Continuing our “Meet the Authors” series, let me introduce you to independent author Chadwick Wall…
What compelled you to choose the life of a writer?
I believe it chose me. Since I was about five or six, I believed my purpose was to write. That is really when I started to write creatively. My mother taught me to read at age three. Montessori school, I believe, molded my mindset into one of creativity, spontaneity.
Importantly, the life of the writer is rarely the glamorous path Hollywood has often depicted. Most people you run across probably would be happier in business, in sales, in medicine, for example.
The life of the writer is oftentimes one of pervasive loneliness. Many an hour is one of solitude, meditation, fantasy, and routine. And many less exciting activities abound: rereading, rewriting, and editing. You usually have to be obsessive. Maybe even with a bit of ferocity about pushing it all to the finish.
Are there any books on the writers’ craft that you would recommend to other writers?
Several friends and writers in my Novel-In-Progress group here in Austin recommended three classics, and I can’t champion these works enough. Sol Stein’s Stein on Writing. Next, there is The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, by Christopher Vogler. For decades, Hollywood studios had this as required reading for their screenwriters, and for good reason. Finally, there is John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction. I read this one first in high school, I but I first read the other two relatively recently. These three books are just so full of wisdom. They are like gold for an author.
I would even recommend a writer reads all three books every year. Seriously.
What has been your biggest regret as an author?
That I didn’t start earlier. Many writers will choose this reason.
I published a short story in my early twenties, and composed some poems, short stories, and several chapters of two different novels in my teens and twenties. But it wasn’t until my thirties that I wrote and published a full-length novel. If I could turn back the dial, I would surely devote two to three hours a day to creative writing, starting in my mid-twenties.
For years I told myself I needed more life experiences to write compelling novels—that particular form especially. So I concentrated on living. So far, I have lived the full life I sought. But no there is surely no room for delay. And few things make a writer want to devote himself or herself to a daily writing routine than experiencing the exhilaration of publishing a novel, seeing it achieve success, and especially having readers around the world immerse themselves in your entire “fictional dream” you have just published, and write that they enjoyed it.
Should a writer write about what he or she knows?
The old adage is true, yes. But I’ll go one further.
A writer should usually choose to write about that which he or she feels most passionate about. This is good for so many reasons. Among them, the writing will be more authentic. The author will imbue that writing with a healthy dose of heart and soul. Good readers will notice!
Why should I read Water Lessons?
Because it involves a unique protagonist under the influence of two unique mentors, and it examines his experience before, during, and in the aftermath of one of recent history’s most unique situations: Hurricane Katrina. The novel depicts this young man’s struggle after this unique tragedy, and his experiences in one of America’s most unique regions: new England, particularly Boston and Cape Cod. I am confident that I place the reader in both New Orleans and New England in a vivid, real, authentic way. Write about what you know and love? I do know much about the historical events and regions depicted in Water Lessons.
And coming-of-age and underdog tales still matter, especially in the United States, historically a great fan of both. But perhaps I am mentioning country too much. Water Lessons transcends time and place because of the protagonist’s simultaneously unique and universal struggles and desires. Hope that helps!
What are some of your greatest challenges as a writer?
Maintaining a routine of writing several hours a day. Balancing public life (work, being social) with the private (writing, reading, editing) life. And living with the knowledge that literary fiction, though still relevant, today lacks the readership and respect it enjoyed for centuries in our society, from Hawthorne down through Hemingway. We truly are amidst an era in which television, and even gaming have captured much of the audience that forty or fifty years ago would be reading literary fiction for pleasure. But today a novelist or short story writer of literary fiction—and a poet even more so—needs to surrender to the truth. And keep plying one’s craft and celebrating the written word at its best. Because he or she has to. And because such writing is still important. No matter how many readers rush to buy bodice-rippers.
What is the most precious thing to a writer?
Time is. This has been said by many before me. The amount of time an artist can devote to writing—and activities that frequently accompany writing, like reading and editing—this is of paramount importance to an author. Especially to a novelist.
So what are you working on now?
Let’s just say I am a ways through the first draft of a new novel. Ah, that first draft to me is the most exciting leg of the journey. This novel is a very different novel from Water Lessons. I can’t tell you anymore though. I’m pleading the Fifth!