BIW Member Interview
Christine Hammar is a mother of 4 grown up children and a happy Grandmother of one grand child. After suffering a severe writing lapse during the years her children were small, she is now catching up, writing and learning the craft. She currently works in a Finnish Transport company, writing in her free time. Being Chair Woman of a Finnish Writer’s Association, Uudenmaan Kirjoittajat ry, also gulps up time from her writing, but she’s determined to write and that’s what she does, no matter what!
Moe: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Christine Hammar: I didn’t. I’ve just loved to write from an early age. Writing stories is what I enjoy doing. Beats cleaning, cooking and ironing.
Moe: Describe three lessons you have learned about writing?
1. Read a lot. Read various genres: romance, fiction, suspense, non-fiction. Read anything and everything, even if you don’t consider yourself to be “the target group” of this or that book or story. All literature has something to give to a writer!
2. One thing about reading I’ve learned is rather funny. No, it’s actually more on the odd side. I’ve read a lot in my life and the oddest thing is, that when I read a good story, it sort of flows, like music. But when I read a bad story, it feels like someone in the orchestra isn’t playing right. I’ve tried to analyze the dang thing and have come to the conclusion that it’s has to do with the rhythm of the story, the words and the sound they and the sentences make, as I listen to the story while reading it. Listen to the story and learn from it!
3. Write, write and especially write about the things you don’t like to write about. Things that make you shiver in disgust. Writing Prompts for example: write the thing prompted, whether it’s interesting or not, whether you feel you know how to write about it, whether it doesn’t interest you one bit.
I skipped prompts I didn’t think I related to, until I realized: everything must interest a writer! Writing is about being humble, about learning. Not about being pompous and a “besserwisser”, a know-it-all. Write LOTS of pastiches to learn the craft.
Moe: What are you working on now?
Christine Hammar: I’m editing the texts for The One and Same Story, a book of 9 different stories with the same theme. I’m also learning how to write a good cozy mystery, the Samuel Becketian way: “No matter, try again, fail again, fail better!” I dream of a series! The working title of the series is called Mrs. Rask Solves, and the first story I’m writing… learning to write, is called The Horoscope Writer.
Moe: Do you have a favourite writing related book?
Christine Hammar: Roberts McKee’s Story struck a chord; although it’s written for film writing. Writing for film is a very visual thing and I’ve found myself to be more visual than anything, where writing is concerned. I always see the things happening in the scene. Even hear the voices, words uttered. Maybe I’m audiovisual or something more, who knows?
Like all writing related books, Story is filled with useful information. The good thing about these books is that whenever you read them again, you find new nuggets of gold. Maybe because you’ve evolved as a writer, they seem to address the very problem you have at the moment and you are able to see more clearly.
Moe: What is your favourite writing website?
Christine Hammar: Writer’s Digest Books: I’ve indulged (read too) in so many books bought from Writer’s Digest Books! All of them about writing, of course. All of them have gold nuggets, some more, some less. Some to be used, some to be disregarded as plain stones.
Moe: Do you have an important BIW tip you’d like to pass along?
Christine Hammar: Yes, and it’s from my own experience (surprise!). When BIW is over, start thinking about the next one and also about the next step in your story. By thinking I mean think in writing! Ponder and wonder; what if this was like that, that like this? What is he going to do, if this happens? What if that happens? What if she kisses him?
Read all your ponderings with thought. Also when writing your thoughts down, do NOT forget the powerful Cause and Effect factor! Do a bit of outlining: write the name of the scene. Write what will happen in the scene in short sentences. It’s so much more helpful, than plunging into the dark! Of course I can only speak for myself. It’s probably a thing about keeping things in order. If one’s life is in a less orderly state (like mine), it gives great satisfaction to at least have a couple of things in order.
Ernst Hemingway has said, “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over.” Well put! I believe he likened the excess usage of adjectives with Baroque.
Also, if your family is used to service, do yourself a favor — clean the house, wash the laundry and prepare food in advance! If not for the sake of your family, do it for yourself! That way you won’t be feeling guilty, nor will you have to listen to all sorts of demands and whimpers in the midst of your writing.