The Horror Zine
Joe R. Lansdale

In this month's Special Page:

Joe R. Lansdale discusses writing

. . . and Red Weiner


Thorne & Cross
Christian A. Larsen
Simon Clark
Earl Hamner
Stephen Jones
Defining Horror
Graham Masterton

Article from Joe R. Lansdale

You think, “I want to be a writer.”

My first response is why? Do you have to be one? Do you think about being one all the time?

Do stories spin in your head like hot laundry in a dryer?

Sure, there are some miserable sonofabitches out there that write and write successfully, but they aren’t necessarily better than those who love to do it. I love to do it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live for writing; meaning I don’t think of myself as obsessive so much as passionate. Being obsessive leads to nothing else. I know when to write, and when to lay it down. I spend three hours most days writing. That’s perfect for me.

But I have other interests. Martial arts, though I’m less active than I once was, but no less serious. Reading, as much as always. Films, all manner of things. And most seriously, my family. I travel. I have a full life and I write. I don’t let it own me. I own it. Which may be why I enjoy doing it. But I don’t dread it either. Well, sometimes revisions, but I still show up, and even then, once I start, I’m on it. Life is too short to be obsessive, and too brief to be lazy about not doing something you really want to do.

Do I ever have stories or novels die on me? Yes. From time to time I realize the idea is not working, or it seemed like a good idea at the time, but doesn’t hold water. Sometimes I find a project will peter out, and it’s usually my secondary project. I’ll finish the main project, or start one, and come back to the other one later. I nibbled at THE APE MAN’S BROTHER for about two years before a challenge at a convention to write an ape story made me take my two or three pages and finish writing it. It came out a novella.

Are you thinking about making big money as a writer? Consider this: most writers don’t make big money. Some do. Some hit in a comfortable middle. It’s like any independent business, except it requires talent and a burning desire. You don’t choose it so much as it chooses you and makes you do it.

Are you true reader? Not someone who buys a book twice a year.

Reading is one of the most important tools of a writer. You have to read to write. I write just about every day, and I only do it for a few hours a day, but I read when I’m writing, and hardly a day passes that I don’t read for entertainment and fun.

I’ve heard people say: “I no longer read for fun, but just to understand how it works in writing.”

You have to do both or the writing starts to stink. Read for fun, read to learn. And if you want to write, give it regular exercise.

When I was young, because of comic books and science fiction stories…and books and movies and television shows…I wanted to go into space. I still do. I wanted to be a science fiction writer as well, but found I didn’t know enough science. For me, though, Asimov etc. told me how it was done, but Bradbury told me how it felt, and I still feel like a kid when I think about the stars. That’s what reading does for me.

One more thing: Something that chaps my ass on Amazon. I hate it when on Amazon I see a review that says, “Yes, this is good, but if you really want something good you should read...And it’s that person writing a fine comment on their own work under another (fake) name, or they tell you how bad something is, but if you want a good version of this, you should read DOG SHIT FROM HELL by Red Weiner. And of course, they are Red Weiner. Or have a Red Weiner. Okay, there isn’t really a Red Weiner. In name. I think.
































About Joe R. Lansdale


Joe R. Lansdale is the multi-award winning author of thirty novels and over two hundred short stories, articles and essays. He has written screenplays, teleplays, comic book scripts, and occasionally teaches creative writing and screenplay writing at Stephen F. Austin State University. He has received The Edgar Award, The Grinzani Prize for Literature, seven Bram Stoker Awards, and many others.

His stories Bubba Ho-Tep and Incident On and Off a Mountain Road were both filmed. He is the founder of the martial arts system Shen Chuan, and has been in the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame four times. He lives in East Texas with his wife, Karen.

Visit Joe R. Lansdale HERE

See all of Joe R. Lansdale's books HERE

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