“I enjoy writing with no clue about what will happen”
Coffin Bell: Introduce yourself.
T. L. Sherwood: I’m T. L. Sherwood. Not being fond of my first name, I made a choice when I started submitting to go by my initials.
CB: What got you started writing?
TLS: If there was a trigger, I have no clue what it was–I can’t remember not writing. I know I blamed my crayon scrawls on my imaginary friend, so maybe she started it. I wouldn’t put it past her.
CB: What is the most rewarding aspect of writing?
TLS: For me, it’s knowing that I’ve written something good and by “good” I mean it affects someone. A few years ago, I wrote a particularly funny holiday letter and a lot of people told me they laughed which felt really good to hear–especially since it was my intent. If they had cried, I would have felt terrible.
CB: Do you have a designated space for writing? Tell us about it.
TLS: It is okay to have several? I’m incredibly grateful that I have a library in my home that double (triples?) as the guest bedroom and the Pilates space. During November, I’m in there every day if I’m doing NaNoWriMo. In the summer, a screened-in 10 x 10 tent is erected and I’ll write in there and wait for the mail if it’s not too hot. There’s a red, round table in the bedroom looking out towards the woodshed. I write in many different spots, but those are my top three. This is the general spot, though.
CB: Are you a planner or a pantser? Tell us a bit about your writing practices.
TLS: Oh, I’m both. It depends on the type of writing. I will start a novel not knowing anything about it, but I’ve also written ones with outlines. With flash, I’m a solid pantser. I enjoy writing with no clue about what will happen. The freedom of that has led to some interesting pieces–failures, too–but not as many.
CB: What advice to new and emerging writers could you give?
TLS: My advice would be don’t listen to other writers’ advice. A lot of it is good, but it usually applies to them, not necessarily to you or your style. That being said, what I wish someone had told me early was how lonely writing is and that it’s important to reach out and find others. Share your work with them and learn to critique what you like or don’t about other people’s work. We’re all in this together, so do your best. Not everyone’s comments need to be heeded, but do listen because you never know when someone’s going to say the perfect things that will lead you to a breakthrough in a piece that will take it to the next level–or you will do that for them. Also, reading your work aloud is a great way to find the flaws–personally, I have my Kindle or laptop read to me when I’m close to a finished draft.
CB: Who are your influences?
TLS: My non-imaginary friend, Chyo. But also, who isn’t? I’m not being facetious–I mean it. If I’m not learning how to do something new or better, I’m learning what not to do. I read a lot and in different genres, lengths, forms–it all affects me.
CB: Physical books or e-readers?
CB: If you could give a PSA to journal editors, what would it be?
TLS: You are appreciated! Thank you for your hard work and the hard decisions you sometimes have to make. Also, tiered, form rejection letters aren’t that hard to create or send.
CB: Taphophobia is the fear of being buried alive. Tell us about your fears.
TLS: Eye worms. I don’t know if there are such things, but I fear them the most. And floods. Fires, too. Big snakes and little ones that startle me. Talking about myself. Furry mints in the bottom of my purse. Truthfully, I’m afraid of most everything.
CB: Tell us about your book / publication / web site / promotion.
TLS: I finished a final (?) revision of Near Eden, New York and am currently querying agents–so fingers crossed someone will fall in love with my work. Creekside Reflections is the name of my blog. I work at r.kv.r.y and Literary Orphans, so a big shout out to them because they’ve both challenged and inspired me to be not only a better writer, but a better person. And thank you Tamara! I love ELJ and the first issue of Coffin Bell is stunning. I really enjoyed it and am thrilled to be a part of it! Thank you! Rock on!
Read T. L. Sherwood’s “Seeds” in Issue 1.1 of Coffin Bell!