Interview with Ty Unglebower

What is your writing process?
It depends a bit on what I'm working on. But on average it goes something like this.

A broad concept or theme for a story will enter my mind. If I think it's worth a second look, I'll write it down in the tiny notebook I have in my pocket much of the time for future reference. A few days later I may decide it isn't for me, but if I decide to bring the idea to life, I first have to decide what medium suits it best. (short story, novel, play, etc.) Then I'll either set it aside on my list of future considerations, or if it seems "ripe" I'll set a date by which I want to have a first draft completed, working a little bit on the project most days until that time.

Usually I begin with a broad outline of scenes and events that take place in the story, though sometimes I free write with shorter pieces. The longer the piece, the more likely I am to need that outline.

I always complete the first draft of anything without editing. I learned that from Nanowrimo and it has been an invaluable concept to my fiction writing. I need to get that first sloppy draft completed, and I can't do that if I'm editing every paragraph as soon as I'm finished writing it. The longer the draft is, the longer I like to let it sit before I go back and read it to make corrections. The number of drafts varies.

I have no set time of day during which I write, though usually I end up writing in late morning and afternoon.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
It was probably not the very first, and technically I didn't read it myself but it was read to me. To my whole kindergarten class by our teacher, in fact. "Chicken Soup with Rice" by Maurice Sendak. It has no linear plot of course, and is in fact more of a poem than a story. Yet I remember enjoying it from the very first of several readings. It was the first book I requested for Christmas, age six. (I got it, and still have it.)

Like any good children's book, it had both immediate impact and appeal on the surface, and a more long-lasting, subtle impact that became clear with time and maturity.

On the surface I enjoyed the rhythm of the words, (I believe it's mostly in iambic tetrameter) as well as the rhyme. I also enjoyed the illustrations. I liked that we always came back to "chicken soup with rice".

But I think it's deeper impact, under the surface of my thoughts, was the sense of story for every time and situation.

The book's subtitle is "A Book of Months", and for each month the narrator is experiencing some adventure tied to the month in question, however loosely. Like in real life, wherever you find yourself on the ever turning wheel of the calendar year, you can find a story being told that fits the season. Even better than that, you can visit the other seasons in your mind through stories and words even before they arrive on the calendar, just as you can read the entire Book of Months no matter what time of year it is. That sense of cyclic universality appeals to me.

That's probably the most in depth answer ever given about "Chicken Soup with Rice."
Describe your desk.
More utilitarian than inspirational. One of those "assemble yourself" deals, where slat A fits into junction B, or whatever. About four feet long. An abandoned printer I keep saying I will hook up again someday sits on one side of it. My computer to the left of that.

Just off to the right of my keyboard is a thick stack of scrap paper- little fourths of sheets I've cut up from discarded pages.I've had a similar, seemingly inexhaustible stack like that for years. I jot quick reminders and such on them.

Under my keyboard is one of those desk calendars on which I write appointments and other such typical things.

On the wall in front of my desk, there is my daily to-do list dry erase board, and a framed set of four photos I took myself. They are of a local statue of Hermes, Greek messenger god and god of writers by some interpretations.
When did you first start writing?
I have written, and been praised for my skill at doing so, since my early school days. Most of that writing was non-fiction: editorial, academic, journalistic. (In second grade I wrote for the class newspaper, which the class dubbed, "The Best Newspaper in the World.") If you had asked me a few years ago I would have considered myself essentially a non-fiction writer that every once in a while dabbled in some fiction. I would have said that I hadn't gotten serious about fiction until later in life.

More recently though, I've looked back over my time in school, and have recalled that fiction played a bigger role earlier in life than I initially believed. Not only did I receive good marks for stories I had to write for class, but good responses to the occasional stories starring my classmates which I wrote once in a while for fun to share with everyone.

Not much of my fiction from before adulthood has survived, but I do still have an assignment I wrote for English class in 9th grade. It was a short story metaphor/parody of the presidential election that year. That too got high praise from the teacher.

As I started college I also got into writing poetry.

I suppose it's difficult to truly pinpoint when someone like me "started" writing. But that's a rough overview.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy is really only a potential joy. While I respect and at times envy people who claim that the sheer act of writing, whether or not people ever read it, is pleasure enough, I don't think I'm one of them. I in fact find that the labor of taking something I want to say out of my imagination, giving it coherent form and a narrative structure is best rewarded when people who read the result are moved by it.

Now, "moved" can by touched, or made to laugh, to cry, to think. To imagine. But if the things I wrote never reached or touched people, I don't think I would enjoy it as much. Again it is the potential that something that comes from within me can make its way inside the spirit of someone else. I can say, "I did that. I made a person believe in something bigger than themselves, if just for a time, because I sat down and struggled for a few months to a year and wrangled both the wily fruits of my imagination and ideas that are bigger than myself into submission for public consumption.

That, to me, is writing.
Published 2014-06-16.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Murder. Theatre. Solitaire.
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 52,960. Language: English. Published: July 1, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth
When overworked theatre director Milton Crouse attempts a week long November retreat in Vermont, not only does he end up snowed in by an overnight blizzard, but one of his fellow guests turns up dead. Now Milton will use the skills and knowledge he's gained from a lifetime in the theatre to try and discover, before the police dig their way up the mountain, who the killer is.
Flowers of Dionysus
Price: Free! Words: 86,160. Language: American English. Published: June 15, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
(4.00 from 1 review)
Before giving up the stage for good, a disillusioned amateur actor joins his friend's troubled summer production, during which he and some of his cast mates experience odd encounters and supernatural phenomenon that will challenge their views of theatre and of themselves.
Thank You for Ten: Short Fiction About a Little Theater
Price: Free! Words: 30,850. Language: English. Published: June 16, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy, Fiction » Anthologies
(4.00 from 1 review)
The Little Dionysus Playhouse, like all community theaters, is a different place every day, as different people with different goals come in and out doing their thing. The ten stories in this collection explore both the drama and the comedy that happen in a community playhouse, both on and off the stage.