Monday, December 07, 2009

Five Questions for ... Matt Sinclair

Victoria Dixon, a fellow member of the online community of writers at AgentQuery who blogs at Ron Empress, asked who among us was willing to subject ourselves to a short interview. Nothing too dangerous, just five questions based on her reading of our online Blogger profile.

Here's what we came up with. Feel free to ask me any additional questions in the comment section. I may just answer them!

1) What is your metaphysical reason to blog? What do you get from it beyond contacts, marketing tools, etc. (This is akin to asking why do you read.)

The short answer to your question is that blogs help me think. I read to know; I write to express. When it comes to blogging, it’s somewhat more complicated. I’m a chronic thinker, and blogs allow me to vent or ramble on a variety of topics as I try to think them through.

To me, blogs can be less formalized, less complete, than any novel or magazine article I write. But to layer on the metaphysical aspect of your question, I do like the element of permanence — or at least endurance — that an electronic compendium of my thoughts offers.

In my personal writing life, I write fiction because I love to imagine. We all have our own lives, our own realities; a great number of readers would prefer to learn about realities they’re not already aware of (i.e., they prefer nonfiction). I love to enter a world created by another writer. I love getting lost in my imagination, exploring ideas that wouldn’t come up in my every day life otherwise.

On another point, I won’t discount the marketing and contact aspects you cited, but those are not my chief reasons to blog at this time. If and when I have published novels to hawk, I’ll be far more targeted in the marketing of my blogs. One of my projects for 2010 is to create a Web site for myself as a writer of fiction and nonfiction. My wife and I decided to work on a book project together related to the work she’s done for the past twenty years. It’ll be nonfiction, but I think I’ll be able to get that published before I get a fiction agent and sell any of my manuscripts.

2) Speaking of your amazing number of blogs, what's the purpose behind each? This is where you get to remind your readership of some of the things you have to offer. :)

I’ve started several blogs, but I only have two that matter in my writing life. The first was Matt Sinclair’s Coffee Cup, which I created in 2004. I expected it to be basically a place where I could write some early morning thoughts on the day ahead or the day behind while drinking a cup of coffee. The posts were supposed to be no longer than it took me to write while sipping my morning caffeine. As such, the topics could go anywhere, and usually did.

One of the beauties of blogs is you can learn something about a writer’s personality through them — at least as far as the writers allow — even as they discuss the most mundane things in their lives. After my daughters were born in December 2008, I knew my blogging time would be vastly cut back. I was surprised at how much time I had to write during their first couple of months of life. I started a new section of posts, called “Matt Recommends,” about things that were really helpful to my wife and me as new parents. This was my attempt at recognizing the importance of advertising. I’ve worked for many years in magazines and I’ve never felt very comfortable with the (necessary) role of advertisers. “Matt Recommends” was my way to acknowledge that if I had any future in getting money out of my blogs, I’d have to push products that I believed in.

But once the girls were about two or three months old, the sleep deprivation hit full bore and my work schedule got tougher. Blogging regularly over coffee just wasn’t possible.

My second blog, The Elephant’s Bookshelf, arose not long after the first, but I wanted it to be focused on writing and reading. I had hoped it would evolve into a writing community — this was before I knew about AgentQuery — and I could get people to write book reviews, which I’d edit and post. I’m still open to that possibility, but I’ve not really pursued it. Elephant’s Bookshelf has also expanded a little beyond its original intent to include my thoughts on lots of things at least tangentially related to writing and reading — awards, contests (including National Novel Writing Month) films, the death of newspapers...

The others, including one you probably didn’t see in WordPress, were half-hearted attempts to discuss things like traffic in New Jersey, book stores, reviews of book fairs and readings, and other things that I’ve since forgotten. At least one was established so I could help teach a sibling how to create a blog.

3) In your favorite book list, you mention authors for the most part. What is your all-time-favorite, cannot-do-without book?

For me, that’s very hard to answer. I don’t think there is just one. But if I were forced to live in the world of Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451 and "become" a banned book until society allowed books to exist again, I might choose Michael Chabon’s Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay or John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany. I also loved John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things, which now that I think of it might be the book I’d memorize. It has so much of what I love in a novel: intelligence, humor, a story that is both engaging and meaningful. That’s what I hope my works will offer readers. I like to share things I’ve learned without being too didactic.

4) If an editor/publisher came to you and said, "We'll pay you to write this book," what would be the worst possible topic they could think of?

One that I not only knew nothing about but which I had no interest in learning anything about. A history of defecation comes to mind. I’d call it “I Don’t Give a ...”

5) What would be the best?

The universe is my oyster! There are so many things I’d love to write about. If I could get interviews with all the surviving Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts, for example, I’d love to do something with that. But Andrew Chaiken’s already written A Man on the Moon and I don’t think that’ll ever be topped; it was the basis for the HBO series “From the Earth to the Moon.” Other topics could include something related to my first love: baseball. And if a publisher has a hankering for an interesting tale that takes place in Antarctica, well, I’m about 25,000 words into it.

But that barely scrapes the surface of the types of books I want to write. I have a list of a couple dozen novels, screenplays, short story collections, and other works that I hope one day to write. In all honesty, I doubt I'll live anywhere near long enough to write all I hope to write. But I'll do what I can.

Thanks, Victoria, for the opportunity.


Anonymous said...

hey just passing through, is it me or does everyone know about NaNoWrMo???!
Check out my blog?
i think the people that answered yes would like it ^-^

Matt Sinclair said...

I don't know about everybody, but there are certainly hundreds of thousands of people around the world who know about National Novel Writing Month

Best of luck with your project.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Matt.

How fun to see your answers. I love your humor and hope someday to add your books to my book shelf. I even have a stuffed elephant patiently holding a spot!

and I'm not even kidding!

Matt Sinclair said...

Every bookshelf should have at least one elephant! Thanks for sharing your comment, and I pledge to do my best to get a book on your elephant-friendly bookshelf.

Of course, your works are on my must-read list for the future too.

Victoria Dixon said...

Hi, Matt! This is my first chance to read blogs in at least a week, so I was excited to see your responses. I look forward to your work on defecation. That made me laugh aloud and I rarely do that. :)

My husband and I loved "From the Earth to the Moon." We knew the outcome and it still riveted us to our seats.

Thanks for participating!

Matt Sinclair said...

Thanks so much. I enjoyed writing it. It's been a long time since I was actually interviewed; I'm usually the one asking the questions. But if I ever get a book published, I'd love to have you interview me.

Victoria Dixon said...

Woo hoo! It's a deal. We'll interview each other for our upcoming book deals. :)