Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sorts of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Cafelit is an online magazine which posts a new story every day. To find out more click here CafeLit books are published by Chapel Town Books to find out more about the publisher click here. Today in the tearoom, I’m chatting to Cafelit writer, Jim Bates about his entries in The Best of CafeLit 10. Welcome to the tearoom, Jim
Thank you so much for inviting me to chat about the new Best of CafeLit 10. I really appreciate it. By the way, if you’ve got a cup of coffee handy; I’d love some. Black, please. Thank you!
Now we have our drinks, Jim let’s started. What made you write the story you decided to submit to Cafelit? Was it as seasonal call-out i.e. Christmas, summer holidays, autumn, Halloween etc or just something you needed to get off your chest?
In March, 2018, CafeLit published my first ever story online. I was thrilled! I have continued to submit every month since then. I have been incredibly fortunate to have had stories in CafeLit 8, 9 and 10. I’ve had stories in other anthologies as well. Thank you, Gill!! The two stories in this collection, “Prairie Wind” and “The Park Bench” were stories written in late winter of 2020. They came to me while I was going for a walk outside, something I do every day. And that’s where the ideas of most of my stories come from.
Did you use a writing prompt for your story?
No, I did not.
Did you write an outline first, or follow where the characters led you?
I never use an outline. I start with a general idea and work hard to get the first scene down. Then I just let the characters and story take me where they will.
How do you create your characters? Do you start with a name first?
I would like to say my stories are character driven. In “Prairie Wind” the main character was created based on my love of family history. I imagined Wyatt as a man completely at loose ends with himself and his life, who takes a trip to a cemetery in the middle of nowhere Nebraska to visit a long-lost relative. It’s a life-changing event for him. In “The Park Bench” I imagined what life would be life for an old widower who happens to meet a nice lady while on his walk. What might their interaction be like? The story developed from there. I rarely have a name in mind when I start. Usually, the name will come to me as by the time the first scene is completed.
Was your story told in your normal genre or did you try something different?
Both stories were in my normal genre.
What do you enjoy most about being part of the Cafelit community?
FRIENDSHIP, FRIENDSHIP, FRIENDSHIP! And support, too, of course, that’s really nice. Gill James has published nearly fifty of my stories on CafeLit. She and Bridge House Publishing published my first collection of short stories, “Resilience”, in February of this year. She is also publishing my collection of flash fiction and drabbles entitled “Short Stuff”, through Chapeltown Books in July of this year. I don’t where I be without Gill and her incredible encouragement. I’d tag onto that and say that CafeLit led me to writers’ groups. I don’t belong to many, but the ones I do belong to I appreciate so much. In fact, Paula, your group, For Writers Only Clubhouse, was the first one I joined. I’m glad I did!!
(We are all glad you did find us, Jim as you’re very encouraging to us all.)
How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I have been writing off and on my entire life, but only seriously began in 2011 when I challenged myself to write a poem a day. I stuck to it and ended up with over 1,300 not very good poems written over a four-year period of time. But those four years taught me discipline. I still write everyday (almost! LOL!!) In 2015 I took an online class on writing short stories where I met someone many of you may know, Kathy Sharp. She became a mentor to me and encouraged me to continue writing short stories and publish them on a blog. So, I set up a blog and began following her advice. Three years later in 2018 I had my first story “Remembrance Day” published by CafeLit. Since then I’ve had nearly three-hundred stories appear online and in print publications, all do, I sincerely believe, to the start Gill James and CafeLit gave me.
What’s the one thing you would give up to become a better writer?
Interesting question. Here’s how I’ll answer it. I believe that the ‘work’ of writing is part of the process. And I love that process. It includes talking with other writers and reading their work. It includes reading a wide variety of literature. It includes stretching myself to try different genres. It entails learning to deal with some success. It entails learning to deal with a lot of rejection. It’s all part of the process, and it’s all good. And it’s a process that, hopefully, not only makes me a better writer, but a better person. I wouldn’t trade that process for anything.
If you would like to find out more about Jim Bates and his writing check out the links below.
Jim’s Cafelit author’s Page:
Jim’s Amazon Author’s page
Jim’s blog: http://www.theviewfromlonglake.wordpress.com
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Members’ Books, don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.