A “Selfie” Interview

chin selfieMy October writing challenge has ended, so I thought I’d spend some time reflecting on this month-long adventure.  An interview format made sense to me even though it might seem weird.  Yes, I am talking to myself.  And yes, I am even answering myself.  Please just humor me and resist any urge to call the authorities.  Your willingness to play along is greatly appreciated!

Me: Why did you decide to participate in the Writer’s Digest October Platform Challenge?

Myself: It’s kind of a long story.  Luckily you can read all about it in my first blog post, “Stories.”

Me: Oh, yes, serendipitous emails, stars aligned, etc. Tell us about the writing goals you were able to accomplish during the month.

Myself: The biggest goal was simply to get started, and I did accomplish that.  I have a website, my own domain name (idabethgeschke.com), and a blog.  I am particularly proud that I have been able post consistently.  I was worried I might get busy with other things and drift away from writing blog posts.

I: Don’t get too cocky.  It’s only been four weeks.  Still plenty of time to get distracted by other things.  You know how that goes!

Me (ignoring I): What goals do you still hope to accomplish?

Myself (also ignoring I): I want to increase traffic to my website and blog.  That will take a lot of PR work which is difficult for me.  I’m not a big fan of self-promotion or social media.  Learning to navigate beyond Facebook is quite a challenge.  I also want to spend more time as a participant in the writing community.  There are so many great writers out there, and I know I can learn a lot by interacting with them online and in person.

I: As long as we’re talking about goals, let’s not forget about cleaning out the garage and saving more money.

Myself: We’re talking about writing goals.

I: Hey, goals are goals.  Just sayin’.

Me: Speaking of money, do you think you will eventually make money with your writing?

Myself: I’ve learned that when you do something for money it becomes a “job,” which can often be the opposite of “fun.”  I guess it would be nice to supplement my income with my writing, but it would need to be a happy accident rather than a goal.

I: What?  No money?

Me: I get it.  You want to focus on the joy of writing without the pressure of making it a profitable business.  What was your favorite part of the writing challenge?

Myself: Without question, my favorite part of the challenge was getting feedback from readers.   People have been so positive and encouraging.  Their support has motivated me to keep writing each week and to expand my goals to include new projects.

Me: Please, tell us about these new projects.

Myself: Well, I enjoyed the October challenge so much, I’ve signed up to do another challenge in November.  This one is more about the actual writing rather than building an author platform.  The goal will be to write a nonfiction book in 30 days.

I: Thirty days?  No way!

Me: I have to agree.  One month seems like a very short amount of time.  How will you accomplish such a task?

Myself: To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure.  I’m looking forward to seeing the instructional materials and prompts that will propel me toward a completed first draft.  Revising, editing, and possible publication will happen after the 30 days.  It’s a short book, so that should help.

Me: What is this short book about?

Myself: It’s a holiday book for children and their families.  Stay tuned to the website and social media for more as the project develops.

Me: I can’t wait to hear about your November challenge and to read your new book.  I wish you continued success with your writing projects.  Thank you for sharing your thoughts today.

Myself: It was my pleasure.

I: Thirty days?  No money?  Seriously?

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Dudley Johnson, Storyteller

texas stories

“Big Magic” happened again.  If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve been participating in the Writer’s Digest October Platform Challenge.  Sunday’s assignment was to interview an expert for a blog post.  My initial reaction was, “On a Sunday?  Are you kidding me?  Where am I going to find an expert on a Sunday?”  Almost immediately, I dismissed the idea as impossible, at least as far as it happening on Sunday.  Even if I did pursue the idea, I was pretty sure I would need to define “expert” differently than most people might.  And that’s exactly where I left it.  Or at least I thought I was leaving it.

