J.J. White – Deviant Acts
This week I’m hosting author, J.J. White
White is an award winning novelist and short story writer who has been published in several anthologies and magazines including, Wordsmith, The Homestead Review, The Seven Hills Review, Bacopa Review, and The Grey Sparrow Journal. His story, The Adventures of the Nine Hole League, was recently published in The Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, #13. He has won awards and honors from the Alabama Writers Conclave, Writers-Editors International, Maryland Writers Association, The Royal Palm Literary Awards, Professional Writers of Prescott, and Writer’s Digest.
I Can’t Type—Don’t Ask Me
I can’t type. It’s true. But I’m not the first author to write all his works in longhand. Nabokov wrote Lolita on index cards, boxes of them, I imagine, unless he wrote in tiny little letters. Capote was more traditional, writing on a pad, usually while in bed smoking a cigarette and sipping coffee. Joyce Carol Oates used a pencil for her prose and probably still does. I use a pen, which is easier on the fingers than a pencil, but the difference between me and the aforementioned, other than they’ve had a bit more success than I have, is that I don’t type it up afterward. My lovely wife, Pamela, tackles that chore. That could be the reason I married her. She was attractive, intelligent, single, had a three-year-old car, two hundred dollars in her savings account, and she could type. I was attending college at the time and had just paid a secretary a dollar per page to type my twenty page report on an IBM Selectric. (Okay—I’m old) So, I couldn’t lose by proposing marriage to Pamela, who was practically perfect in every way and had the ability to read my writing.
I hated typing from an early age. Six to be exact. I analyzed my mother’s Underwood and concluded some idiot must have designed the thing, since none of the keys seemed to be in any logical order. I remedied that by writing the alphabet on a sheet of white construction paper and cutting each letter into a circle the size of a typewriter key. Then I glued them to the keys, this time in their proper order. No more ridiculous QWERTY. ABCDEF made more sense to me. It took me to “H” before I figured out gluing different letters to the keys didn’t change the letter the keys typed.
I have written ten novels, three hundred short stores, many magazine articles, several golf columns, bad checks, a hurried last will and testament on a 737 during a thunderstorm, and all in longhand. Sadly, I have never looked at a computer monitor and typed a word on the keyboard at the same time.
Here is how I write. I bullet a chapter outline, let it fester in my head the rest of the day, and then, when the words seem ready to burst out of me, I write them down on a pad of college-ruled paper. I’m pretty much done at that point. My next step is to staple the handwritten pages together, meekly hand them over to Pamela and ask her nicely to interrupt her viewing of Downton Abbey to type them up and then email them back to me so I can do a first edit. She frowns, hits pause on the DVR (thank God for DVRs) and reluctantly transforms my horrible, handwritten twenty pages into twelve or so neatly typed pages.
My friends call her a saint and I have to agree. My handwriting has been described as looking like a chicken stepped in a puddle of ink and had a seizure on a pad of paper. Yes—a saint.
At this point, I mark up the hard copy, just like Nabokov and Capote did, except I change pretty much everything. And that’s just the first draft.
Still, I believe writing in longhand is my only option. My brain and my pen have found some kind of equilibrium and if I tried to change, it might alter the space-time continuum and annihilate the universe.
By the way, my agent and publisher complain I don’t promote my books properly and spend too much time writing guest blogs. So, to appease them, I’ll now do a shout-out for my latest book, Deviant Acts, a cool crime fiction tale on sale for less than the cost of a large popcorn at the movies.
But don’t buy my book because I said to, buy it as kudos to my poor wife, Saint Pam, who must suffer my apoplectic scribbling and make sense of the chaos.
His crime fiction book, Deviant Acts, was released by Black Opal books in November, and will be followed by his Historical Fiction book, Nisei, in 2016. He was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize for his short piece, Tour Bus. He lives in Merritt Island, Florida with his understanding wife and editor, Pamela.
Deviant Acts on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Deviant-Acts-J-J-White/dp/1626942854/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1447440390&sr=1-1
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