This is the third of a series of interviews with like-minded writers about their writing process, new works and advice for other writers. Today, I’m interviewing Devin Harnois, my good writing buddy, National Novel Writing Month co-conspirator, and beta reader. She’s the author of three published novels and stories: Darkness at Dawn, Through the Fire, and Chained, with more brainchildren on the way. (Part 1, One Writer’s Story, is here, and Part 2, All My Brainchildren, is here. For snippets from all of the works discussed, see Devin’s Six Sentence Sunday blog entries.)
E. P. Beaumont: There are tons of ‘how to write’ books out there. Do you have any particular ones you consider indispensable?
Devin Harnois: Stephen King’s On Writing. I recommend that to everyone.
And if you appreciate the wacky, Chris Baty’s No Plot? No Problem! (the official NaNoWriMo book).
E. P. Beaumont: I love that one. I particularly enjoyed the part about hauling all of the coffee cups and uneaten animal carcasses out of your work area at the end of the day… so they couldn’t be seen.
Devin Harnois: Yes, so true. So much sage wisdom in Baty’s book.
E. P. Beaumont: And it’s fall-down funny. King’s book: what I remember best is the comparison of writing to telepathy. And waiting six weeks before you look at your manuscript… during which time your beta readers can be looking at it. And the advice to pay attention if more than one person says the same thing about your story independently. That was a great book
Devin Harnois: Yeah, I love that book. I’ve read it four or five times, and I rarely re-read books. A lot of good advice in there (but as with everything, see if it works for you, don’t follow it like an unbreakable code).
E. P. Beaumont: There are no unbreakable codes.
Devin Harnois: Indeed. And every writer is different.
E. P. Beaumont: What was the most important thing in your training (or self-training) as a writer?
Devin Harnois: Hmm … I’d say writing more books. All the tips and writing advice books in the world are not nearly as helpful as writing the next book (or short story). I learned way more by writing books 2, 3, etcetera, than I ever would have learned rewriting/editing/rewriting/fiddling with book 1.
By writing something new, I could then go back to the earlier book and see it with fresher eyes and the knowledge I’d gained.
E. P. Beaumont: The practice school of writing.
Devin Harnois: Absolutely.
That’s what I’d tell someone that finished their first novel: “Congratulations! Now write another one.”
E. P. Beaumont: Absolutely.Besides, there are always more ideas out there, and it would be a shame to miss your rendezvous with them.
D evin Harnois: Oh God, yes. That’s part of why I don’t like editing. I’d rather work on something new.
E. P. Beaumont: But you do it anyway…
Devin Harnois: Yes, I suffer for my art.
E. P. Beaumont: 🙂 But you don’t angst about it.
Devin Harnois: Not too much, at least.
E. P. Beaumont: One last question, which we’ll cover in detail in a later interview: what’s your take on traditional publishing vs self-publishing?
Devin Harnois: I love self publishing. I’m a bit of a control freak, so getting to do things exactly how I want to is great. So is not giving away most of the profits. The contract terms I’ve seen for most traditional publishers are horrible. There are very, very few I’d consider (I’ve worked with Samhain before and I would again because they’re great). I want to be able to protect my work, to control what rights I give to a publisher and for how long. You want all rights for life of copyright? Maybe for a gajillion dollars. Otherwise, no.
E. P. Beaumont: Control freaks unite.
Devin Harnois: Yep.