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November 30th, 2007

Morton as guest speaker

Last night I attended a signing for the new anthology Sporty Spec: Games of the Fantastic at Mystery and Imagination Bookshop in Glendale, and ended up spending my evening as a (surprise) guest speaker.

It wasn't even for the signing. I'd forgotten that Dennis Etchison teaches a writing class every Thursday night at the same store. For a few minutes, I had the surreal experience of being sandwiched halfway between readers from the anthology and Dennis talking to his class. Then during a break, Dennis spotted me and dragged me upstairs to his class.

Nothing like trying to give words of wisdom to a group that includes, among others, Stephen Woodworth (author of the excellent Through Violet Eyes series). Here are a few of the questions and my answers:

Q: How do you deal with writer's block?
A: It depends on what kind of block. If it's the kind that comes halfway through something you're working on, or at the end, it means there's something wrong with the beginning. (To which Dennis exclaimed: "AHA! That's what I told them last week! I swear Lisa's never heard me say that!")

Q: Do you plan every story in advance, or just start writing and see where it goes?
A: By the time I start writing a short story, it's just transcription. I've written the story so thoroughly in my head that it's just putting the final words on paper.

And here's the one that always provokes a collective abashed hanging of heads:

Q: How do you find the time to write?
A: I don't watch television.

(Even Dennis had to mutter in shame at that.)