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Writers on Writing: Sylvia Selfman

SSWS2Sylvia Selfman’s first novel, The Hard Heart of Mrs. Living-Stone, was received with much fanfare and acclaim (at least, by her parents and her third grade teacher). At that point she knew she was destined to become a writer. However, being the procrastinator that Selfman is, she put off writing her second novel until she retired to Palm Springs, joined a writing group, and voila(!) the Izzy Greene series was born.

 

What is the most important thing you’ve learned about writing?

I find that ideas are fairly easy to come by but difficult to develop into an interesting and suspenseful mystery.

There’s always a point in the story at which I want to give up. I walk away from the story, let it simmer, then go back and push through.

I usually start out my writing day by looking over what I wrote the day before, make a few changes, then move on with the plot. When I’m finished with the first edit, I’m always surprised at how bad it is. What could I have been thinking!?! Then I go for a second edit, work on the difficult sections, then a third edit. By then I’m usually surprised that what I wrote is not as bad as I had thought.

 

How has this helped you as a writer?

It’s kept me writing. One might think it’s easy to give up writing but it isn’t. Instead I’ve given up bridge, knitting, and a social life, etc. etc.

Mac or PC?

Mac. I can’t believe it but I’m actually tempted to get a PC. Addendum. I recently bought another Mac.
SSWS1

Do you use Word or Scrivener?

I use Word for Mac. I have Scrivener but after I’d once lost what I’d written I’m terribly gun shy. My daughter however, loves it and I intend to go back to it.

One of the issues I have is once I’m in the writing mode, I forget to “save” my work.

Do you write or take notes with an iPad or tablet?

I wish. I use an iPad, scraps of papers, notebooks. I write notes everywhere. Always surprised when I find them again.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Oh yes. Absolutely. I check my emails. Then it’s coffee and a Trader Joe’s waffle as I flip on the TV to make sure the world is still in existence. Finally, I settle down on the couch in the living room and check my emails again, and settle down to work.

Do you start by writing or researching first?

Definitely writing. I usually leave the research for last.

Favorite spot to write in the winter?

In the living room with my laptop. I don’t like to sit at a desk. Too confining.

Favorite spot to write in the summer?

I live in the desert so I write in the living room with the air conditioner going full blast.

In the winter, I write in the living room – sometimes on the patio.

I’ve tried standing up at the kitchen counter and writing but it unfortunately isn’t working.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane Morasco

Photo credits © 2016 by Sylvia Selfman

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