BIW Member Interview
John Young lives and writes in Bellflower, California. He is an elementary school teacher who hopes to guide children in the direction of their dreams while also pursuing his own writing dreams.
Moe: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
John Young: I read To Kill a Mockingbird as a sixth grader from the “censored” section of my school library. I didn’t know what censored meant but noticed when others tried checking it out, they were told no. (I guess one was to read it under a watchful librarian’s eye). So, I stuck it in my pocket when the librarian wasn’t looking. I read it every night in my room when my parents slept, thinking I was doing something taboo (My folks didn’t read for pleasure). I remember the night I finished it. I closed the book. Studied the cover, especially the mockingbird in the upper corner, then opened it and proceeded to read it again. In all, I read it five consecutive times. It became an obsession. I started writing stories shortly after that and never really stopped.
Moe: Describe three lessons you have learned about writing?
John Young: 1. Be habitual. Even if nothing much comes from a day of writing, continue the habit. It’s like you are panning for gold, right? What if today’s the day something peculiarly shiny appears in your pan?
2. Find a method for editing/revising and stick with it. For revising, I always rewrite stories from beginning to end after one rereading of what I wrote previously. They get better each time, and the story flows faster each time. For editing, I like Ken Rand’s 10% method. It’s pragmatic like me.
3. Don’t write completely alone. Find a group. While I belong to online groups, I also have one group I meet with in person. I think physically interacting with others like ourselves is important. Writers are an odd bunch (I mean this in a good way). An in-person social network may give you a place where you feel like you fit in.
Moe: What are you working on now?
John Young: I have outlined my first novel. I’ve attempted novels in the past. I’m not impressed with any of them. But this one came to me so clearly, that I felt like I had a good opportunity to map it out. It is a novel about a teacher who believes in a child that others have given up on, and the lengths people will go to make sure that others have an opportunity to dream of a better life. Grandiose, I know, but I am a teacher in my real-life work and am continually amazed by the examples of selflessness of the profession. I guess it will be a homage.
Moe: Do you have a favourite writing related book?
John Young: I mentioned it earlier, Ken Rand’s 10% Solution. I think everyone should own it.
Moe: What is your favourite writing website?
John Young: I use Writing Fix’s right-brain writing prompts when I need a warm-up or just a new idea to explore. My favorite is the “Serendipitous Plots”. I even have my student’s use it. (I believe the site is primarily geared toward education, but give it a try anyway).
Moe: Do you have an important BIW tip you’d like to pass along?
John Young: Beware comparing your output to others.