BIW Member Interview
Ele Greer is a retired professional artist muddling her way into a writing career while trying to control weeds on her three-acre property with the help of an old-fashioned scythe, an overworked husband, and 22 cats. No one is winning any awards yet, especially not in weed-management.
Moe: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Ele Greer: I guess I’ve always been a writer, just using the skill in other jobs. It wasn’t until after my husband and I began thinking of retirement and getting out of the liturgical arts business, that we started talking about writing a book for churches on how to take care of their stained glass windows. That book has yet to manifest, but it did kick-start some other ideas which, in turn, lead to all kinds of new avenues I hadn’t previously considered. Like eBooks and ghostwriting for internet content. I’ve even revisited a half-hearted attempt at writing children’s books from 25 years ago. One thing leads to another.
Moe: Describe three lessons you have learned about writing.
Ele Greer: First, it’s really hard to hone that writing muscle. It’s analogous to learning to play a musical instrument. You don’t just decide you’re going to play, and then start lining up gigs, because playing an instrument for even an hour is a real challenge when you’re starting out. So you build up to it. Writing is the same way, and practicing each day can be just as boring! But, if you don’t do the time, your end result is not going to be very good. Writers are made, not born.
Second, you’ve got to have friends! I would have given up a long time ago were it not for Book in a Week each month, and for other virtual and real writing pals. Get into a support group that knows this business if you’re serious about succeeding. Peer support is invaluable.
Three, I learned that I don’t necessarily like the process of writing, and just as with my art, I have to have a goal that propels me toward completion of some project. Otherwise, it just feels like wasted time and energy to me. I’m at the “get it done” stage of my writing career now. I’m not giving up until I finish a few projects.
Moe: What are you working on now?
Ele Greer: My usual dozen projects! But there are two focal points. One is a heavy-research book called Big Ideas for Small Towns, that explores ways rural communities can bolster their local economies, before they dry up and blow away. There’s far too much dependence on petroleum to bring everything including food into rural areas, and that’s just not sustainable for much longer. So this book defines those issues and suggests some creative solutions. My other main project is a children’s series about organic farming. Oh, and an eBook… more on that soon.
Moe: Do you have a favorite writing related book?
Ele Greer: Bird By Bird by Ann Lamott.
Moe: What is your favorite writing website?
Ele Greer: I lead a reading group for Women Writing the West so that would be the site I recommend to anyone interested in books heavy on history. As a moderator, I spend a bit of time over there and also promoting it. We just reviewed (BIW member) Ann Parker’s novel, Silver Lies, and she shared some wonderful research tips and historic tidbits. Go here to sign up, and then click on This Month’s Selections.
Moe: Do you have an important BIW tip you’d like to pass along?
Ele Greer: Clean your kitchen the week before BIW and sweep that floor every day! It’ll keep you from procrastinating your way out of a writing day later in the week. A messy kitchen is always my big downfall. Also, eat simply if you can. It frees you up on many levels and helps with creativity.