Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?
I have a small office next to my attic. It’s a very old house and a very modest office, but I have a table to write and shelves for my books.
What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?
I do almost everything on the computer. I maintain files of story ideas, then build from that. In writing workshops (including some I facilitate) I write in a few favorite notebooks, always in pen, as I hate the feel of pencil for some reason.
What is your routine for writing?
I work full-time, so I write in the early morning. I try to get an hour in each weekday then perhaps two hours on one of the weekend days. I have to use some of that time for submissions and correspondence, so it’s not all productive writing time.
How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?
I have been writing since college, which I started 40 years ago this month. I did a BA in English and an MA in Writing, but then raised a family. While I did quite a bit of professional writing over those years, including co-writing two technical books, I only returned to creative writing in earnest in November of 2014. I finished a novel and have written a number of short stories in that time.
Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?
I imagine someone who, like me, loves short fiction especially. I read widely, but nothing is more satisfying to read than a well-crafted short story. I hope that my stories evoke that kind of response in my reader.
What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?
I look for germs of stories all of the time, including in my reading, anecdotes I hear about, things in the news. The story here, “First Day,” was inspired in part by something that happened to a teacher I know but then I took the action of the story much further. If I am blocked, I read old newspapers and look for some interesting story or detail. The opportunities are endless.
What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?
I sing choral music and have begun to sing with an a capella group. It’s fun but it’s also a new intellectual challenge, honestly. It forces me to think in a way I rarely have.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
I like thinking through the arc of the story—who the characters are and what is propelling the action of the story. When I find something that I think is real and compelling about them, I feel that I can move the story along. It’s very satisfying though sometimes it involves a lot of sitting and staring at the wall.
What is your advice to aspiring writers?
I think we all have rich experiences and ideas to tap into. When I teach writing, I encourage students to mine their experiences and to find the stories in them. As to the publishing process, prepare for things to take a long time and to get many rejections before you find places that will publish your work. If it helps to have a community of writers, seek one out. There are many venues.
Check out Bill’s work in the issue Volume 3, Issue 2 (Pushcart Nominee).