Books·Magic 8 Q&A

The advice Stacey May Fowles would give to aspiring writers

The author of Baseball Life Advice answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Stacey May Fowles is the author of Baseball Life Advice: Loving the Game That Saved Me. (N. Maxwell Lander)

Stacey May Fowles makes baseball personal. In her latest book, Baseball Life Advice: Loving the Game That Saved Me, she uses the sport as a springboard to talk about mental health, gender stereotypes and more within baseball culture. She also includes her story of dealing with depression and how baseball helped her through.

Below, Stacey May Fowles answers eight questions submitted by eight of her fellow writers in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A.

1. Gary Barwin asks, "Do you feel that you guide the writing or do you feel the writing guides you?"

Is it possible to say both? I'm definitely not always sure where a piece is going when I get started, but I believe writing is a job and work, like anything else, certainly more than it is some magical journey influenced by an invisible hand.

2. Alan Cumyn asks, "Was there a career you didn't pursue so you could be a writer? Is there a career you dream about when writing turns particularly problematic?"

I've always wanted to be a hair stylist. At multiple points in my life I've actually thought about training to do it. As for what I fantasize doing when the writing turns problematic, I usually think about moving to the country and establishing a ranch for rescued dogs. I'm not sure how profitable this endeavour would be, but it certainly sounds appealing to be surrounded by a pack of animals.

3. Cathy Marie Buchanan asks, "What is your writing routine?"

I tend to wake up in the morning, go for a 30 minute walk, grab a tea and then come back to my desk to work by 9 a.m. My best, most productive hours are usually between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Everything around that feels a lot like fussing, tinkering and email checking. I've tried to get better at calling it quits by 5 p.m. and taking weekends off. So my routine now likely looks a lot like my office job used to but with a lot less social time, fewer meetings and no communal birthday cakes in the kitchen.

4. Louise Penny asks, "What advice do you give to emerging authors?"

Say yes to opportunities, even if they scare you, but also know when you need to say no. You deserve to be paid for your work. Don't compare yourself to other writers; support other writers. Focus on producing your best writing, not on pursuing false markers of prestige. A good editor who understands you and wants to bring out your best is the most valuable thing that can ever happen to your work. Trust them, listen to them and be willing to push yourself.

5. Charlotte Gill asks, "Describe your alter ego in personality and appearance."

Less anxious. More confident. Relaxed in social situations. Better at public speaking, going to the gym, getting a good night's sleep and doing laundry in a timely fashion.

6. Robert Currie asks, "What first started you writing?"

My dad was the person who encouraged me to read and write when I was younger and I had a high school English teacher who really nurtured my love of prose by lending me some more offbeat novels that weren't in the curriculum. I still go back to those books and think about how they were the reason I fell in love with the written word and wanted it to be a part of my life.

7. Patrick deWitt asks, "What is the least useful writing advice you ever received?"

"Write every day." There's no better way to hate or become frustrated with a thing than to force yourself to do it when you just can't or really don't want to. I do think sometimes you have to work through writing difficulties but it's also so important and necessary to take breaks when your gut tells you to. Sometimes simply not writing is actually good for your writing.

8. Alison Pick asks, "How would you most like to be remembered?"

As someone who helped people feel better through hard things.

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