A Ten Question Interview With The Artist… Stephen Jarrell Williams

Why do you write?

I write because I’d probably go insane if I didn’t.  And I’d hate for someone to have to shoot me several times to put me out of my misery.  Of course, they’d have to buy some silver bullets and catch me when I’m sleeping…  I only sleep about four hours a night.

What books do you read?

I go through cycles of reading.  For several months I’ll read everything I can get my hands on.  Mostly fiction and poetry keep the pages turning.  I love the feel of a book and I jot down notes and underline words and phrases on most of the pages.  Then I might not read a book for months.  That’s when I’m usually in a writing frenzy of poem-after-poem.

What inspires you?

Thunder and lightning.

The sea stretching into the horizon.

The full moon over the noise of a city.

Those unexpected moments when you know there must be a God.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?

I was about 8 or 9 years old, when I found out why my father locked himself in the den and smoked 4 to 5 packs of Camels a day.  I fell to sleep every night to the rhythmic strumming of his type writer.  I wanted to be like him… a writer.

How do you deal with rejection?

In my teenage years I did all my submissions by mail.  I checked the mailbox every day.  The anticipation kept me sky-high throughout the nights and days, until I opened a letter and read the rejection slip.  Often it felt like someone stabbing me in the back.  I just stood there reading it over and over.  Then I would get mad-as-hell and storm into my room and start rocking in my rocking chair a thousand-miles-an-hour.

A few minutes later I was calm again, but ready to write and do a better job.

(My ego was much larger than my abilities.  My head was a huge thing stuck on a stick-figure body.  A trait I apparently inherited from my father.)

Now…  I rock in my rocking chair very slowly for a few minutes.  (I’ve always had at least one rocking chair since I was a kid.)

Who are some writers you admire?

John D. MacDonald, H.G. Wells, T. Jefferson Parker, Mark Greaney, and John Steinbeck.

Some of my current poetry favorites are Stefanie Bennett, Alan Catlin, Noel Negele, Richard Schnap, John Swain, and Paul Tristram.

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

I draw and paint.  Someday I’ll clear the living room out and paint on giant canvases like a madman.

What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?

Don’t rush it.  A good writer takes years.  And accomplished writer takes another twenty years after you’re a good writer.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Get a well-paying job you’ll like for a lifetime and write in your spare time.  Spare time can last late into the night when it’s very quiet.  A thinking zone…  A writing zone…

What is your writing process?

I usually write an hour or so before I go to work at my regular rat-race job.  Then after work, I’ll write 2 to 4 hours before bed.  Then I dream in vivid color!

Stephen Jarrell Williams

Stephen Jarrell Williams loves to write in the middle of the night with a grin and grimace and flame in his heart. He is the editor of Dead Snakes at deadsnakes.blogspot.com


One thought on “A Ten Question Interview With The Artist… Stephen Jarrell Williams

  1. Stephen, may you continue to ‘rock in your rocking-chair’ directing & thinking about the down-to-earth lasting value of poetry well writ. Your writing & editing zone goes un-tarnished. Nothing but the best –


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