Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Interview with Michael Robert Dyet: 'Work hard to find your personal narrative voice'

Michael Robert Dyet is the Metaphor Guy. Novelist, short story writer, closet philosopher, chronicler of life’s mysteries – all through the lens of metaphor. He is the author of Hunting Muskie: Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet, Blue Denim Press, October 2017.

Michael is also the author of Until The Deep Water Stills: An Internet-Enhanced Novel – traditional print novel (self-published) with a unique and ground-breaking online companion featuring text, imagery and audio recordings. This novel was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Michael posts weekly in his blog: Metaphors of Life Journal aka Things That Make Me Go Hmmm

Metaphors of Life Journal Blog: www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog2
Novel Online Companion: www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog



What first inspired you to write or who inspired you?

From an early age, words began to spin in my mind in search for that sudden light of insight and clarity. It has always been my desire to make sense of life through the creative exploration of language and story-telling. I am convinced that writing is encoded into the spiral helix of my DNA.

My earliest recollection of catching the bug was in grade six in elementary school. At that time, Composition was a regular assignment. One of the suggested subjects was The Autobiography of a Dollar Bill. I embraced the idea and wove a complex, humorous tale of all the hands that a dollar bill passed through including a bank robbery. My composition was enthusiastically received and I was hooked on writing from that day forward.

Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood was once asked in an interview: What made you decide to become a writer? Her answer was ironic but revealing: A big thumb came down from the sky, pointed at me and said You.

Aside from expressing that she was tired of answering the question, I believe Atwood meant that one never really decides to become a writer. At some point, you realize that for better or worse you are one. It is something you simply must do to be psychologically and emotionally healthy. This has been my experience and my writing is informed by it.

Do you take notes when reading or watching a movie?

No, the creative process does not work that way for me. I am often inspired by other authors, movies and other art forms. In addition, I use real-life events and incidents regularly in my writing. But all of these experiences have to be absorbed into the deeper recesses of my brain to be processed and shaped at the subconscious level.

It is much like the process that forms a pearl. The experience is shaped and polished by subconscious pondering. Sometime later, months or even years down the line when the time is right, it remerges as a precious gem I can insert into a narrative.

It could be said that I make mental notes which are inscribed on the page of my subconscious mind and are the raw material that kick starts the germination process.

Has writing always been a passion for you or did you discover it years later?

Yes, writing has always been a passion for me. But expressing that passion has proven to be an ongoing ebb and flow process. I made a conscious decision to prioritize it as I entered post-secondary education. I chose to major in Creative Writing in university. For half a dozen years following graduation, I continued to exercise my writing muscles.

An ebb period occurred when I married around the age of 30. I put writing aside since it is a solitary pursuit for me. I thought it would be selfish to indulge in it now that I was married.

I realize now that was a serious misjudgment. The need to explore life through writing is something I cannot suppress without doing harm to myself. After my divorce, I returned to writing with a renewed passion and will never let go of it again.

Do you have a day job?  What do you do?

Yes, I have always had a day job to put food on the table and keep a roof over my head. I have worked in the marketing field for thirty years. Initially, I was a marketing copywriter which was a natural choice as a paid job. I advanced into more senior marketing roles over time where writing has been less of a focus.

It is quite difficult to balance the demands of work and the urge to write. But there is discernable, albeit tenuous, link between the ways I pursue both areas. I am by nature an analytical person. I approach problems by pulling apart the pieces of the issue at hand and understanding where they come from and how they interact.

This same analytical process informs my writing. I pull at the various threads of a theme or topic to understand how and why they coexist. The understanding gained through this process becomes the insight I weave into a narrative.

Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?

Yes, most definitely. My tips are for fiction authors.

Tip #1: You will most likely have to make a conscious decision regarding why you write. Is it to earn a living or to pursue your creative passion? There are a few authors out there who are fortunate enough to combine the two. But for many of us, it is by necessity an either/or question. Think long and hard about this question and get comfortable with the answer you settle on.

