I am very happy to introduce Tracy Edward Wymer to this week's Friday Feature. I find Tracy to be quietly hilarious. (I guess if I experienced his blog as loudly hilarious, I'd be as confused as this student of his).
Many days I end up chuckling to myself when I read through posts on his blog.
Hi Tracy--Thanks for doing the interview! Why don't you start by telling us a little about yourself.
I was raised a Hoosier. I bleed Crimson, but don't we all? Small towns and basketball. What more is there to life? Apparently a lot. Because after graduating from Indiana, I jetted for the left coast and I'm still here. Honestly, Los Angeles is not my kind of place, but I've got a great job teaching something I'm passionate about: Reading and Writing. I do miss wide open freeways, fields of nothingness, and campfires. But at least I have a rockin' wife and a blonde ambition daughter to make me feel at home. Oh, and we have a boy on the way (in April).
What are you currently working on?
A middle grade novel. Contemporary. Working title is Bird-Man Street. I posted the first chapter on my blog last month and gathered some valuable feedback. I rarely put new (unedited) work out there, but the first couple chapters are too important not to. It's the foundation to build on, and if it's weak, the building will collapse.
What made you start to write seriously?
When I was younger, I read this book called Highpockets, by John Tunis. It's an old book and the language is antiquated, but for some reason I really connected with it. I played baseball, so that helped. Also, I took this awesome creative writing course as a freshman in college. It was my only A first semester, so it made me think, "This writing thing is fun. Why not?" So I started writing prose in notebooks during boring lectures.
After graduating I landed a job as a fourth grade teacher. I started reading every middle grade book I could find. Then I started reading Newbery winners because I wanted to learn from authors who were considered the best. Shortly after the "taking in words like a sponge" stage, I wrote my first middle grade novel.
If you had to pick one favorite blog, what would it be?
I go through severe phases, but I've most recently come to like the Crowe's Nest. It's interesting and well done. I read a ton of blogs, from published and unpublished to agented and unagented writers, but comment on only a few.
What is your favorite blog post that you have written?
Last year a young teacher at my school died unexpectedly. We were friends and talked a lot about sports and beer and life in general. I coped by writing about it. The words fell together in an eerie way. It was therapeutic and healing.
What online resource have you found most helpful?
For writing: When I first started, I hit up The Purple Crayon and joined SCBWI to receive their monthly newsletter. Now many agencies have posted toolboxes for writers, which give you all sorts of clickables.
For agent search: The Guide to Literary Agents blog is full of agent insight and interviews. Literary Rambles is also a great place to find agents who might be a good fit for your work.
What has been your biggest trial in writing?
Refining point of view. My first novel was all over the place. After much research (reading more novels) and enough revisions to fill a dumpster, I learned how to channel my voice through consistent point of view. Still learning. Every day.
What tricks have you acquired to make you write or create when you don’t feel up to writing?
I sit-down with the laptop and open my WIP. I stare at it for a while and then type something awful. I delete it. Type something else. Delete it. Slump shoulders. Check email. Browse blogs. Comment on a few. Read the first few pages of a novel on Amazon for free. Tell myself I can write something just as good. Go back to WIP. Black out the background (Scrivener function) in Full Screen mode. Type a sentence. Read it half a dozen times. Sit up straight. And go.
Tell us about a book that has impacted your writing life.
A Moveable Feast (Hemingway): because he writes about the struggles and act of writing and all the pains that come with living a writer's life. The much-needed alone time, away from the real world, away from friends and family, in order to complete something. He also writes about the pull from your stories and characters, which beg to be written NOW, not later.
What is your practical goal with your writing? Do you have a reach-for-the-stars goal that you would like to share?
I know this is far-reaching, but I'd like to make a living from it someday (wouldn't we all?), because then I'd have more time to write. That being said, I teach writing full-time, and it keeps me learning every day. I discover things about myself and constantly learn from others. The learning never stops, and I don't expect it to. You've got me thinking. I wonder if I'd actually give up teaching. Great benefits. Part-time sounds good to me.
So far, what has been the best part of your writing experience?
A sense of accomplishment after completing a novel. Meeting people (through cyberspace or otherwise) who love to read and write. Learning. It's invigorating.
If you could be a character in a book, and live within their world, what character would you be?
Jonas, from The Giver (by Lois Lowry). In a world of Sameness, it would be a moonshot to be Different. I don't know what that means, but it sounds good.
And, just because I’m curious, coffee or tea?
Coffee. Until my students' noses fall off.
Thanks for answering my questions with such candor, Tracy!
Everyone, please make Tracy feel welcome by writing a question for him in the comments. He'll stop by as his schedule permits.