Calliope Writing


#AtoZChallenge – S – David B. Seaburn Quote

David Seaburn Quotation - A to Z Blogging Challenge

Wondering what the hell the A to Z Blogging Challenge is all about? Catch up by reading this post.



More More Time – A Book Review
December 18, 2015, 6:22 pm
Filed under: Books | Tags: , , , , ,

The year is coming to a close, and we’re all asking the same question: Where in the hell did 2015 go?!

Anyway…onward.

More More Time  – A Book Review

more more timeI’m not much of a book reviewer – I find it difficult to articulate the emotions that certain books evoke. However, I was sent More More Time – which happens to be written by a friend of mine, David B. Seaburn – for me to read and review…so here goes.

More More Time tells the story of six individuals struggling to do what we all do: live life and come out as unscathed as possible and having done as little damage as possible.

The characters are three-dimensional, with their own personalities and quirks, ranging from the Abe-Lincoln-impersonating Max and the buttoned-up-slash-uptight Hargrove to the sunny Constance and the somewhat bitter (and understandably so) Beth. Seaburn knows people, and it’s apparent in his writing; after all, he’s a licensed marriage and family therapist. The guy writes for Psychology Today, for God’s sake. (Dave, why you gotta be so smart?)

more more time quote

I’m certain I’m biased, as I’ve edited two of Dave’s books and will always think of him as both an incredible writer and a wonderful friend, but I can confidently state that this novel is amazing. I laughed quite a few times, not only because a line struck me as funny but also because there were passages that struck me as laughably and terribly true. I cried a few times (no shit – emotional stuff, ladies and gentlemen), and by the end of More More Time, I felt deeply saddened…because it was over, and I would no longer have the opportunity to visit with and learn about these six people.

I heartily recommend that you check out More More Time. Just be prepared for those onion-chopping ninjas to make a visit.

I Read 24 Books This Year

At least, that’s what Goodreads tells me.

How many books did you read in 2015?



Writer’s Block, You’re a Bitch

As someone who has been writing stories since the innocent age of five, I’ve experienced writer’s block. That would be an understatement. Truthfully, it’s more like I’m in a constant state of writer’s block, with spurts of “Holy crap, I can write!”

Funny Writers Block

So, you can imagine my excitement when one of my favorite people, author David Seaburn, said he wanted to write an article about the subject.

Dave, take it away!

Sometimes when I look at a blank page on my computer screen, I can tell it’s making fun of me or daring me to put even one tiny mark on its unsullied surface. No, I’m not kidding. This is for real. Sometimes it even looks, well, hostile, like it’s giving me the finger; and personal, like it’s saying “What in the world made you think you could write?” Lucky for me, I have other things to do when that happens. I stay away, not because I really want to, but because I have other stuff in my life. Who’s going to change the litter? Or binge-watch The Americans? I can’t just drop everything and sit down in front of a mind-numbingly blank page and, like, write. Who does that?

Writers.block.seaburn

I just can’t write anymore!!

Okay, so, it’s hard being a writer because sometimes writing is the last thing you want to do or feel you can do. It’s anxiety-provoking when you don’t have anything in the tank. I mean, what does that say about you? That you’re a loser or something? I hate being in that position, so I’ve found some tricks that help me avoid the dreaded Block of the Writer.

Make Writing Habitual

First, I find that it helps if I write routinely, no matter what I write. You can define “routinely” for yourself, but generally speaking, that’s several times weekly. Sometimes I don’t work on fiction. Instead, I may write in my journal or edit what I’ve already written or work on a short blog post. But whatever I do, it helps if I put my butt in the chair routinely (there’s that word again) and practice, as if I were learning to play the piano.

writers block frustration

Shut Up Your Inner Critic

I also try to keep the self-loathing at bay. Getting way up in your own grill when you’re trying to be creative, well, it doesn’t help. I work at being gentle with myself or reminding myself that I have done some good writing in the past, that my writing skills haven’t dribbled out of my ear while I was asleep, that this will pass. Be patient.

…But Don’t Be Too Patient

Before I forget, don’t wait for inspiration. You may never sit down at the computer again if you wait to be inspired. Sometimes inspiration never shows up, but your writing may still be very good. And if it does show up, it probably sneaks in while you’re plodding along, just trying to put words and sentences together.

Source: The Oatmeal

Source: The Oatmeal

Stop Yourself While You’re on a Roll

Here’s a good trick. Ernest Hemingway said, “The best way [to avoid getting blocked] is always stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day…you’ll never be stuck.” I like this one a lot. I’ve stopped mid-sentence when I was on a roll, because when I sat down the next day, it was so easy to get started again. (Please overlook the fact that Hemingway eventually committed suicide. I don’t think that detracts at all from his sage advice. Mostly, anyway.)

