My guest today is author Robert Stahl
Please tell everyone a little about yourself
I’ve been a horror fan since I was a kid, when thirty seconds of The Exorcist on TV scared me so bad, I didn’t sleep for three nights — and this was the edited TV version! Now that I’m all (sort of) grown up, I live in Dallas where I’m an advertising copywriter by day and a fiction writer by night. I’m married to a wonderful man with a beautiful smile, and together, we’re dog-fathers to two furry little monsters. And yes, sometimes at night, when I turn off the lights and walk down the dark, scary hallway to the bedroom, I get the feeling there’s a boogeyman right behind me. I look back about half the times, and, I’m happy to report, there’s never been anything there. But there’s always tomorrow.
Where do you get your ideas for writing?
Ah, this is not such a mystery. Inspiration is everywhere, if you know how to find it. I’ve got a warped way of looking at the world, I’m told, so I guess I’m lucky? Plus, I’m naturally curious about almost everything. I’ve gotten story ideas from dreams, from tidbits overheard in bars, from daydreams. I’ve had them materialize right in front of me during free writing sessions, leaving me wondering where the hell they came from. That’s how I got the idea for “The Weeds and the Wildness Yet”. Another idea, the one for my unpublished novel about plant monsters (kind of a thing with me, you see) came in the wee hours of the morning, after an evening of nightclubbing many, many years ago. That’s when a houseplant came to life, crawled across the floor and whispered the plot into my ear. I shouldn’t have listened, ha ha. It took me seven years to finish the book, and in the end, it never sold. (Moral of the story: don’t drink too many vodka and Red Bulls, kids.)
How do you cope with writer’s block?
Writer’s block used to be a real thorn in my side, but that was before I was baptized in the holy waters and reborn a new man. You see, years ago, a creative fiction instructor introduced me to an essay that forever changed my life. It’s called “Shitty First Drafts” by Anne Lamott. In this short essay, the author praises the virtues of giving yourself permission to write poorly. It’s all about shutting up the critic in your head and getting something, anything, down, even if it’s a pile of poo at first. First attempts can be rewritten, reshaped, improved. The notion takes pressure off the writer to not have to get it right the first time. I read that essay over and over, printed it out, absorbed it into my DNA. Ever since then, I refuse to let writer’s block get the best of me. If I ever meet Annie, I’m going to give her a big kiss.
What’s the hardest part about being an author?
Besides trying to shush the voices in my head so I can find quiet time to write? (Side note to self: Have the doctor increase my meds.) I’m sure most people say ‘rejection’ here, and, yes, there’s been plenty, but it hasn’t been too hard to manage. For me, the big problem is time management. Writing takes so much time, and there are always things competing for your attention. My day job. Relationships, whether its family, friends, or the dogs. And leisure time. Time management is something I struggle with daily. Anybody who can offer me some insight in this department, feel free to share.