Welcome to my guest page. Here, every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation, over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, if they are not driving, with a friend about their work in progress, or latest book release. I’ll be talking to all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers.
Today, I’m welcoming Jim Bates to the Clubhouse Tearoom.
First off, thank you so much for having me here, Paula. If you’ve got some English breakfast tea, I’d love some. And, if you’ve got any chocolate laying around, I won’t turn it down!
Thank for joining me here, Jim. Let’s start by asking you When you first began your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I started playing around with writing down stories when I was quite young but, of course, they were awful. My dad told me they’d get better as I got older and had more to write about, his way of telling me that a trombone playing fourth grader should cool it for a while. He was right!
Fifty years later I realized that life was passing me by and I’d better get on the stick if I wanted to fulfill my life’s ambition.I decided to write a poem a day for a year, which I did, just to get into the writing groove. Then I wrote a haiku a day for a year. Then a series of four-line rhymed and six-line rhymed stanzas for a year each. For those of you counting, that’s over a thousand poems! In 2015 I took an on-line course on short story writing. I loved the genre and have been dedicated to writing short stories since then, including drabbles and flash fiction.
What writing elements do you think are your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
I don’t think I have any strong points. I’m extremely self-critical and, frankly, surprised when I can ever say to myself that a story is completed. That being said, I feel I do a fairly good job writing about feelings, especially those better a husband and wife or adult and child, but, seriously, that’s a reach. I would love to be better at setting a scene and at writing believable dialog. I really struggle with those two elements.
Tell us a little about your latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
The big project I’m working on right now is almost completed. The third and final edits of my collection of stories have been signed off on and sent to Bridge House Publishing for the final stages. The collection is entitled ‘Resilience” and is my first stand-alone published work. I’m very excited!
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
Right now, I have seven short stories I am working on in various stages of completion. I usually like to have about ten, so I’m a little short, which means I’ll be doing more writing. Hopefully, soon!!
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Getting back to question #1 the answer is a resounding “Yes!” My imagination is very poor, but my memory is still pretty good. Often times I’ll be thinking about my past, reliving situations and the people in those situations, and the seed of a story will appear. I generally run with and see where it takes me. It’s not the people, per se, that are in the stories, but they are as an aspect of the situation that forms the core of the story.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
Up until a few years ago, I was a leather smith. I designed and made and sold handmade leather goods on my etsy site. I don’t do it so much anymore, but during the early part of this century I had quite a nice little side-line business going.
What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
I write the first thing in the morning before other obligations take over. I will try to carve out some time during the day if I can and try to end the day with some more writing, but the morning is the best because I can focus on whatever writing project I’m working on at the moment and know that I won’t be interrupted.(Generally!)
Do you set yourself a daily word count?
I do not set a daily word count. I will write out the first draft of a story, just to get it down on the page, then I will go back and revise and revise and edit until I feel it’s completed. So, no word count, I just focus on the story and try to make it the best I possibly can.
How many hours a day do you write?
For me, two hours a day is really good, especially in the summer when I’ve got lots of other things going on. In the winter, I can generally carve out up to four hours, which is awesome. I get a lot more writing done in the winter than the summer, that’s for sure!!
How long on average does it take you to write a book and story?
Two nights ago, the idea for a drabble came to me, so I went to my computer and wrote it down. I refined the story and made sure it was 100 words long and then went to bed. The next day, I read it, changed a few things and sent it in. If the process took 30 minutes, I’d be surprised. My final story for the SF piece I’m doing for World of Myth Magazine is 2,300 words long and I know I’ve put at least twenty hours into it and I’m almost, but not quite, ready to send it in. I use those two examples to illustrate that I really don’t want to send a story in until I’m happy with it. Sometimes the process goes fast, sometimes it takes a while. I think that’s why I like having so many stories to work on at one time. I can go from one to another and stay fresh. On the average, though, a 1,500-word story usually takes about three to five hours.
Thank you for joining me in the clubhouse tearoom, Jim
Thank you so much for this opportunity to chat with you Paula! It was lots of fun 😊
In March, 2018, Jim’s first story on-line was featured on Cafelit. Since then over 200 of his stories have been featured in blogs and print publications. All of those stories and more can be found on his Blog
“Resilience,” Jim’s collection of twenty-seven short stories will be published this fall through Bridge House Publishing.
Here’s a few links to recently published stories you might enjoy: