"There’s always hope for finding whatever you are looking for as long as you open yourself to new possibilities and are willing to compromise."
B. Lynn Goodwin
An Interview with
B. Lynn Goodwin
By Carol Smallwood
Writing is a Process
Since 1997, B. Lynn Goodwin‘s Writer Advice has grown from a newsletter for writers into an e-zine that invites reader participation through quality fiction, memoirs, interviews, reviews, and articles reaching readers around the globe. She has also written You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers (Tate Publishing), Talent (Eternal Press), and Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 (Koehler Books). She’s won The Literary Lightbox Award, the Bronze Medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, and was short-listed for a Sarton Women’s Book Award. Goodwin has appeared in Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; The Sun; Caregiver Village; Good Housekeeping.com; and elsewhere. She’s a reviewer and teacher at Story Circle Network, as well as manuscript coach at Writer Advice.
Susan Wittig Albert, Ph.D., author of Loving Eleanor and The General’s Women, described Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 as: “A vivid, engaging, and heart-warming tribute to that rare and wonderful thing: a late-in-life love.” Likewise, Aline Soules, author of Meditation on Woman, and Evening Sun, said it is “A book filled with grace and charm.” This new memoir is completely different from your last book, Talent, which got raves as a Young Adult book. Was it difficult to switch to writing memoir from fiction? I remember being very impressed (when reading Talent) with how easily you captured the contemporary teenage world and how your writing style pulled readers in immediately.
That makes sense. Talent is about teenagers, whereas Never Too Late is about young seniors; in both cases, I knew the story and what the characters wanted. I let them tell their stories. Maybe it’s not about the genre so much as it is about telling the story.
While I was writing Never Too Late, I often asked my husband questions about things we’d done or things he’d said to check my accuracy. He has a way of getting to the truth, which really helped me. His love and trust opened up me and my writing. I wanted everyone in the world to know that love can happen to anyone at any age—but that sounded a little sappy. So read the book and find out how I convinced myself to Richard and how he helped me know my decision was right.
What did your husband think of you writing about your memoir and how long did it take to write it?
He has always been very supportive. We’ve talked about what makes our relationship unique, and what makes us unique. We both agree that this is the truth; neither one of us is ashamed of our truths. If I had doubts about whether anything might jeopardize either one of us, we discussed it. Frankly, I think he’s pleased to be the star of the book. That’s a new role for him.
Richard J. Smith, Ph.D., author of Life After Eighty, “Very different from any love story you have ever read.” What makes it unique?
I had never been married before. Ever. I had only been in one long-lasting relationship, and it remained platonic. So here I was, 62 and never been . . . You can fill that in when you read the book. If Richard has a question, he asks it. He asked a very important one after we went out to breakfast on the Saturday morning of our second date, and he asked in a way that made it easy for me to answer. If I don’t want to tell him something, I explain why, but that almost never happens. He says that we still haven’t had our first fight. I say, “Define fight.” We agree to disagree; we don’t scream or slam doors. We talk.
How do you manage work on your website and your own writing? When did you first begin writing and what was the topic and type of work?
One task at a time and one day at a time, I plan, I schedule, I prioritize . . . and when life happens I go with it. I draft pages early, and later I revise. Then I send them to my webmaster who saves me hours of frustration. I get some wonderful thank yous for my detailed contest responses, and that keeps me motivated to give more to writers.
You can visit Writer Advice to learn about our current contest. That said, there are days when I need a break, and my husband and I sometimes go away for a day or less, which clears my head. Interestingly, I take my computer, and I usually work more efficiently in a new environment. That recharges my batteries.
Douglas A. Weiss, author of Life, Love and Internet Dating, noted that “By seizing happiness with courage, sincerity and perseverance Lynn shows us that real love is not superficial, but about living each day as if it the beginning of something wonderful.” Please share your reasons for writing the memoir.
Truthfully, I wanted discouraged and disheartened women to know that if a first marriage at 62 could happen to me, it could happen to them too. I wanted this story about hope and taking action. Richard wasn’t looking for either “a nurse or a purse” as some people feared. He’s healthier than I am and he’s always managed financially despite raising seven children with his first wife. There’s always hope for finding whatever you are looking for as long as you open yourself to new possibilities and are willing to compromise.
Do you have the next book in mind?
There are possibilities lurking in my head and I’ve begun some drafting. It’s too early to tell you what form and shape my next project will take, and I don’t want to jinx it by talking too soon. When there’s more to know, you can find out about it at my website and when I publish, I’ll list it on the Blurb Your Book page at W.A.
From working closely with writers, what advice would you give someone struggling with getting started as a writer? Have you noticed changes in the writing world since 1997 when you began Writer Advice?
A Dozen Flexible Rules for Struggling Writers:
- Write daily. Start by writing for 10-20 minutes.
- Give yourself permission to get lost in your writing
- Write about whatever you want, and if one day you want to write a list, start there.
- Go wherever the writing takes you. No one ever has to read it but you.
- When you are done, reread what you’ve written and underline 2-3 places that have energy for you.
- Pick one the next day that you really like and start there.
- Or write another list.
- Or write about whatever is on your mind.
- Can’t write? Read a story.
- Look at how professionals put a story together.
- Go back to your journal and say what you liked about the story.
- Let the writing go wherever it wants before repeating Steps 5 & 6.
Write about why you’re having trouble writing. Go where the writing takes you. If you’re observant, and what writer isn’t, you’ll find stories to develop in your daily journals. You’ll find themes and obsessions. Writing is a process, so enjoy the journey. The writing world is evolving daily. Social Media, self-publishing, indie companies, publisher closings, the economy, and new voices affect us all. Millions of books are published but unsold.
Those who aren’t famous hire help with promotion and publicity. It’s part of the cost of doing business as a writer. It’s harder than ever for newbies, emerging authors, and mid-list authors to rise to the top. If you have a story you believe in, write it. You’ll find all kinds of rewards in addition to publication.