Sunday, February 11, 2018
Last night I drove up to Everett, WA to hear author Craig Johnson talk. If you've heard of the Longmire series, if you've heard the name Walt Longmire, if you enjoy nothing town sheriff murder mysteries that take place in the middle of nowhere with a cast of characters so compelling you feel like they're in your life, riding your shoulder and speaking in your ear, then you know why I made the 90 minute drive through Seattle traffic on a Saturday evening.
Here are a few neato things from last night:
Many years ago, Craig Johnson's wife pushed a magazine in front of him and said, "You should do this." It was a short story contest. I can't remember the title of the contest, but Walt Longmire was born. And the best part is that Craig Johnson read the award winning short story that introduced the world, but not really the world, the readers of that particular magazine, to Walt and a bit of his brand of sheriffing. Only thing was with the awesome contest win and the stage set to turn it into a novel, Johnson wrote two terrible chapters (terrible according to him) and stuffed them in a drawer and didn't stumble across those pages for 9 years. Nine years!
If I had time to process this I'd have tons of questions for him, like, "Hey, Mr. Johnson, what the heck? Did you long to get back to those pages? Did you write during that time? Or did you write via write-thinking/write-living? Did you stop thinking of yourself as a writer if you weren't writing? And after all those questions, I'd get to my favorite question for authors, "What is your writing routine?"
Sadly (and typically), I didn't ask any questions. Beside the fact that I need time to process mind blowing stuff, I am favorite author shy. This is true, but I did get his signature on my Kindle cover in silver Sharpie. So cool.
Another neato thing is learning that one of your favorite authors is seriously awesome aside from the stories they create.
I'll leave you with something he said near the end of his talk. He writes for the over-reader, the reader who wants a hero who is overweight, over-age, over-...I can't remember all the overs, but he creates characters we can relate to, a real person who has qualities we value, not stats, but qualities, like character, humor, and even loneliness. If you think loneliness isn't a high quality value, think on a person homesick or lovesick or shattered by loss, and then imagine them putting one foot in front of the other and getting stuff done.
So, if you get a chance to attend a Craig Johnson author event, jump at it. If not, grab a copy of Cold Dish and fall into Walt Longmire's world. If not even that awesome advice, check out the Netflix series Longmire that is now over (but there might be more TV-edition Walt in the future...not an actual series, but something).