J.W. Nicklaus maintains his own personal space between the soul and soft machine in the arid southwest amongst the snowbirds and the Arizona Diamondbacks. After graduating with an Associate of Arts in Journalism and Photography and a B.S. in Telecommunications he’s spent the better part of twenty years experiencing life and working in trades as varied as a small advertising firm to a litigation service bureau. Between writing for his blog (avomnia.wordpress.com) and other side projects, he spends time with his son enjoying the baseball season.
Enjoy this interview.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?
Where I’m from is something of an existential question, is it not? ;^) For some strange reason I’ve always found that question a touch striking because it exemplifies the concept of context; we can so easily surmise context, yet if that very question is written then some people would require qualifiers. For example, “Where are you coming from?” A rhetorical question, of course, but it could also indicate geographical direction: “I’m on I-10 now and heading south.”
So, having gotten that off my chest, I can safely say that I’m an Arizona native—born in Phoenix, grew up in Tucson, went to school in Flagstaff, and now live in Phoenix again. I hope, someday, to live where the greenery is indigenous and not forced upon the landscape.
As for writing, I’ve done it as far back as my teen years, although nothing much came of that early stuff. The bulk of what I’d consider my writing I’ve done in perhaps the last fifteen years or so.
Tell us about your latest book. What do you hope readers take away from it?
Serendipitous that you should use the word ‘hope’ in the question. The Light, the Dark, and Ember Between is a collection of short stories which revolve around hope. Fifteen tales in all, shades of romance and drama, sprinkled with dashes of humor, all ready to nimbly tug at the reader and remind them that Hope isn’t as distant as it might feel.
Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?
I really want to work more on—and of course finish—my novel, Eden. I started it years ago, but life has always intervened, and I took to writing short stories almost exclusively. I, like many other folks, also blog. I blog about whatever I feel like, which doesn’t lend itself to being categorized, but I feel that provides more freedom and balance to my writing. I like being able to write in differing formats. I look at it as good practice.
For some time to come, my “next” thing will always be promotion. Doing this virtual blog tour is one way to accomplish that. I’m always exploring avenues of promotion.
What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?
Wow—that’s quite a question, perhaps because it’s so completely subjective. I read one a while back titled Dinner With A Perfect Stranger, by David Greggory. It’s about a man who’s invited to meet Jesus for dinner. I found the concept of sitting down with a figure like Jesus and having a regular conversation to be fascinating. But I’ve also very much enjoyed John Adams, by David McCullough, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, by John Meacham, and a good number of other books.
John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, John Grisham, David McCullough. I used to read a lot of science fiction when I was younger, so I have a couple there too.
Book you’re currently reading?
Umm . . . can I list more? I’m currently (mostly) reading A Confederacy of Dunces. I also have Brain Rules in progress, and about eight others on my TBR pile, including Neil Gaiman, John Grisham, and Nicholas Sparks.
Any type of writing ritual you have?
The closest I come to a ritual is that I almost always have some idea germinating in my head about what to write. I spend a great deal of time thinking about what to write before I ever write it. Frankly, that’s not a good way to go about it.
When I write anything, I always try to get the ideas out and not worry so much about all the mechanics. Then I come back later, at a minimum the next day, and re-read what I’ve written and refine it from there. Sometimes I let things sit for a week or more before revisiting them.
I’m also a member of a writing group that meets to share each others work and critique it. I always read my own writing aloud, to see how it sounds to my ear, and then will often take it to the group and read it aloud there to get their take on it.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
If so, how did you get past it? If not, why not? I have found that I don’t get “writer’s block” so much as I simply stagnate for any number of reasons. One of the greatest things I’ve found to unlock the creative juices is to remove myself from familiar surroundings—to travel. I can’t say I get to do that much, but it has absolutely helped me in the past. I think we remain too close to our subjects and characters and allow the minutiae of our lives to dull theirs. Discussing these types of matters with the others in my writing group also helps, even to sit and listen to them discuss it amongst themselves is helpful; at least then I know I’m not the only one struggling from time to time.
In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?
This is, for me, a no-brainer: if the reader has felt that their expenditure of time was of value after reading your work, then I firmly believe that a writer has lived up to their end of the reader-author relationship.
Essentially, if a reader has enjoyed what I’ve written, not to mention perhaps been genuinely moved by it, then how can one not consider that a success?
I understand that we are prone to measure success by sales numbers or name branding. But the foundation which those concepts rest upon is the very same I allude to above. Those people sell lots of books, or have well-known names, because they’ve capitalized on the reader-author equation.
Advice for other writers?
It’s no secret that there are many more people who wish to write and publish than the ‘market’ can viably support. In my opinion, if you’re writing in the hopes of hitting that big payday then you may be in for a rude awakening. All the people I know who write would certainly love to hit it big, but it’s not their focus. They write because they thoroughly enjoy it, even with its inevitable frustrations and editing. There is a fulfillment one gets from writing like few other things in life can offer.
Write because you want to. Write because you feel it.
And no matter what others will tell you, believe in yourself.
Where can we learn more about you?
Indirectly, through my blog: avomnia.wordpress.com. I don’t talk about myself (unless I’m ranting), but if you read enough of the posts you can start to see me in-between the lines.
You can get a more direct feel of my writing approach at my web site: www.avomnia.com. I have more information about my book, along with reviews, articles I’ve written about writing, and even an entire site dedicated to our Constitution!
Anything else you’d like to add?
No matter what you pursue, or what drives you, don’t simply look at the stars—reach for them. Pull one down for yourself. Tuck it under your pillow when you lay down to sleep, and let it warm your dreams. Nurture it, and it will reward you.