On the way to church I mentioned it to my mother.  Again, I questioned, “Where am I going to find an expert on a Sunday?”  She didn’t have an answer, of course, but she listened as I processed my idea of “expert.”  I didn’t think I was really ready to contact a writing expert, someone who earns a living in the writing/editing/publishing world.  That seemed far too intimidating, and I knew I would have a lengthy wait for a response.  If I was going to maintain momentum in this challenge, I needed it to happen quickly.  So, I shifted my focus.  Since my blog is really a “stage” for stories, maybe I could find a storyteller, someone local who could share something of interest with my readers and me.  I even had a couple of people in mind.  And that’s where I thought I was leaving it again, because, “Where am I going to find an expert on a Sunday?”

As I entered the sanctuary at church, I was greeted by a fellow congregant who eagerly announced to all who entered that another church member, Dudley Johnson, had written a book.   Exciting news to be sure, but then I saw the title, Collection of Texas Stories!  Not a novel.  Not a self-help book.  Not a memoir.  Stories!  I had found my expert.  On a Sunday, no less!

It was clear from the beginning of our conversation that Dudley was not comfortable with the idea of being an expert.  He made sure I understood this was his first book.  “Expert,” it turns out, is a relative term.  I reasoned that if he had gone through the process of telling those stories from first thought to hard cover, glossy dust jacket, name-on-the-front, book in his hand, then he was much closer to being an expert than I was.

While he was not too keen on his sudden elevation to “expert,” Dudley seemed just fine with helping out a fellow writer in need of material and graciously agreed to an email interview.  Here’s what he had to offer about his own storytelling, writing, and publishing adventure:

IBG: Tell us a little about yourself and your careers other than writing.

DJ: I was born in Karnes County, Texas.  Karnes County is about half way between Corpus Christi and San Antonio. I grew up in the farm and ranch business.  My father put me on my first horse when I was 18 months old.  Over the years I did just about anything you can do using horses.

My life in the petrochemical industry started at the bottom and worked my way up the ladder to being a pipeline consultant with customers in Europe and South America.  The last “big” contract was to commission an ethylene pipeline in Brazil. The line is 300 hundred miles long.  I hired a business friend of mine that developed a new process of commissioning ethylene pipelines.  We had no way of knowing if his process would work.  It did, and we were the first in the world to use it.  Today everyone in that industry uses that process.

IBG: Do you consider yourself a writer, a storyteller, or both?

DJ: At this point I consider myself as a story teller that cannot speak due to being a throat cancer survivor.  So I write.  It isn’t as pleasant as sitting around a warm camp fire with a good cup of coffee on a chilly night at deer camp telling stories.

IBG: How did you become interested in storytelling and writing?

DJ: It has been my ambition to write ever since high school.  There was never enough time to write raising a family and working.

IBG: Share a little bit about how you developed that interest into the beautiful book I held in my hands this morning.

DJ: I love Texas history and consider myself very knowledgeable about early Texas.  Also some of these stories are based on things that I have been involved in.

IBG: You told me you always write two books at once.  Can you tell me a little bit more about that and/or anything else about your writing process?

DJ: I decided early on in writing one story that when I would hit a time that the story just stopped, I would walk away and come back later then start again.  I compare it with working a jigsaw puzzle.  Sometimes you have to walk off and come back later to find the right piece. It is the same with putting words on paper.

IBG: What are you currently working on?  What can we look forward to next from Dudley Johnson?

DJ: The next book will have two short novels. They are longer than the short stories and more detailed than a short story.  I have completed another novel that is about finding a Spanish Galleon that is overloaded with gold and silver that sunk off the coast of Florida. The story starts with the beginning of the ship leaving Spain going to the “New World.” It ends with modern day treasure hunters looking for it.  I am also working on a historic novel about a family that came to America during the time of the American Revolution.  I have just finished the second generation and am planning on the third generation as the family moves across the American frontier.  Right now I am editing the last three books.

I enjoyed getting to know Dudley Johnson, and I am looking forward to purchasing my own copy of Collection of Texas Stories. You can get yours too at Xlibris.com, Amazon.com, or BarnesandNoble.com.  Hardback, paperback, and ebook are all available.

Don’t forget, if you have a story to share, please do so in the comments.  It can be short, long, sweet, funny, sad, with a moral or without.  Every story deserves to be told!