Today we’re talking with Mark Resnicoff, Feature Writer of European Affairs at Suite101 and Worldwide-Adventure-Travel-Examiner. Mark has an incredibly interesting background, and I know you’ll enjoy this interview as much as I did.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?
I grew up in Southeast Michigan, just north of Detroit. I still live in Southeast Michigan, but in a small town further away from the big city. I have enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember, all the way back to elementary school. I spent a long time away from writing, but started again several years ago. I have been the Feature Writer for European Affairs at Suite101.com for almost 2 years and was recently named the Worldwide Adventure Travel Examiner for the National edition of Examiner.com. It’s pretty cool that I have finally been able to earn some money from my writing.
What types of writing do you do?
I always wanted to write a novel, but am better at writing short non-fiction pieces, so that is where I currently focus my energies. I mostly write articles on the web, but try to find time to write for print media as well. Actually, an interview I posted on my “Chernobyl and Eastern Europe” website is going to be published in a new academic book in October. I also have a travel article pending publication next year in a regional print magazine.
What’s the best thing about writing?
I love the freedom to write about anything and everything that comes to mind. As a freelance writer, I also enjoy the freedom to set my own hours, to work whenever I am inspired.
Share some of your writing goals.
My long-term goal is to make a comfortable living through various writing projects (and photography as well). In the short-term, I hope to expand my web writing footprint beyond Suite101.com, Examiner.com and my “Chernobyl and Eastern Europe website.” I also hope to get more work published in print, including a book or two about topics related to the Chernobyl disaster.
Is there a specific time of day you like to write?
I am much more likely to get work done in the morning, while I’m refreshed and full of energy. I still write during the afternoon and occasionally in the evening, but that is usually not the time to work on finer details.
What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?
Walden by Henry David Thoreau. That book, more than any other, really made me think and start evaluating the priorities in my life.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I had the desire to become a writer when I was a little boy. I loved reading all the Sherlock Holmes stories and tried to write my own mystery around the age of 10-12. As a kid, I was extremely unfocused so the project never went very far.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Robert Ludlum, Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King
Book you’re currently reading.
I’m not reading anything right now. I’m too busy writing, taking a grant writing course and teaching myself the Russian language. The last few books I read were for historical research about Ukraine and life in the former Soviet Union.
Any type of writing ritual you have?
Not really. However, the way I write has changed in the last 9 months. I underwent spinal surgery last summer and still have trouble sitting for more than an hour at a time. I used to be able to sit at the computer and stay there until I completely finished a 500–600 word article. Now, I write whenever I’m inspired and my body allows me to. I tend to spend more time in the morning doing research and building outlines for several articles (usually Monday and Tuesday). Over the next several days I edit and polish the articles until they are ready for publication. The most difficult thing for me to accept is taking longer to finish any writing project. On the positive side, I think the quality of my work has improved.
Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how did you get past it? If not, why not?
I do not believe in writer’s block. I think lack of focus and motivation are major problems for writers – they are the true causal factors of what people call “writer’s block.” I typically get past these moments by walking away from the computer and getting involved in something entirely different. It usually doesn’t take too long before I stumble upon a new topic of interest. Once I hit upon that idea, it becomes really easy to sit down, do some research and get back to writing. As a bonus, once I’m back in the swing of things, it also becomes easier to work on less desirable projects.
What’s the measure of a successful writer?
This is a difficult question. A simple answer would be that success is the ability to meet goals. That may indeed be true, as long as writers set reasonable goals for themselves. Personally, I think a writer is successful anytime they publish their work, especially something of good quality. That may seem like a very basic definition, but publishing quality work is not as easy as many people think.
Advice for other writers?
Believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else (e.g. editors and publishers). Also, try not to take criticism personally. Instead, use it as a tool to better yourself and your craft. There’s always room for improvement and sometimes it takes someone else to find your weaknesses. Most importantly, have fun!
Where can we learn more about you?
http://www.markresnicoff.com is my professional website. It contains a list of my writing and photography credits (and a small sampling of my photographic work). I use the site’s blog to post important updates about accomplishments and new projects.
As many people know, my main obsession for the past several years has been the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. During that time, I have become friends with several people who used to live in Pripyat, the abandoned city that used to be home to the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant workers. I also know scientists currently working in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, former liquidators who helped clean up after the accident, and several employees of the Ukrainian agency Chernobyl InterInform. In June 2006, I even spent two days in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone with a friend who is a former resident of Pripyat. I hope to return to Chernobyl in the near future to conduct some research and take more photos for future exhibits and books. In the meantime, I operate my “Chernobyl and Eastern Europe” website and still volunteer as an editor for the English-language version of the Pripyat.com website project and as a moderator for their English-language forum.