I want to thank Megan for answering my questions. You can read more about her writing at her author site or more about her professional work here.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
When I was in junior high, I was always excited when we had creative writing projects and wrote short stories. I was one of those kids who were bullied so when I’d go home, writing was my escape. I got good feedback from trusted friends and it just built up my confidence. This was also when I was developing my interest in movies and television, so I put them together and got interested in screenwriting. I taught myself through library books and had grand plans to sell a screenplay as soon as possible, leave high school, and be famous. Thankfully, that plan didn’t work out. I floundered a bit after high school until I was twenty-three and started college. I learned several forms of writing including screenwriting, TV script writing, poetry, and short fiction. During my last year of school, I discovered that I am interested in writing novels more. Someday, I’d love to write a screenplay but my passion lies in narrative fiction these days.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
I still feel like I’m learning because I spent most of my college education on a path to Screenwriting, so those were the classes I took. I minored in film so I took a lot of film classes but only a few literature classes. So I still at times feel like I have the mind of a filmmaker when I should be thinking more like a novelist. I’ll spend half a page on a scene when I should be fleshing it out over more pages. I’m starting to get into that mindset. On the other hand, my screenwriting background helps me a lot as a novelist. In a screenplay, you have a small amount of space to work in to keep the action going. In a novel, I can spend more time and hang out with the characters a bit more. When I write the first draft, I just write. I do have an outline (I can’t write without one), but I just toss everything in and fix it in editing. When I’m editing, I can tell quickly what action is moving the story forward and what action is bringing the story down, thanks to my screenwriting training.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Writing description is probably the hardest for me. I either do too much or not enough. I’m great at picturing what I want to describe but it’s sometimes hard to translate that into words. I feel like I get better with each draft and each story I write. I feel like each one will be better than the next just because I learn something new each time I write. I hope my readers will be patient with me. So far, the ones who’ve read my work have had nice things to say. I don’t know that I will ever be fully content with what I write, but I do what I can to make sure that I am at least entertaining and people will want to come back for the next story.
Does your writing include any research? If so, why/why not, and can you talk about why you made that choice.
I research as much as I can, especially if I’m writing about an established world that I haven’t been a part of. In the book I’m publishing next year, Betsy Stumbles Along, the main character is the makeup artist on a TV show. I’ve never been a makeup artist on a TV show but I did some research about makeup artists, I watched some behind the scenes stuff about makeup effects, and I watched a few medical shows (because the show she works on is a medical drama). I also took TV Writing classes from someone who was in the industry for over a decade. We studied not just writing, but the industry of TV as well, so I incorporated some of what I learned into the novel. I try to understand the world I’m in as much as I can. For a novel I’m writing now, it involves the aftermath of a car accident, so I researched the treatment and healing process for the types of injuries sustained. When I do research, I often find elements to add that I didn’t think about. I can’t promise accuracy from any of my research, but I at least try to have a basic understanding of the world I’m entering into. With the internet and so many blogs, news sites, magazines, and so on, there are so many ways to research a topic without leaving your office. There are times when I’ll stop in the middle of writing to do some quick research or even ask my friends online for insight. I know so many people from so many walks of life that I can get some of my questions answered pretty quickly.
Do you think your writing would be good for a book club? Why/why not?
I would love for a book club to want to discuss my work. I try to write from relatable places. Betsy Stumbles Along has themes of balancing professional and personal lives as well as some moral questions that could lead to great discussion. It’s pretty light, but I have other books that I’m working on that could lead to heavier discussion. Everything from blended families to dating after a spouse dies to contemplating infidelity.
Do you think there is a certain “achievement” a person must “unlock” before she can call herself a writer?
I think once you put pen to paper, you’re a writer. I think that being consistent and realistic is most important. The one piece of advice I give to writers all the time is “If you’re in it for the money, find something else to do.” I consider myself to be a professional writer because I’m on a path to publication and occasionally pick up freelance work. I have not made a dime as a writer yet. That doesn’t change things. My friends see me as a writer. When I’m asked what I do for work, I say I’m a writer. I have business cards. I write every day (with a few exceptions). I also know people who write for themselves and occasionally share their work. They’re still writers. Anyone who puts in the work and makes an effort is a writer. There are just varying degrees of what that looks like.