On this episode of A Day in the Life we meet Cindy Brady, a fiction writer and someone I was lucky enough to meet and work with in Rome in 2016. If you’d like to be featured email me, my address is below.
When did you graduate?
Where do you live?
What genre do you work in?
What are your favorite books?
Lord of the Rings, As I Lay Dying, Among the Ten Thousand Things, Blue Territory, Seeds Across Snow, Drown, A Gracious Plenty, A Sweet Spot in Time, To A God Unknown, Love In the Ruins, Vineland, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Oryx and Crake, The House on Mango Street, Four Spirits, Remember Me Like This, Theft, The Orchard Keeper, Gilead, Blue Shoes and Happiness, John Deere Farm Tractors, Stoner, Station Eleven. So far.
Do you hold a full-time job other than writing?
What part of writing do you like the most?
Rewrites or any time something comes to the page in an unexpected way that turns my thought process.
Do you work with an outline or just wing it?
I use a funky “outline” where I start with a circle in the middle of a page with a character, etc. in it then I ripple those circles out until I have backstory, other characters, description, place, setting, etc.—anything that impacts the scene that I can possibly imagine. Then I pick and choose. I don’t feel hemmed in this way. The outline of each scene feels like brainstorming and I end up with all kinds of things I didn’t know about the scene. For me, this method (which I’m sure has a name somewhere) takes me deep without straightjacketing me or drowning me. (See, Rachel Harper? I finally got there! An outline!) What happens also is the next scene begins to come to the fore as choices are made within this scene’s outline.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I’m going to give the answer I would give if I still coached elite players. Learning is accomplished in a stair step fashion. As long as we are stepping up, we think we are accomplishing something. Science tells us that when we are standing on the flat surface and seem to have stopped moving up, we are not blocked. We are processing the material/knowledge we have acquired and are making it our own. This is the point in learning (and if we are writing, aren’t we learning about our character, story, plot, etc. as we work?) where a student/writer feels they are getting nowhere/blocked. There are two known ways to move up again. Work harder than you ever have before with a goal firmly in mind. Or relax, be patient, take up another activity that is periphery to your manuscript, such as a bit of research or go to a similar place as your setting and just chill as you look around. I do a bit of all of these depending on where I am. But I never feel (blocked) because I feel I have a choice and am in control of some piece of my work at every moment.
Do you listen to music while writing- if so, what kind?
Any blues. Delta, Chicago, Texas, Memphis, Macon, and any neo-soul, soul, Motown, etc. But really I just put them on shuffle and the only thing that won’t be heard is opera or gangsta rap.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Backpack, cycle distance, lift weights, play with the dogs, travel, camp.
Can you tell us about an upcoming project?
Title: Salt of My Wound, a novel set on a barrier island of the Charleston peninsula that tells the tale of a family in disintegration.
Where can we find your work?
My computer or a USB.
What does your daily schedule look like?
What time did you wake up? Generally 6 am
What did you work on? Some edits for Spalding partial novel group and the final read-through of this draft of Salt.
Did you finish what you set out to? Yes.
If not, what got in the way? Nothing. However, sometimes errands can take more of my day than I’d like.
What were you wearing? (don’t mean to be creepy but is there something you need to wear to write, or you never think about what you wear if you work from home…) Gym shorts, dri-fit tee, cotton hoodie, running shoes, and socks.
Did you exercise? Cycled, walked the dogs, and lifted weights.
Did you read? Yes. Both Spalding novels-in-progress and two books going.
How did you procrastinate? Hung out at Park Café for breakfast. It’s a sort of Cheers for the early crowd, where we all know each other and age, gender, etc. makes no matter. The discussion is always lively.
What advice would you give someone looking for a more productive routine? Always exercise. Choose what gets your heart rate up significantly and put it first in your day so nothing interferes. All the latest research tells us that it is not only the key to good physical health but to sharp mind as well.
I’m looking for contributors for the following posts:
DEAR SOARING!: Send me your questions to be featured on the blog. Other alumni will help in answering your questions.
Where in the World: Where have you gone recently? Send me a picture with information on your trip and any writing you may have done about the trip.
Awards and Accolades of Alumni: Time to brag! What have you accomplished recently? I want to help spread the word and show just how great our alumni really are.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured.
Mackenzie Jervis is a Summer 2016 Graduate. She lives in Texas with her husband, two cats, and puppy. She has way too many books, more cameras than she knows how to properly use, and a never ending need to keep moving. She write about her life and adventures at home and around the world at A Wandering Scribbler.