Today’s #WritingWednesday post is about a fellow writer of mine, B. L. Bruce.
Be sure to check out her blog! She has a lot of great tips for writers and services she offers too.
Author name: B. L. Bruce
Works: The Weight of Snow: New & Selected Poems
- 2014 International Book Awards Finalist in the Poetry Category
- 2014 San Francisco Book Festival Honorable Mention Recipient in the Poetry Category
- 2014 USA Best Book Awards “Poetry” Category Finalist
What is your all time favorite book?
Can any author pick just one? It’s so difficult to limit myself to picking only one, but if I were to choose my all-time favorite, it would have to be my biggest inspiration, Mary Oliver, and her collection One Thousand Mornings.
What is your current favorite book?
Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton
What is the most recent book you’ve read?
Karen White’s On Folly Beach
What genre is your favorite to read?
Poetry, though I am a huge sucker for chick lit, and Nicholas Sparks is my guilty pleasure.
Do you feel your writing style is similar to the type of books you read?
I feel that I read the most of what I aspire to write like. It might be a bit of a stretch or even presumptuous of me to assert that I write like Mary Oliver or my other favorite poets because so much of what makes them such profound artists is their particular style. I’m absolutely inspired by what I read most, but what I aim to do, like I would think so many other writers attempt to do at the beginning of their careers, is forge a path all my own and create a particular style that is unique to my work.
Who is your author role-model?
Mary Oliver. Are you getting tired of me saying her name yet?
Through and through. I’m a lover of wild things, and have been for as long as I remember. It runs in my veins. People laugh when I tell them that I most identify with being a nature poet, and saying that Oliver is my biggest inspiration sounds like a cliché to a lot of writers I have met and talked about poetry or shared my work with. It takes a certain soul to appreciate and acknowledge what a lot of people this day and age turn away from, and I see this in Oliver’s work. She has this way of being so in the present, as both this quiet observer and outspoken advocate, that is so refreshing to read and to be a part of. Above all other writers’ work, hers resonates with me the most. She is brilliant in so many ways. Few could every achieve her prowess in my opinion.
How old were you when you began writing?
I started writing when I was nine years old. My uncle bought me my first journal; it was one I had spotted in a bookstore window in a shopping mall (back when they actually had book stores in malls!). It was purple and it was great. Many of you might think, Well, what does a nine year old have to say? Apparently quite a lot, as I learned when I spend those rare evenings reading through my old journals. I digress. . . I started writing almost every day after that. It was my religion, my therapy, my a lot of things. I wrote nearly every day all throughout my adolescence, then throughout high school. Believe it or not, I nearly failed my English classes. I couldn’t write a five-paragraph essay to save my life. I have my mom to thank for her patience on the night before my essays were due. I was frustrated to all ends of the Earth, bawling my brains out because I didn’t understand it. I had a teacher in high school who sat down with me one afternoon and it suddenly clicked. My writing, both personal and academic, took a turn. I thought it would be fun to take a few formal writing courses in college and this is where my writing evolved from the more diary-type confessions to ramblings with a bit more substance and depth. I started looking outward, beyond my self and my own mind, around the time I was a sophomore at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I had a number of extremely supportive and encouraging professors that saw something in my work and really gave me the oomph I needed to keep going at a time when I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my writing, if anything. I originally wanted to study marine biology, but always had that nagging desire in me to read books and study poetry and learn the craft and talk about it. Needless to say, I followed my heart and applied for the literature major and ended up graduating at the top of my class with a bachelor’s in post-modern literature and creative writing with an emphasis in poetry.
How old were you when you wrote your first book?
I was fourteen when I wrote and self-published my first collection of poems. I titled it The Skeleton Weed, thinking I was so clever. It turned out to be a very raw autobiography in verse that made my parents cry. I still feel bad about that. I took home this book that I found in the “FREE” box of a bookstore that was going out of business and it really stirred something up in me. That book was Laurie Lico Albanese’s Blue Suburbia. I think it got under my skin and turned out to be the motivation. I was also reading a lot of Ellen Hopkins at the time as well. I’ve debated re-doing the book and putting it out.
Is writing your career or something on the side?
