When did you first feel like a ‘real’ writer?
In some ways, that’s a trick question! I came to published writing through the back door, so for most of my writing life, publication wasn’t the sought-after validation it is for most writers. I wrote because I loved it and was reasonably proficient at it, and that was always good enough for me. But when I did decide to pursue publication, I suddenly entered a brand new world of trepidation, frustration, and insecurity. Mostly, it’s an up-and-down roller coaster, even now that I have two books published. If I had to put a date on my validation as a writer, it would probably be the publication of my second novel Behold the Dawn (http://www.kmweiland.com/books_BTD.php) and its overwhelmingly encouraging reception by readers.
What, for you, is the hardest part of writing a novel?
The beginning, no bones about it. Even though I’m an in-depth outliner and always know what’s supposed to happen at every step of the story, the first fifty pages are murder to write. I have enough perfectionist blood in my veins that I have to get it right before moving on, and as most authors know, beginnings are always tough to get right, if only because they are so important.
How long has it taken you to produce a finished novel?
As a general rule, a novel—from outline to publication—takes me three to four years. I usually plan a year for brainstorming, outlining, and researching; a year for writing; and another year or two for editing. I’m much more interested in spending the time to perfect a story, rather than churning one out every year.
Do you have a writing style or genre?
Technically, I write historical and speculative fiction, but most of my stories seem to fall into what I laughingly call the “blood and thunder” genre. All of my published stories have centered around a war (land wars in A Man Called Outlaw (http://www.kmweiland.com/books_AMCO.php), the Third Crusade in Behold the Dawn, a fictional conflict in my upcoming fantasy Dreamers (http://www.kmweiland.com/WIPs.php#dreamers), and World War I in my work-in-progress The Deepest Breath (http://www.kmweiland.com/WIPs.php#deepest). They’re usually stories of good vs. evil, with lots of swashbuckling and a little romance thrown in.
Over the last several years, I’ve been sharing writing tips and essays about the writing life on my blog Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors (http://wordplay-kmweiland.blogspot.com). Posts on inspiration and fighting writer’s block have always been some of my most popular posts. It’s ironic, really: Here we are, a bunch of people who discovered this whole writing business because one day we woke up inspired with an idea for a story—and yet consistent inspiration is something most of us struggle with on almost a daily basis. I wanted to put together a presentation that shared some of my own tricks for encouraging inspiration. Thanks to the Wordplay podcast, I already had some experience with audio productions and thought it would be an interesting adventure to create a CD that would be accessible and helpful to others.
Who would benefit from Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration?
If you’ve ever sat down at your computer and stared at the cursor—or avoided sitting down at the computer so you didn’t have to look at that infernal blank page—then you will probably relate to what I discuss in the CD. Basically, Conquering Writer’s Block is aimed at writers who want to nurture a creative lifestyle, prevent writer’s block from ever attacking, and learn how to ward it off when it does appear.
Can you download it to your iPod?
Absolutely! You can either purchase the hardcopy (http://www.kmweiland.com/books_CWBASI.php) or download the tracks (http://www.kmweiland.com/store.php#conquering).
Could you share one pearl of wisdom from your current Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration?
On my blog, I often talk about how “variety is the spice of fiction.” That applies to how writers approach their craft just as much as the words and techniques they put on the page. Some of us (myself included) thrive on routine and schedules. But the muse is a free-spirited critter, and changing up our routine a little can sometimes works wonders in boosting creativity. Find a new writing spot—under a tree, at a café, in the backseat of the car. If you write on the computer, try writing longhand. If you always listen to Mozart when writing, try something radically different such as metal or bluegrass. Adding a little change to our routines can shake our snoozing creativity awake, even if we eventually decide to go back to the old habits.
What have you read lately that you simply must recommend?
Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn is the first fiction book in ages that I’ve awarded a five-star rating. It was lip-smackingly good: great characters, great setting, great premise. I loved it. At the moment, I’m just finishing up Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride, and I’m blown away by the depth and power of her writing. The woman is a genius. She not only gave me a great story, she inspired me to greater heights in my own writing.
I hope you've enjoyed this interview with K M Weiland! I know I've learned a lot, and am eagerly awaiting my CD from Amazon to put on my handy-dandy iPod (I can't download MP3s from Amazon because I'm in Australia), I'll blog about the CD once I've heard all the great advice. If you'd like to know more about this author, you could visit her blog:
K.M. Weiland writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in the sandhills of western Nebraska. She enjoys mentoring other authors through her writing tips, editing services, workshops, and her recently released instructional CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration.