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A Self Interview by cam8510
Interview Yourself: A Writer's Challenge
Jennifer Arnett, aka availiasvision, issued the challenge here on hubpages for us to interview ourselves. I have put together my own questions along with some that Jennifer recommended.
Here is a link to the article in which Jennifer presented the challenge. Interview Yourself: A Writer's Challenge.
The Barn on the Farm Where I Grew UpClick thumbnail to view full-size
What Was Your Childhood Like?
I was born and raised on a dairy farm in the U.S. State of Indiana where the cornfields go on and on as far as the eye can see. Growing up on a farm means lots of work. In the case of my family, it meant my brother worked hard, and l worked hard at avoiding work. We milked 80 head of holstein cows twice a day. Then there was the time it took to feed them and give them clean places to sleep. Cleaning up after dairy cows is a necessary, but not at all pleasant activity.
I had ponies and horses from when I was very young. I loved those animals and spent every minute with them that I could. We rode bareback and we rode them hard every day.
Porcupine Mountains, Lake of the Clouds
Share one emotionally uplifting moment in your life.
I was visiting the Upper Peninsula of Michigan one summer with friend, and we went to the Porcupine Mountains and Lake of the Clouds. The pathway that led to the scenic overlook went uphill for a couple of hundred feet, then you could see for miles. The view was a sea of forest; thousands of square miles. The scene was overwhelming. That’s how I felt as an adult. As we walked up the hill toward the overlook, a young family was also walking nearby. A little girl, 4 years old, maybe 5, was riding on her father’s shoulders. The little girl stretched and craned her neck to see what was out there. The closer we got, the more excited the little girl became. Then the top of the mountain with all the trees came into view. The little girl said, “What is it? What is it?” We walked a little further, then she exclaimed, “It’s, It’s….the Wooooooorld….!” What a simple, pure response to nature. I still melt when I think of that moment.
Have there been periods of crisis in your life?
The first was when I was 19. I began drinking at that time. I had actually never had alcohol before. That first drink led to being drunk for a whole year. It was alcoholic drinking from the start. With the help of family and friends, I quit and went on with my life.
The second crisis was related to my chosen vocation. I went to College and earned a B.A. in Biblical Education. After fifteen years of ministry and education for ministry, I came to a point of crisis. For a variety of reasons, it became clear that it was time to leave the ministry. That was a personal, emotional and vocational crisis that took me years to get over.
The third crisis had to do with my wife. In September, 1998 Sandy was diagnosed with breast cancer. For nearly ten years, she battled this disease with every prayer, every drug, every ounce of physical, emotional and spiritual strength available. She was an absolutely marvelous person, unforgettable when you met her. She was the most important influence on our sons’ lives, and to this day they are reaping the rewards of her efforts on their behalf. We lost Sandy on April 1, 2008. We had a decade to prepare, but we just were not ready for life without Sandy.
What have been the greatest accomplishments in your life so far?
It is difficult for me to claim any great accomplishments, but I will mention my sons here. Along with my wife, we gave our sons a great start in life. They had happy, fun, intellectually stimulating childhoods with parents who loved each other and them. It was a good time in our lives. Raising these to boys and sending them out to have their own influence on the world is one of the two best things I have ever done.
The second was during my wife’s ten years of cancer treatment. I resolved to be there for her, to go to her doctor appointments and treatments with her and to support her every step of the way. I faltered somewhere in the middle, but on either side of that, I did well. I feel good about those years.
Have sports and athletics played an important part in your life?
In high school I was in cross country (distance running), track and wrestling. I did a bit of AAU wrestling after school. I continued to run until I was about fifty years old. I competed in many road and trail races including a 16 mile trail race and three marathons. I suffered a knee injury which has permanently ended my running. But, with the aid of a knee brace, I am able to do day hikes and backpacking with no problem.
I also enjoy canoeing and kayaking on lakes and rivers wherever I go. Most of the time there is camping gear and fishing equipment stowed away on the boat as well.
If you could have had input into the design of human beings, what would you have added?
