11 responses to “William A. Souder Interview”

  1. Harrison Solow

    Intriguing questions, intriguing answers. Looking forward to the Rachel Carson book (Congratulations, William!) Many attitude similarities but a divergent reading list, except for Elements of Style and On Writing Well, to which I would add Brenda Ueland’s more obscure and until recently out of print If You Want to Write). I was particularly interested in the journalism and narrative nonfiction discussion. Just altogether a great interview. Rereading – and sharing. ~ H

    1. William Souder

      Harrison…thanks so much. And I’m going to check out the Ueland book.

  2. Stan Sessions

    Enjoyed reading your interview and about your view of things, how you go about writing, etc.

    1. William Souder

      Hi Stan…great to hear from you as always. Although I AM pretty disciplined about writing I probably made it all seem easier and more fun than it often is. One thing I left out is luck. It helps to be lucky…with everything from your choice of subject to stumbling onto exactly the right word at the right moment. I never know how that happens, but sometimes it does.

      Another thing I left out is that I print out the manuscript as I go, and keep it in a box on my desk right next to where I’m working. On the first day of work on a book only a few meager pages lie at the bottom of the box when I’m done. But gradually the pile gets higher and becomes an encouraging sign. Oh hell, I still love print.

  3. Dick Cummins

    I’ve been carrying around Mark Twain’s autobiography to dental, derm and gastro appointments for several weeks and may have gotten a hernia from it.

    Wish they’d excise all the footnotes, references, op cits and ibids and scrap half the scholarship—think The Hulk could get a hernia the way it is too (anyone remember the Osborne or KayPro’s “portable” computers of the mid ’80s? Called them “lunchbox” computers and “luggables”).

    I digress—a common and likeable tendency of unstructured and unstructurable word addicts.

    This from Mark Twain about his frustration trying to write his autobiography in a chronological order; his advice: “Start at no particular time of your life—wander at your free will all over your life; talk only about the thing that interests you for the moment; drop it at the moment its interest starts to pale.”

    And then he added, “It’s the first time in history such a method has been discovered.” Another comment: (Hirst says):. “And if you look at any of (his) books, you’ll see this method of digression, even in Huck Finn—basically it’s a trip with digressions, strung off it like beads, beads on a string.”

    I love digressions.

    And – BTW – Harrison mentioned Brenda Ueland’s wonderful book (written in 1936 I believe – don’t let this deter you) titled ‘If You Want to Write – A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit. It was recommended to me last year by a high school classmate who lives on an island in the San Juans in Washington state. Her talent is painting and she found the book an inspiration. I did too. Think this a must read (and yes Eric – a must re-read) for any scribbler. I pick it up every time my internal weather is not in sync with the external here in San Diego and she gets me back on my writing beach, slathering on the lotion.

    Sample chapters – “Why Women Who Do Too Much Housework Should Neglect It for Writing” and “Keep a Slovenly, Headlong, Impulsive, Honest Diary”

    I re-read that latter chapter often as I relate to “slovenly’”. “Resemble,” my wife just said, reading and criticizing this response over my shoulder. But doesn’t everyone need a Maxine Perkins now and then? Cheers dc

  4. Diane Prokop

    I love that you think “Writers should look askance at everything.” I agree. Really looking forward to your book. I want to know what made Rachel Carson who she was. This book will be an important contribution to the environmental conversation.

  5. William Souder

    Thanks, Diane. Matter of weeks now.

  6. Tad Simons

    Great interview, Bill. I’m reading On a Farther Shore now. I never had a real appreciation for how influential she was. Liked the part above about how you write. I run into a lot of young people who think writing is about doing the right drugs, racking up a bunch of crazy experiences, and seizing inspiration when it strikes. Kind of deflates them when I tell them that, unfortunately, professionals can’t sit around waiting for inspiration——so it’s all about discipline and routine, forcing yourself to work no matter what you feel like, and trusting that if you sit your ass down for three or four hours, something worthwhile will come out. Patience is the other thing: good writers care about language, and are willing to sit and stare at the screen for an hour trying to come up with the right word——to say nothing of the right sentence or paragraph. You’re one of the good ones, so every sentence is a pleasure. Good luck with the book——I’ll do what I can to get the word out.

  7. William Souder

    Thanks, Tad…and great point about patience. You have to be able to banish frustration when you’re writing because it’s hard to think straight when you’re angry with yourself. Inevitably you’re going to have some days when it just doesn’t come and the important thing is to take these slowdowns in stride and come back harder the next day. With luck it evens out over time. Most of the “inspired” ideas that come to me when I’m not writing end up being useless. The muse, if there is one, lives inside my workday.

  8. Julie Hart

    Great to hear about your work schedule, and you’re right, we all want to share that part of how we do what we do.
    Nice meeting you last night at the tweet up and looking forward to the Carson bio.
    Thanks again.

  9. William Souder

    Same here, Julie…see you at next month’s confab maybe.