A writer like you: Ed Ahern

A writer like you: Ed Ahern

Meet Ed Ahern, author of three books and over two hundred stories and poems.

Ed resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He also works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of five review editors. In addition to a stream of short stories and poems, Ed is working on a thriller tentatively titled Will of the Wisp and assembling his poems for publication. His novella The Witches Bane was recently reissued. His hobbies include fly fishing and shooting sporting clays. His reading tastes are eclectic, ranging from genre fiction to poetry. The most recent book he read is "Upstream" by Mary Oliver.

You’ll enjoy reading about Ed’s journey to become a published author, how he avoids writer’s block, and his publishing advice.

So without further ado, let’s learn from Ed.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

Writing has been the obsession of my dotage. I'd collected and rewritten obscure folk tales in my thirties, and even came close to having them published, but failed, and put the manuscript away to molder for thirty five years. At sixty eight I decided to find how bad a writer I was and started with literary fiction that always turned out noire. I also wrote original fairy tales whose protagonists were our five grandchildren, and blew the dust off of the folk tales and revised them. Things started getting published and by seventy one the collected fairy and folk tales were published as "The Witch Made Me Do It."

By seventy two I was an editor reading and reviewing fiction and poetry every week. Some of the poetry we published I thought was cringe-worthy, and I decided to try and write poems as bad or good. My first efforts were also dumpster-consignable, but after awhile they began getting published, and a hundred twenty published poems later, I am getting a poetry book together. It's important to admit that I had no academic or formal training, just the help of other, better poets who gently pointed out where my poems sucked.

Also by seventy two my collected fantasy/science fiction/horror stories were published as "Capricious Visions." I'm embarrassed to admit that the version of the stories in the collections often is not the version that I send out to anthologies and magazines as a reprint. I have a bad habit of revising my stories and poems with almost every rereading, so a newer version has the same title but a bunch of different body parts. Thus far, no one has noticed.

What do you like to write about?

Most of my fiction writing can be viewed as entertainment rather than any form of social change agency. People change slowly if at all. My stories and poems do often point out the absurd specifics of our existence, and if I can provide the reader with a wry realization I've achieved the possible. Social change I leave to non-fiction, which I don't write.

What publishing advice would you give other writers?

A lot of writers I know get a story accepted and then retire it, which is an incredible waste of presumably good fiction or poetry. I resubmit my stuff all the time to magazines and anthologies receptive to non-virgins. My record is with a poem that's come up for air nine times. This also means that my Amazon listing of anthologies is lengthy. 

How do you stay motivated to write?

I've yet to suffer from writer's block. The larger part of writing I think of as craft rather than creation, and I just write crap until it runs clean. I do suffer from crummy concepts that I write into a story or poem and have to excise on rereading. I take (perhaps perverse) enjoyment in life and writing lets me share some of that enjoyment, even in the occasional slasher story I write. 

What motivated you to choose this profession? 

I have the luxury of being retired and not working at anything other than writing. The likelihood of my making serious money from writing is akin to winning the lottery, but I do enjoy the occasional $20 donation as validation that the piece was worth reading. The indie and mid-list authors I know would also starve if they didn't have other income, so I have little interest in writing a purely salable book (and sequels) and losing the chance to write what I want.

What strategies do you use to improve your writing skills?

The fiction and poetry critique groups I attend keep me tuned up and are an essential part of whatever writing quality I display. Writing in isolation leaves me thinking that my failings are just idiosyncrasies readers will put up with. I especially credit the Fairfield Scribes for the tough love that keeps me honest. I try to hold the reader in mind when I write. 'Writing for myself' I view as the road to hell.

Where can we connect with you?

I write about writing on Twitter: @bottomstripper. I list my publishing credits (when I remember to) on Facebook.

Thanks, Ed.

My FREE THE WRITER takeaway is that to avoid writer’s block, I need to change my writer mindset. Like Ed, I need to let myself “write crap until it runs clean.” This perspective would give me the space to grow and help me let go of the high expectations I tend to place on myself.

What about you? Share your own takeaways and questions for Ed in the comments below.

Keep freeing that writer,


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