The RMFW Spotlight feature will introduce a few of our RMFW officers and volunteers. We started out with the board of directors, sat them in the hot seat, shined the bright light on them, and channeling our best inner Oprah, plugged them with a few questions. Here’s what we learned from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Membership Chair, Bree Ervin.
I’m the Membership Chair for RMFW. Mostly it means I help people login to the website and renew/join (Sorry – it’ll get better, I swear!). I’m hoping that as we get the website working better – yes, really, I’ll be able to spend more time reaching out to members new and old and talking about what you all want from a modern RMFW.
I got involved because I have had so many great experiences with RMFW and I am a big fat geek who LOVES to share the things I love. The best way for me to do that was to become membership chair so that I could reach out to others and share the awesome organization that is RMFW.
2. What is your current WIP or most recent publication, and where can we buy a book, if available?
I have a couple of works in progress. I tend to bounce around a lot. My kids have told me it’s time to start shopping my picture books again and I have a YA that is in its last round of revisions before I start shopping it. I’m also working on a middle grade fantasy and some non-fiction.
3. We've all heard of bucket lists-- you know, those life-wish lists of experiences, dreams or goals we want to accomplish-- what's one of yours?
The most immediate item on the list is a trip to Paris with my girlgoyels. I’ve promised them a trip and now I have to make good on it.
I also want to sail around the world, but I have to wait until my husband dies because he freaks out when he can’t see land. The upside of that is I’ll probably get to claim the record for the oldest person to sail around the world. So good things come to those who wait, I guess.
Revising. I actually love revising. I’m an editor in my day job, so that kind of work excites me. BUT… I have a hard time motivating to revise my own work. There’s a huge part of me that’s like, “Okay, I finished that story, I know how it ends, moving on…” I have to really struggle to get my butt back in the chair to make it better and make it publishable once the joy of discovery is gone. I need to find a way to flip the switch on that and convince myself that there is still more to discover in the story and in the characters. (And it’s true, every revision reveals a new layer, a missed detail, another key that goes deeper into the heart of the story.)
5. What do you love most about the writing life?
I’ve always been a story teller. My first sentence was a carefully crafted “lie.” I love creating new people, new worlds and new spaces in this world. I love connecting the dots and showing people new ways of seeing old things.
One of my college professors said (speaking about scientists), “The task is not so much to see what no one has seen, but to think what no one has thought about that which everybody sees.” I think that holds doubly true for writers, and artists in general – and that is the real pleasure of writing for me, taking what everyone sees and knows to be true, and then showing the other side. (For the record, I have had that quote taped above my desk as a reminder ever since.)
6. Now that you have a little writing experience, what advice would you go back and give yourself as a beginning writer?
Take yourself seriously. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you that you’re a writer, or give you permission to call yourself a writer – that doesn’t come from anyone else, that’s inside you. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you how to be a writer – their process is theirs. Trust your own way. And always, always, always, write your heart.
I’m a bit of a wanderer. My desk is a hot mess, so if the weather is nice I take my laptop out to my tipi. If it’s cold, I’ll work at the breakfast bar – close to the tea kettle! Really, where ever my laptop is, that’s my desk. Except when I write on my phone. Or in a notebook. Hmm… Can I take a picture of my brain – that’s where the stories live, that’s where the work gets done.
It helps when the kitten sits on my lap because she won’t let me get up, even to pee, until I get at least 1,000 words down. It’s like she has a magic way of keeping track of my word count. 1,000 and it’s time to stretch. Then the big cat takes a turn. She’s pretty demanding too.
8. What book are you currently reading (or what was the last one you read)?
For pleasure I’m reading Asphalt Warrior by Gary Reilly (published posthumously with help from RMFW president Mark Stevens.) It’s a fabulous, humorous, spot on commentary on humanity from the point of view of a Denver cab driver.
For research I’m reading Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape Ed. by Jaclyn Friedman & Jessica Valenti which is an amazing collection of essays, articles and calls to action. I fall asleep so empowered after reading it. (But hard to read in public, lots of alternating between crying and jumping up shouting “YES!” at inappropriate times.)
My kids and I are reading Double Vision: Code Name 711 by F.T. Bradley, which is a really fun middle grade spy novel, sort of Da Vinci Code for kids. The first book in the series was set in Paris, this one is set in DC. We just started it, but we love this author.
Here’s a picture of my “read next” shelves. Top shelf is research, bottom shelf is pleasure. (There are two more large shelves of unread books off screen, but these are the priority cases!)
Thanks for sharing with us, Bree. I'm happy to hear I'm not the only one whose writing life is scheduled by her cat.
You can cyber-stalk Bree on Twitter and Facebook. Anyone who wants to get ranty with her is invited to stop by her blog Think Banned Thoughts. And, Bree adds, if you're having trouble logging in to the website, drop her a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.