Todays interview is with David Lawrence. David is an author who likes to mix up his writing – long and short, fiction and non-fiction, stories and poetry. A good collection of his work, showcasing his many different styles, is his book infinitebook: From Web to Page. You can find out more about David, and what he is currently working on, by visiting his website.
JGA: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, David. To start with, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got started writing?
DL: Thank you for having me. I think it would be safe to say that I always wanted to write, even before I knew what writing was. As a very young child – before I had any real grasp of the English language – I used to babble in sentences. The adults never seemed to understand me, but apparently I had something important to share. I graduated to actual pen and paper when I entered grade school, and even entered a couple of fiction contests. I continued to write – mostly for my own amusement – throughout the rest of my scholastic years… and beyond. Earned a B.A. in English in ’92, but didn’t really feel like I had the writing chops to warrant publication. Because of this, I didn’t feel ready to write my first (and so far only) novel until I’d turned 30. And even though I self-published that work in ’04, it still wasn’t ready for publication. Not really. But I’m okay with that, as it helped me own up to what I’d known all along, which is that I am a writer, through and through, even if it wasn’t a masterpiece.
JGA: How do you go about the actual process of writing?
DL: I’ve two ways to answer this question. The first has to do with thinking like a writer, which is something I do all the time, which means that it can (and does) happen anywhere and anytime. I’m always framing the world around me in terms of story. But that’s not exactly what you were asking, so I will now jump to my second answer, which is to say that I typically write in my room on my desktop computer (which these days happens to be a Mac Mini). I rarely feel the need to adhere to any kind of writing schedule, as my days tend to be flexible enough that I can write based on inspiration rather than expectation. Still, when I have a project big enough to feel overwhelming, then I do set up a loose schedule of sorts to encourage myself to stay focused.
JGA: How do you personally like to read your books these days?
DL: Sadly, I’ve fallen out of the habit of reading fiction. These days most of my reading is of the non-fiction print variety. I like books that teach me things.
JGA: Which authors (or books) have had the most influence on your writing style, and why?
DL: Huh. I’m going to give you the name of a brilliant author whose influence on my personal writing style I had to overcome more than embrace: Thomas Pynchon. He has a tendency to write sentences that never end. Beautiful sentences, but somehow outside my artistic range. Which is fine. Because I can still convey just as much meaning as he does, but with simpler sentences and fewer words. But I had to work at that, work on honing my own particular writing style, which means I eventually had to step out of his shadow (which is quite big).
JGA: You’ve focused on writing shorter pieces so far. What is it that appeals to you about the shorter form, and how did you get started writing them?
DL: The shortest form I write is poetry, particularly the haiku, and this appeals to me because it requires great precision to convey more with less. I got started writing poetry when I found myself struck with too many beautiful ideas and not enough time (to write a novel). I wanted to share these insights as quickly and succinctly as possible, and poetry was (and still is) just the ticket.
JGA: I can relate to having too many ideas, and not enough time! How do you go about planning your writing?
DL: I cover the entire range. On one end of the spectrum, I will sit down and channel words through the process of “automatic writing,” which usually results in an evocative but somewhat unintelligible arrangement of words. And on the other end of the spectrum, like when I am working on a novel, I will outline just about everything, often using a conceptual framework such as a progression of Tarot cards or some other metaphysical map for characters and plot events before composing anything at all in terms of actual writing. For the bulk of my writing, though, I do something in between these two extremes.
DL: I had all this stuff I’d uploaded to my site and blog that I thought needed to be presented in a better, more accessible format. So, I culled the best of the batch, edited it all one last time for print publication, and self-published.
JGA: What sort of reader would “infinitebook: From Web to Page” most appeal to?
DL: An eclectic reader with an open mind. Preferably one who is self-aware and interested in exploring his/her own subjective experience of my words. There is such a wide range of styles in this book that only a handful of readers are going to enjoy everything it has to offer. Most readers, however, will experience a very mixed bag of reactions – from love to hate and everything in between.
JGA: What other items are you working on at the moment?
DL: I’ve got two main projects I’m working on these days. The first is a personal memoir that will intentionally blur the line between fact and fiction. It will also address a number of social hot buttons with uncompromising honesty. I’d tell you more, but don’t want to spoil the surprise. As for my other project, that is a rewrite of my first metaphysical science fiction novel: 22 Stories: Falling Upward through the Tarot. Besides these two main projects, I’m keeping busy with a much smaller miscellany of short stories, poems, and a few other oddball items.
JGA: That sounds like a lot of balls to try and juggle at once! If you could somehow change reality and become the author of any published book instead of the person who originally wrote it, which book would you make your own and why?
DL: I’d have written Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, because then I’d know what it’s like to be a literary genius.
JGA: Is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t asked?
DL: Not really, but I would like to thank you once more for interviewing me on your blog: Thanks!