. Otherwise, I do a lot of handwriting (especially for poetry or scenes from novels that strike me when I’m away from my computer) and work mostly from my Mac.
I would say that the advent of computers, typing, texting, etc has had a negative impact on the beauty of mind/body connection that happens when you write something by hand. I see my kids struggle just to work on their cursive. I think there’s something very special and tactile about writing out your words with pen and paper. It’s much more intimate.
M.- Publishing in digital, does it change your methods of inspiration or work?
Besides the technical aspects of formatting and learning the systems to make sure page numbers end up where they should be and chapters fall in the right way on a Kindle, it doesn’t change my process much. My words are my words and whether people read them in a book in their hands or on a screen, I hope the effect is the same. That they feel something. That they root for my character. That they laugh when I laughed writing it, and cry when I cried.
M.- Do you think that accessing the reader who reads on a tablet, computer or mobile phone,
in different spaces, for example, train, bus, metro, can help you be more read?
Yes, absolutely! Even as a self-proclaimed old crank when it comes to technology, I am excited about how many formats books and writer’s work can reach the public. I’m currently looking into how to produce audiobooks for my work, because I have several friends and readers who listen to work while they run, commute, or even clean house. I, myself, love to read, especially on vacation. Being able to take a Kindle or Nook to read a ten-pound book like War and Peace without an extra fee for my luggage is a plus.
M.- Do you think that, during The Pandemic, loneliness and isolation influenced your network
of contacts? Did your readers increase?
The pandemic had a very strange and very personal effect on myself and most writers I know. Some of us flourished, without the extra duties of work and activities occupying time, they wrote like crazy and had a relaxed mind which led to more creativity. Some, like myself, were so inundated with panic and worry, political strife, the stresses of home-schooling children and losing work, fell into creative disrepair. I wasn’t able to write much and when I did it was very dark and murky stuff. I didn’t mind the loneliness (I’m introverted to a fault) but I think it did make me lose touch with a lot of my connections in the writing circles. We were all in a strange state of hibernation. I’m just now getting back into meetings, coffees, and finding that solid ground. When the world is in upheaval, as a woman and mother, my priority is on safety and survival and I felt like creativity had to take a backseat.
I’m not sure if my readers increased. I know I did more light-hearted reading and that’s what my books are (romance/paranormal romance) so I like to hope someone out there found a few hours of respite with my words.
M.- Self-publishing or editorial? Do you think there are still misgivings in contemplating desk top
publishing to publish a work?
I believe we’re in the midst of a great change in publication process. I have self-published as well has had some work traditionally published. Being a hybrid writer/author is going to be important in the future of how you get your work out. I think for a long time, the major publishing companies in the US held all the power. Which meant that they chose the trends and the work that fit those trends. It left a lot of voices unheard. A lot of diverse, important voices and stories, untold. With the advent of self-publishing, I think we’ve seen a blossoming of work from different authors and viewpoints and its helped to enrichen the field and hopefully expand our knowledge and compassion. I think that there will always be those people who cling to the idea that if a top 5 publisher didn’t take your work and you’re not pulling in a 6-figure check plus royalties, then you’re not really a writer and your work must not be good. I think that when we put capitalism in charge of art, we all lose out and it narrows our collective experience. I think other people are starting to see that too. I may not ever be nationally recognized for my writing, or have movies made from my work, but the love and joy I get from sharing it in any venue I can increases the positive and artistic energy in the world. I read something recently that said we should not try to monetize our passions. That we don’t have to hustle and make money on what we love to do, for it to be worthy of our time. I think that self-publishing is perfectly acceptable as long as we’re putting out our best work.
M.- Do you think Masticadores’s bet in the search for that digital reader is correct? What’s your
opinion about it?
I’m not sure I understand this one…but I think that the reach and influence of what Masticadores is doing is a powerful tool to help bring together writers from many different countries and backgrounds and create this world-wide pool of readers. I love that it opens up different material and work for so many people and helps writers to reach a larger audience. I am often late in getting my posts into Juan (but that’s my fault due to the busy life outside my writing) but he is always good about finding something to share. I think it’s a beautiful and supportive environment and a very innovative system.
M.-Participation as a writer in Masticadores, is it being positive? What has it given you?
It has been very positive for me. It’s exposed me to new writers and I’ve become fans of some of the other members and their work. I feel like it does a good job pulling from different walks of life and has expanded my viewpoint. I think its genuinely awesome that my work gets to markets and readers that I couldn’t have reached on my own. It all at once shrinks and expands the world for me and I’m very pleased to be a part of it.
M.- What would you say is your hallmark as a writer?
I would hope that readers see me as someone who is honest, funny, and heartfelt. I have put myself out there through some pretty dark works and been honest about things that have affected me. But I always try to keep a center of light to my work and my voice. That is to say, I come back to hope. Even in our darkest of times we are beautiful little disasters and we share this with one another. I would hope I am inspiring and funny, fallible and compassionate.
M.-Tell us about your latest project. Are you working on a new one today?
Currently I’m working on finial edits for a series of three novels set in my home state of Wyoming. Those books are in the hands of my beta readers now and I’m getting feedback that’s helping me tighten up the stories and make them sharper. Then they’re going to the editor to be refined before I publish. I am also working with an amazing group of poets and writers on a poetry anthology through my website “The Beautiful Stuff Blog” that should be finished sometime in October. Submissions are still open for that if anyone is interested. I have a possible space-novella podcast coming out around December and I’m over the moon thrilled about it. I am also preparing to take my 2nd Degree Black Belt test the first week in August, so wish me luck on that.
Note: if you have an edited blog or books, you can attach the links below.
My Blog: The Beautiful Stuff
My Author Site on Amazon: S. E. Reichert
Facebook Link: Author Page Facebook