Tip #2: Work hard to find your personal narrative voice. It is the single most difficult thing for an aspiring author and it goes well beyond the first person or third person perspective question. In your early days, you will likely emulate the authors you enjoy and who inspire you. But eventually, your own unique voice has to emerge if you are to find fulfillment as an author.

Tip #3: Seek out and embrace solitude. It is a rare commodity in modern life. But it is within the discipline of solitude that the best fiction writing emerges. You have to plumb the depths of your subconscious for the stories you are driven to tell. You can only go there when you have cleared the clutter from your mind. In my experience, solitude is the only means of doing so.

Do you let unimportant things get in the way of your writing?

I wish I could say no to this question. But the truth is I struggle with this challenge. Modern life is so busy, and chaotic at times, it is difficult to clear the psychological space that is necessary for the writing process.

I continually push myself to get all the stuff done so I can summon the state of mind from which good writing arises. But there is always more stuff just around the corner. It is a constant struggle which frustrates me.

Honestly, I wish I was better at pushing aside the distractions. I used to think I would get better at it as I got older. But I did not foresee that everyday life would get so much busier.

How often do you write?

The simple answer is as often as possible, but not as often as I would like. I admire writers who adhere to the three-pages-a-day discipline. But that does not work for me.

My most productive period tends to be the winter months when the weather discourages me from being outdoors in the arms of nature which is another passion of mine.

But there is never a prolonged period when I am not writing in some form. I maintain the discipline of blogging weekly which allows me to scratch the creative itch for a couple of hours. And, of course, the idea germination process is always at work.

Are you an avid reader?

Yes, absolutely. Reading both relaxes and inspires me. I always have a book on the go – usually a novel or short story collection. I dream of the day, when I retire, when I only have to split my time into three buckets: exploring nature, reading and writing!

I really cannot imagine a writer who is not an avid reader. It would truly be a contradiction in terms.

What are you reading now?

I recently finished Kathleen Winter’s Annabel – a beautiful novel set in remote coastal Labrador and exploring the difficult life of a child born as a hermaphrodite. I love epic novels like Annabel that tackle sweeping issues and draw me in to a vast, fictional landscape.

I have just started reading The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition by Christopher Volger. It is a bit of an imposing read, but one that I am sure will add a new dimension to my stories. I will likely pop in and out of it as I reader other novels.

I will be starting shortly on The Marrow Thieves by aboriginal writer Cherie Demaline. It is a dystopian novel with an interesting cultural twist.

What are you currently working on?

I have a pearl-in-the-making idea working itself out in the creative factory of my mind that will be my next novel. It will blend parallel storylines in the present and the past. In the present, it will depict a middle-aged, divorced man struggling to come to terms with his failures, with aging and where the next phase of his life will take him.

The parallel storyline in the past will depict a settler family (based on a real-life family) that carved out a harsh living on land they squatted on and are now being forced to leave. The two storylines will converge geographically and thematically. Stay tuned!

Author: Michael Robert Dyet
Publisher: Blue Denim Press
Pages: 240
Genre: Literary Fiction/Short Story Collection

Life becomes a search to find our way back home after unexpected storms knock us off course. This collection of 16 stories reflects that deep urge to return to where we feel at peace. The journey back becomes a rite of passage.

The title story, “Hunting Muskie”, sets the tone – the hunt to find and subdue an unseen foe. Each of the other stories elaborates on this theme.

Hunter is haunted by the mistake that defined his life. A chance encounter sets Edward on a search for answers. An act of bullying committed decades ago brings a day of reckoning for Quentin. Will must pay the ransom of conscience. A shocking event causes Laurel to fall victim to a temptation she cannot rationalize. Huck shuts out the loss he cannot face until he can deny it no longer. Malcolm seeks atonement for a desperate act committed in the name of love.

The longer piece, Slipstream, ties together the connecting threads: the powerful forces that derail us, how we are driven to search for answers and the harsh truth that redemption often comes at a price.


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