Take a Break

I find that sometimes the best thing I can do is get up and walk away for a little while. Go to the bathroom. That’s where the best ideas are hiding. Or get the mail. Or make a cup of coffee or tea. Somehow this rearranges my brain cells, making it just a little easier to go forward.

writers block path

Don’t Give Up Just Because You’re Lost

The best protection against getting blocked is to keep going even if you don’t know where you’re headed. I learned this the hard way. I carried notes around for my first novel for ten (count ‘em – ten) years before I wrote the first sentence. I did this because I didn’t know how the book would end. Actually, I didn’t know how the first chapter would end.

Now I struggle less with this, because I understand that the “not knowing” part of writing is pretty common and that writing into a story is the best way to keep going, the best way to discover what’s ahead. Reminds me of E.L. Doctorow’s famous response to people who asked him about the uncertainty of the writing process: “I tell them it’s like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” I wish I had written that. I probably had writer’s block at the time.

Happy writing!

David B. Seaburn lives near Rochester NY. He has written five novels, two of which were expertly edited by Katrina Robinson. His latest novel is More More Time (2015, Savant Books). Also, visit his Psychology Today blog here.

Dave, you da man.

And just because it’s that kind of day, I’ll let Ryan Gosling wrap things up.

Funny Writers Block Hey Girl

Hell yes, you will, Ryan Gosling. Yes you will.

How do you deal with writer’s block? Do you huddle in the corner and cry, or do you take it on like a man?!



Interview with ‘Chimney Bluffs’ Author David B. Seaburn
October 24, 2012, 3:41 pm
Filed under: Interviews | Tags: , , , , ,

I had the distinct pleasure of working once again with David B. Seaburn (previously, I edited his novel Charlie No Face) on his most recent work, Chimney Bluffs. David took the time to sit down with me and talk about his latest novel.

Katrina Robinson: Tell me a little bit about Chimney Bluffs; from where did you get the inspiration for the story?

David B. Seaburn: When I was working on my last novel, Charlie No Face, I read an online news article about an incident in England where a mother and father had leaped to their death from a famous cliff after the unanticipated death of their four-year-old son.

Of course, that was awful in and of itself, but what really captured my attention was that they jumped with two sacks: one had their dead son, the other had his toys. Somehow I couldn’t get that image out of my mind. They clearly wanted to be together in whatever world awaited them. The sack of toys was very poignant. They must have thought their son would need them.

I couldn’t shake this story. I began to wonder: How did the couple come to their decision? What if one of the parents had not died? Those questions helped me develop the premise for my story.

KR: You depict the death of a child in such a personal, heartbreaking way. Was this difficult for you to write about?

DS: Yes, it was difficult. In the first chapter, Clancy Brisco, a ranger at Chimney Bluffs State Park, discovers two adults and two sacks resting on the beach at the bottom of a cliff. When I finished that chapter, I pushed myself away from the computer and thought, What have I gotten myself into?

It was not easy, but it shouldn’t have been. If you’re going to take on a subject like this, it should be just as challenging for the writer as it may be for the reader.

KR: This is your fourth published novel. Are there any key lessons that you’ve learned along the way?

DS: Have a good editor! (That would be you.) I think I have gotten better at developing character at greater depth and allowing for more complexity without losing a clear and, perhaps, simple narrative line.

I’ve also learned how to live better with the uncertainty of not knowing where I’m going. When I started writing Chimney Bluffs, I had no idea where the story would go or how it would end. Unlike some writers, I don’t work from an outline. I work through my fingers at the computer. Not that I don’t have a good notion of what the whole should look like, but I tend to trust what emerges as it emerges. I think I have gotten better at living with this ‘not knowing’ aspect of writing.

KR: What piece of advice would you give to a writer who hopes to have his or her work published?

DS: I think it’s important to write about what is meaningful to you. When I start a novel, I know that for the next eighteen months I will be wrestling with issues that are of personal concern to me, that have something to do with helping me define what it means to be here in this world. I never write for an audience. It would drive me crazy. I have to write for myself first.

KR: Any ideas for your next novel? (We won’t tell!)

DS: I am actually well into my fifth novel. The working title is More More Time. The basic premise is that how we address the issue of time may be the most important thing we can do to live meaningfully. In the first chapter, the lead character, a cantankerous sixty-two-year-old high school history teacher with an obsession about Lincoln, falls down his basement steps. Soon thereafter he starts hearing this phrase: endingworldendingworldendingworld. In very different ways, each of the characters in this story will be addressing the issue of time whether they are aware of it or not.

To pick up a copy of Chimney Bluffs, visit Savant Books and Publications or Amazon.com.



Interview with Author David B. Seaburn
January 27, 2011, 1:31 pm
Filed under: Interviews | Tags: , ,

I first began working with David Seaburn about one year ago, in February of 2010. I worked as the editor for Dave’s book Charlie No Face, which is set to be released on Amazon any day now–and I loved every second of it. Dave sat down with me and answered a few of my questions about his experience as an author.

