As I announced in December, I will be teaching a workshop on journalistic writing at the 35th annual Southeastern Writers Association conference in June 2010.
To gear up for that, I am featuring some interviews and spotlights with this year’s presenters. For more SWA Presenter Spotlights, click the appropriately-named category in the right-hand sidebar.
Next up is inspirational writer Bud Hearn.
ABOUT THE PRESENTER
This Georgia-born-and-bred athletic enthusiast pursues real estate investments and developments by day . . . and writes by night. Well, sort of. He writes whenever he can find a spare minute.
To check out the University of Georgia graduate’s blog, Ask Mr. Irrelevant, where you can see samples of his writing as well as what he calls “flash fiction vignettes of inanity,” click here.
RS: How did you get into writing?
BH: I lacked five hours of English in having a double major at the University of Georgia. My degree was a Bachelor of Business Administration in Real Estate in 1964. You guessed it . . . 68 in a couple months. But family, mortgages and other requirements of money confined my writing to contracts and prospectuses in hopes of writing deposit tickets.
When we moved from Atlanta to Sea Island, Ga., in 2004, a friend and I began hosting a “community lunch” for friends, which has grown from a few to hundreds, every Friday (now for over five years!). I would send out the menu every Thursday and began to add my mental musings along with it . . . some call it my mental flush.
A couple magazines picked up on it and asked me to contribute. I write monthly for one and sporadically for the pet magazine (in the voice of my dog). So, every week I have to come up with another idea or subject, all of which have been different.
My son published two books anthologizing some of my work. I use [them] as … “business card[s],” which [have] been very helpful in getting more real estate business.
RS: What keeps you writing?
BH: I guess, as long as I do the free lunches, I’ll have to do writing. But truthfully, and beyond that, it is like a “well of water, springing up” that keeps me going.
I have always been obsessive … if you consider such foolishness as running 50 miles at a time obsessive, although I refer to it as a passion, or “an enemy within, attempting to get out.”
[Writing is] fun, and ideas and words flow. I think when it becomes a burden, or a struggle or a chore, I’ll quit and find something else to do that juices me. After all, life consists not in the end result, which is a grave or urn of ashes, but in the “process of living,” and it’s the process that gives me life! I’m sure somebody quoted that somewhere, but I lay claim to it here.
RS: What do you do when you’re not writing?
BH: Search for time to read more, more, more. But mainly I work on real estate deals . . . creative ways to add value to a lifeless asset in hopes of continuing to write deposit tickets.
I enjoy physical exercise . . . brings out the best in me. Now, mostly the gym and yoga. Running is no longer fun, with a bad hip.
I enjoy playing the piano—reminds me of the bands I had in high school and college.
My life is pretty balanced and disciplined. I’m real comfortable in my own skin, and I must admit, weather permitting, walking the dogs on the beach across from my home is about as nirvanic (if there’s such a word) as it gets!!!
RS: What draws you to the Inspirational category?
BH: I think it’s a natural temperament. But more than that, natural temperaments must be used or they’re wasted . . . and life is too short to waste any of it!
One can’t sell real estate without being inspirational. And Life gives us only one absolute: the right of choice.
So, one can choose to be negative, or one can choose to be positive. I choose to be inspirational. I think the Latin for this is de datur tertium—“there is no third choice.”
RS: What are you currently working on?
BH: Struggling with everybody else on real estate deals . . . that’s what I’m working on. Money needs transcend about everything else.
Insofar as writing is concerned, I just continue the flash fiction pieces and attempt to add creativity to my thoughts and ideas.
Since I’m a little ADD (some say a lot), I get bored with things that drag on and on, so flash fiction suits my temperament well. At least now it does. Besides, at my age, what “future” do I have in writing, or about anything else for that matter?
As my wife reminds me, “You’re not Faulkner.” So I just create and move on to the next thing.
RS: What’s one genre or type of writing in which you’d like to dabble but haven’t yet—and why?
BH: Well, for years when I was in my 30s, I wrote volumes of legal pads of my internal introspection. Their residence was in boxes in the basement, and when we moved, I took a few out and read them.
Not bad, I thought, but of what use were they, now that I was well beyond those years? So I dumped them, along with the hundreds of “sermons” I wrote in my 40s and 50s (I taught Bible classes for about 25 years).
I’ve always been drawn to poetry, and lately, haiku is interesting to me. It’s short, concise to a fault and easy to write on about any subject one wants. Fits my ADD temperament.
I tried to lengthen some of my flash fiction into bona fide short stories, but the detail got boring, and I saw no future in it.
I also ran across, a couple years ago, Hemmingway’s take on “a book in six words.” He wrote, “Baby shoes, for sale, never used.” Wow, I thought. So, I tried some of that. I like it.
RS: What book(s) currently adorn your nightstand?
BH: I find it hard to read at night. Morning is my best time of day. But I read several books at one time . . . currently, it’s Born to Run by [Christopher] McDougall, [Long Story Short: Flash Fiction by Sixty-five of North Carolina’s Finest Writers] … edited by Marianne Gingher and the early novels of Cormac McCarthy, which will complete my reading of all 11 novels by him.
RS: Name an author that helped shape who you are as a writer and how he or she had that effect on you.
BH: What, name just one author that shaped me? Who can do that, you fool? Where would the starting line be?
But if I must, my beginning was at age 13 when I began to read the Bible. The epistles of the apostle Paul have, and continue to, influence me in a very deep spiritual sense. They drill down to the core of things for me, and I never tire of reading them.
But in the carnal sense, in the “real world,” as we call it, I really like [Truman] Capote, [Cormac] McCarthy, O. Henry and Ambrose Bierce.
RS: Can you give us a quick teaser about the course you’ll be teaching at Southeastern Writers Association?
BH: I like the idea of “getting inside of the metaphor” concept (i.e., putting ourselves “into” the situation or event, and letting it draw from us our own conclusions, far from editorializations of others). Being present inside of a metaphor or event, arouses all sorts of ideas, passions and possibilities. It all goes with my idea of “Believing is seeing, not seeing is believing.” I always conclude with a discussion on the idea of “Imagine the Possibilities” (think: Lewis Carroll here).
All my classes are interactive, not lecture. Who wants to hear someone else pontificate? They’re like “gesture drawing,” quick sketches of the subject matter. And classes where nothing is wrong—except a blank sheet of paper!
Goals? What other goals are there except one: That of allowing the spirit within find a place to express itself outwardly. That’s my goal—for each participant to be able to transcend fear and worry and let their spirits express [themselves] unhindered.
For more information about the Southeastern Writers Association conference in June, please see their registration page as well as my recent post. Don’t wait to sign up—and you must be registered by April 1 in order to participate in contests and manuscript evaluations, so reserve your spot today!
To learn more about the workshop I’m teaching, click here.