Published by High Hill Press, LLC
St. Charles, MO
L.D. Whitaker grew up in the Missouri Ozarks and attended a two-room country school; managed to survive the sixties and seven years at the University of Misssouri; and now lives with his wife, two standard poodles, and a rescued tomcat in Jefferson County, Missouri. On Missouri Tiger game days, they all wear black and gold.
About my writing
Around 1999 I wanted to write some stories about growing up in the rurual Ozarks. I was fortunate to sell my first two stories to MissouriLife magazine. Several more magazine articles followed in The Ozark Mountaineer.
I began working on a book of connected short stories, which by 2003, was evolving into a novel.
Early on, I realized I needed to learn something about the craft of writing. What I learned in school—long pretty sentences laced with modifiers—was too wordy for commercial fiction. Strong verbs needed to replace some of the adjectives and adverbs.
Karl Largent, a techno-thriller author I met at the Midwest Writers Workshop http://www.midwestwriters.org/ said, “Never have your protagonist running quickly when he could be sprinting.”
As a reminder, my business card has a quotation from Mark Twain: “When you catch an adjective, kill it.”
I learned (and continue to learn) by taking workshop classes at the St. Louis Writers Workshop ww.stlouiswritersworkshop.com/; going to conferences; joining writers’ groups; and reading books on writing. Here are a few I still refer to: How to Write and Sell Your Novel (Karl Largent), On Writing (Stephen King), The War of Art (Steven Pressfield), Writing the West with Dusty Richards; The Elements of Style (Strunk and White), Webster’s New World College Dictionary, and The Synonym Finder (J.I. Rodale).
To outline or not is a fundamental debate among fiction writers. Largent in general thinks you should; King, not so much. Curtis Parkinson, a well-published young adult fiction author, told me, with some energy, that outlining would “take all the fun out of it.” I am not an outliner. My outlines are battle plans with symbols and diagrams scribbled on napkins or scraps of paper that will take me through a scene or several chapters. The creative process or, I believe, my Muse will fill in the blanks--too much structure can be confining for her.
It’s how I imagine the creative process of potters to work. They start out with a lump of clay with the idea that they will make a vase, but the humidity, ambient temperature, and their instincts dictate that the lump become a coffee cup—a really fine coffee cup—that would not have happened if they had rigidly insisted on the clay being a vase.
I make notes of my ideas whenever they occur—anytime, anyplace. Otherwise I might not remember the thought exactly that same way. When I jot them down later, I always wonder if I got it just the way that had seemed so perfect. For example, I was on my exercise bike and looked outside at the red buds of an azalea bush just about to open and thought: little hearts opening to God. That phrase became the title of Chapter 16 of Geese to a Poor Market and was uttered by one of the characters.
My best writing time is shortly after I wake up. In the first hour or two in the morning I have clarity and focus that enables me to solve problems that previously baffled me, and I’m able to cover ground that might otherwise take an afternoon. Afternoons are better for the mundane chores of writing—research, organizing, and finding stuff that I misplaced. For two hours in the evening after dinner is my second best time. After exercising is always a good time.
Here’s a secret that I learned from a house painter: Always leave a wet edge. Applied to writing it means, when you end a writing session, stop in the middle of a scene. That way when you come back to the writing, you won’t waste time getting started. It’s leaving the pump primed.
If you don't get what you want, it's a sign either that you did not seriously want it, or that you tried to bargain over the price.
My main writing area--my brother calls it my "lair." He says, "books may come and go, but the lair is always there." And he has always been the Mycroft of the duo. P.S. The lair is generally not this organized.
The Tulip Room of the farmhouse at the Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs, AR, where much of Geese to a Poor Market was written. The books and laptop are mine.
The WCDH farmhouse, a quiet place to write a novel about the Ozarks.
Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow main building.
A tribute to the farmhouse.
Katie and Bogie in Deepest Jefferson County.
Bogey and Katie, Standards standing guard.
A place of refuge in Provence