1. Tell me a little bit about your experience as an author.

I was published for the first time when I was in seminary at Boston University in the early 1970s. This was a series of poems that appeared in an alumni journal. But I didn’t start writing seriously until a few years later while I was pastor of a small rural church in western New York. There I wrote a book of inspirational vignettes, poems, and songs that was accepted for publication by Macmillan only to be later rejected. I stopped writing completely for almost two years after this, but then started writing short stories again, although I didn’t try to publish them. I left the parish ministry and entered the field of psychotherapy in 1980, working in community mental health, where I published a few papers on my experience as a clinician, including one on a patient’s suicide.

In 1986, I started working at the University of Rochester Medical Center, where my focus on academics also accelerated my development as a writer. Over the next twenty years, I co-authored two professional books and wrote fifty-five papers and book chapters. The rigor of mentored writing and excellent editing taught me a great deal about the craft.

During my academic career I remained interested in fiction, but did little more than collect ideas and make notes.

My first novel, Darkness is as Light (2005), was based on a personal vignette told by a former patient. I couldn’t get the story out of my mind and reworked it in several creative nonfiction workshops, finally transforming it into the backbone of a novel about a middle-aged man and his relationship with his alcoholic father. I wrote Darkness in exactly one year.

In 1990, I did extensive work on a story idea and then stored it all away in a folder. I returned to them years later. They became the basis for my second novel, Pumpkin Hill (2007). I used many of my experiences in rural ministry for this story.

I am very excited about my third novel, my first with Savant, Charlie No Face. I enjoyed this writing project more than any other, perhaps because it gave me the opportunity to use the first person voice of Jackie, the eleven-year-old protagonist, and it is set in my western Pennsylvania hometown, Ellwood City. The title character, Charlie No Face, is a fictionalized version of a disfigured man who lived a rather secluded life in our area. He had been severely burned as a child in a freak accident that left him deformed. He was known to walk country roads late at night, often the target of thrill-seeking teenagers. In this novel, I humanize Charlie No Face and create a unique relationship between him and Jackie, one that transforms them both.

Common to all of my work is an abiding interest in the unique struggles that make us human—loss, fear, hope, uncertainty, connection, separation, meaning, questioning, love, guilt, wonder, joy, and storytelling. I think we are all storytellers. That is how we make sense of our lives and the world around us. When I write, I feel that more than anything else, I am trying to make sense of life, trying to explore its meaning. And, of course, I am trying to tell a good story in the process.

2. Charlie No Face is your first novel working with Savant Books and Publications. How was the publishing process?

I had not heard of Savant until I started the search for a publisher. I found them through a publishing clearing house website and was impressed with what I saw as an independent publisher that was open to new ideas. I quickly learned that the publisher was interested in creating a literary community of authors that would build their writing careers with Savant. This intrigued me. I also learned again that publishing a novel is a very slow process with many steps that must be taken with as much precision as possible. At times, this was frustrating, but the result has been very satisfying.

3. Charlie No Face is also your first novel working with me as your editor. How would you characterize the editing process?

As I have said numerous times, having you as my editor during this process made all the difference. As you know, writers tend to be an anxious group who are a little possessive of their work. Trusting one’s editor is critical. We made a connection very quickly because we committed to communicating with each other regularly, even if we didn’t have much to discuss about the book. You worked very efficiently and creatively.

I remember being delighted when you had completed your first review of the manuscript and had sent me your comments and recommendations. What I appreciated was that it was clear you understood what I was trying to do, you committed to the voice of the narrative, and you sought diligently to make it better. Your suggestions were always offered firmly but respectfully. I think I took them all! And you didn’t hesitate to say what you liked, something that meant a lot when I was feeling insecure about the story.

When we got to line and word editing, my God, I don’t know what I would have done without your keen eye. You found literally hundreds of minor errors I would never have seen. I think we had a great working relationship.

4. What do you look for in an editor/author relationship?

I’m using our work together as the model for what I will look for in the future. Simply put, I look for ‘fit.’ I want to feel like there is a connection between myself and the editor that I can trust. This involves candor, respect, and humor. Of course I also look for talent, someone who can see the big picture, the thematic thread, understand character development and narrative arc as well as the minutiae of editing detail that finishes the product.

5. What are you currently working on?

I am about two-thirds through my fourth novel, Chimney Bluffs. This has been my most challenging work. It is based on an actual incident that occurred a few years ago in England when a little boy died. His parents were so bereft that they leapt from a famous cliff to their deaths, taking two sacks with them. One had the body of their son, and the other had his toys. I thought about this incident for many months and wondered two things: What made this a reasonable thing to do? What would have happened if one parent had survived the leap? These questions form the core of the story.

For more information about David Seaburn, visit the author’s website at www.davidbseaburn.com.




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