I feel I am one of the fortunate, and unfortunate, few that writes for both a living and on the side. I try to write as much as I can for my personal career, and recently I was able to do so by going on a month-long residency in the remote forests of Northern California. I stayed in a little cabin where I was visited by bears, bats, swarms of termites, giant tarantulas, and scorpions. Would I do it al over again? In a heartbeat. It was the most inspired and productive and at peace with myself and my work that I have ever felt. Aside from my personal writing, I am a freelance writer, editor, publisher, and graphic designer, something that is always allowing me to work on a diversity of projects for authors and businesses. I’ve heard the saying that you shouldn’t make a career out of your hobby, and while I can understand why, I believe it a true testament to your love and commitment to something, like writing, to want to do it day in, day out. I live and breathe writing. And I love every bit of it because it can be so versatile. I also work for a publishing company that puts out the local newspapers and a few annual magazines.
Where is your favorite place to write?
While I do enjoy writing outdoors, I must say that I am a fan of writing in a cozy corner of my house with my typewriter and a mug of coffee or a glass of wine by my side. I do also like to write in crowded places, like cafes or restaurants. I don’t do well with silence.
What inspires you to write?
The human experience. Pain. Love. Death. Nature. Hate. I write best when I am angry or sad or trying to mull something over. Very rarely is my work inspired by happiness, which might be why my work tends to have a darker undertone. I’m an observer in a lot of my work and I feel this stems from my love for looking at things in a factual, truthful way, telling things as they are and as I see them, then what it might mean to me or for someone else. From a different perspective, travelling inspires me. I love to go new places and see new things and often this triggers that creativity in me. Venturing out of my comfort zone can also impact my writing in a positive way.
Who inspires you to write?
So much of writing for me is being in my own head. My main drive comes from within myself just because writing is this unbearable impulse that I can’t help from indulging in. Simply put, I can’t not write.
Do you base characters off of people in your life?
While in poetry, I wouldn’t necessarily say I have characters, but I would equate the subjects in my poems as being more in line with muses than characters. I love the idea of the muse—there’s so much truth to how someone can really inspire your work, both negatively and positively, and you don’t have to necessarily write about them.
Read the book or see the movie first?
Read the book. But not always. There have been a few movies that, in my opinion, were much better than the books. The power of the human imagination, however, cannot be beat, and it varies from individual to individual. I always find that movies fall short because I’ve pictured characters or places in my mind much differently.
Do you like when a movie is slightly different from the book with its own twist, or does it have to be exact?
Some book-based movies do have good twists, I admit. I do understand that they have to fit so much into a particular time frame and they can’t go in as much depth as a book might. Don’t get me wrong. I love movies, but there’s just so much more a book can accomplish and elicit from the reader.
What are your thoughts on major plot-twists?
I’ve been known to cry while reading books with major plot twists. I’m not in the least bit ashamed to admit this. I think the writer has done their job well if they can completely throw the reader for a loop. A sign of a good author is one whose readers don’t see the twist coming.
How do you read a book (i.e. cover to cover, sometimes finish it, will tear through it in a day, read the last page before starting)?
All of the above. I have this habit of reading, like, ten books as once. All are in various states of read-ness. Sometimes I read a book all in one sitting, sometimes I will start a book and stop halfway through for months. I find it very, very difficult to stop reading a book altogether without finishing it. This irks me. I do my best to finish books, even when I don’t like them, just for the sake of finishing them.
What is a writing goal you have?
I want to write and publish five books by the time I am thirty years old. I have one book under my belt and three more in the works at the moment, one a collection of poetry, one my journaling from my residency, and another is the novel I’ve been working on for the past six or so years. These are my biggest goals.
If you could sum up your writing style in a word or phrase what would it be?
Quiet. I have this love affair with the mundane and the subtle. I try to capture this in my work. My poems are not loud, but rather attempt to influence or provoke or elicit as much in the least forceful way. Does this make sense?
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t be afraid of what you say, be afraid of what is unsaid. Don’t write for an audience. Write until you can’t write anymore. Write, then edit later. You can edit years later if you want. Keep going, keep writing, keep learning. Use rejection letters as motivation; tape them to the wall above your writing desk. Follow your heart. Give in to the urge to write at all costs, no matter the time or place.
The Weight of Snow is available on Amazon and all other major eBook retailers. B. L. Bruce’s next collection of poetry, The Starling’s Song, is set to release early next year.
For more, visit www.bribruceproductions.com
To purchase her book click here.
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Hope you enjoyed reading about Bri, as much as I did.
Contact me if you or someone you know would like to be featured here on #WritingWednesday.
And happy early thanksgiving everyone!