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First drafts suck. Second drafts hopefully don’t suck as bad, but probably suck a little also. Maybe your third draft will be ready to go, but maybe not.

Interview with M.D. Moore, author of ‘Waiting for the Cool Kind of Crazy’

MooreBook2014_4922M.D. Moore is the author of Waiting for the Cool Kind of Crazy, a family saga that spotlights the adult son of a paranoid schizophrenic mother.  He has worked as a therapist with the most chronically mentally ill patients in Washington State’s largest psychiatric hospital.  He lives in Gig Harbor, Washington, with his wife and two teenage sons. Visit M.D. Moore online at: www.mdmooreauthor.com.

Congratulations on the release of your book, Waiting for the Cool Kind of Crazy. Tell us a little about it.

My story is about a middle-aged son of a paranoid schizophrenic mother who has the problems of the world on his shoulders, but doesn’t have the skills to navigate them all successfully.  He has a mentally ill mother who still is the cause of chaos in his life, a life threatening illness, a failing business, and a host of people who want to see him fail on all fronts.  He also has 2 legal strikes (a third would result in a mandatory life without parole sentence) and anger issues.  He is forced to see a therapist against his better advice who seems to have as many issues as he has.  The only bright spot in his life is his returning high school sweetheart, but even she is just recently divorced from his high school adversary who has the power to destroy what Harmon has worked to build.  The story focuses on how he navigates and untangles the messes of his life to a logical conclusion.

Did your book require a lot of research?  

There’s that adage about writing what you know.  I hate research.  I hated it from early schooling through graduate school so I work to do as little as possible.  For my first book, I wrote what I knew well.  I worked in a psychiatric hospital for several years so writing about mental illness and the chaos it can wreak on a family wasn’t that difficult.  Some of the stuff I didn’t know, I made up.  I did do a little fact checking when the facts were important to get right, but overall, I just shot from the hip.  I mean, if someone is using my book to make an official mental illness diagnosis, they may have a diagnosis themselves.

Waiting for the CoolWhat do you do when your muse refuses to collaborate?

I drudge through my writing day and write anyway.  My muse can be a temperamental little b***h.  She shows when she wants which isn’t very often, making me really work for nearly every word I write.  She and I tend to make up in the editing process when she shows far more often, making some of the prose sound like a writing master wrote it.  I’m usually a little pissed when we start, but by the end of the entire process, we celebrate together.

How do you define success?

Success is different for everyone and only you can answer what you will deem successful.  For me, concerning writing, it was getting my book published by a traditional publisher.  For someone else, it might just be writing a novel length story that one passes down through the generations of his family, publishing be damned.  For someone else, it’s just the process of writing.  I would say that one is successful if one is following their heart in doing something that they love.  Ideally, it would be something that you have to work hard for that makes the endeavor that much more special. 

What do you love most about the writer’s life? 

It gives me the opportunity to do something I love doing and find some amount of reward for hard work done well.  It gives me a dream to chase and an art to tame though never master.  I wouldn’t even want to learn everything there is to know about writing.  Part of the thrill of it all is the lifelong education that writing gives.  One of the main reasons I began writing was to challenge myself beyond the daily crossword puzzle or game of solitaire.  I began writing when I was 37.  I saw writing as a new challenge and publication provided a clear, if not lofty, goal.  Maybe someday I’ll win a major writing prize.  Probably not, but writing provides the foundation for a dream.  When I was a kid, I wanted to be all these amazing things that I didn’t end up doing in my adult life.  Writing is still a kid’s dream that I get to hold onto.

What is your advice for aspiring authors?

In the words of Winston Churchill, “Never never never never give up.”  Writing is hard work, even for very successful and accomplished authors.  First drafts suck.  Second drafts hopefully don’t suck as bad, but probably suck a little also.  Maybe your third draft will be ready to go, but maybe not.  I had no fewer than five drafts of my final iteration of my novel before it was acceptable for publication and I still found things I would change about it when I read it after it was published.  If you can’t seem to nail it, take more classes, read more books, have someone else read it for you or to you, go to another conference, just do something.  If you have a passion for writing and getting a book published is on your bucket list of things you have to do before you die (like it was on mine), then never give up.  You’ll have to work your ass off, but in the end, when you’re holding your book in your hands, you’ll realize that it was worth all the work you put into it.

George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

Wow!  While I could say this applies to my day job at times, I’ve never felt that way about writing.  Can it be exhausting?  Sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s horrible.  Do I feel driven to write?  Absolutely!  It is hard work.  In fact, I would say that it is the hardest task I’ve ever undertaken.  It took me nine years from my first words until I found a publisher to accept my manuscript.  Even if I live to 90 (which I probably won’t), 10% of my life was given to accomplish this task.  Do I understand the demon that pushes me to write?  Not at all – I’m just grateful that he does.  Writing is one of the very few endeavors I do solely for me.  It takes me to a place where my imagination gets to run wild and do things that I’d never be able to do in my administrative position.  It allows me to rip off my shirt and run with the wolves for a little while before buttoning back up and getting to my real life. When writing is done right, it’s about the furthest thing from a horrible, exhausting struggle I can imagine.

Anything else you’d like to tell my readers? 

Like I said above, stick with it.  Especially when you are truly finished with it, your critique group passes it back with no corrections needed, and you get goose bumps when you read your favorite parts, you still have a lot of work in front of you if your ultimate goal is publication.  Hell, the hardest part of your journey may still lie ahead.  The publishing world is extremely competitive and it doesn’t always reward the best writing with juicy writing contracts.  Think of the music industry and Brittney Spears.  Talent isn’t always rewarded and rewards don’t necessarily go to those who are talented.  We all know of a book that is not as good as what you just wrote but you can’t seem to find a buyer.  I had that conversation with myself regularly.  “This tripe isn’t nearly as good as what I just wrote.  I’ll have no problem finding an agent and publisher.”  Ha ha.  Hey, if this keeps you motivated, keep saying it, but know that the work still needs to be done.  That said, when it does happen, and I believe that with enough hard work and endless edits, it will happen, it just means ever so much more so keep writing with all that you have.

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About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.

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