A Do-Over-Button that could be used twice. I’d do my whole marriage and child rearing over again. Partly because I enjoyed it so much, but also to do right the times I went wrong. The second time I used the button would be at the very last minute on my deathbed. I’d punch that baby hard and go back to the farm of my childhood. Seriously, I have no idea if this would be a good idea or not.
What part has writing played in your life? What do you hope to accomplish in your writing?
I had a poem published in our local, Northern Michigan newspaper as part of a poetry contest. It was the result of our family hiking in a virgin pine forest not far from our home. The poem went something like this…..
What is it you ask, stranger, traveler?
What is that unfamiliar sound?
And wind in the tops of old lonesome pines
Like water rushing over stones.
That led to my "poetry period," when I wrote quite a few poems.
I’ve had three flash fiction stories published. Two by Flash Fiction World in volume four of their anthologies. Another is in the 2016 anthology for the Writer's Digest Short Story Competition. Out of seven thousand entries, my story, Working Vacation, took twenty-first place.
Right now, I’m working on a novel, and that scares me a lot. I am in over my head, but I’m going to see this through. It may amount to nothing but a sense of accomplishment, but that will be enough for me. This is more than I ever thought I’d do.
The only other writing I’ve done is in the realm of religion and philosophy, but those are all filed away.
I have 50 or 60 flash fiction stories that aren't published other than on my blog. Two short stories and a novella are safely filed away where they will do no harm.
Do you have siblings? And what about your parents?
I have an older sister and a younger brother. My older brother passed away in 2009. My father passed away in 1988. My mother is in excellent health at age 85 and lives in Indiana.
Have you had the opportunity to travel?
I’ve traveled quite a bit. Papua, New Guinea, Norway, Iceland, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, all across Canada, most of the States in the U.S., Mexico and Guatemala. I hope to get to more of Europe in the next few years.
Currently I am a traveling hospital laboratory technician. Over the last four years, I have worked in Missoula, Montana, Medford, Oregon, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Philadelphia, Louisville, KY, Columbus, GA, Colorado Springs, CO and St. Louis, MO. Traveling in my work has given me the opportunity to spend some quality time getting to know the cities and the countryside of our great nation.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
"Keep only your good memories. Put everything else in a pile over there. I'll throw it in the incinerator later."
I see that you are an amateur photographer. Do you have a favorite photograph you’ve taken? Is there a story behind it?
I was backpacking in Jewel Basin near Glacier National Park, Montana. When I began the hike, it was pouring rain and the fog was so thick I could see only a few feet ahead. I finally set up camp to wait for the storm to end. On the following morning, this is what I saw as I reached a high point on the trail.
Jewel Basin, Montana
Challenging Questions (Provided by Jennifer Arnett)
In the film version of your autobiography, who would you like to play yourself?
As a child, Tommy Rettig on the original Lassie T.V. show.
As a teen, The Marty McFly version of Michael J. Fox.
Early adult, James Dean.
Mid life, Fess Parker
Older me, Christopher Walken
Why these? Tommy, as Jeff Miller, was an adventurous farm boy. Marty was a crazy, careless teen. James Dean would make me cooler than I really was. Fess Parker played Daniel Boone, a real man. Christopher Walken is just plain cool.
What quality or talent do you wish you could cultivate?
- Writing in a way that captivates the imagination and moves people emotionally
- A lifetime of sobriety
- Wing suit flying
Who is your favorite fictional character ever?
Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy….the books, not the films
If you could have the career of any author, who would it be?
Farley Mowatt. He was brilliant thinker and writer. He spent all of his time outside collecting material for his books.
What Inspires Me? This.....
What Inspires You?
As a writer? The mountains and canyons of western Montana, like nothing ever has. Other than that, nature anyplace really. Paddling my kayak. Backpacking. Prompts work well for me. Random thoughts.
When Did You First Realize You Were a Writer?
I got a hint of it when I was in seventh grade English class. The teacher gave us an assignment to write a story. Mine was to be about the Evacuation of Dunkirk. I wrote it from the perspective of a radio news announcer who was live and on the scene.
That's All, Folks
That's me in a nutshell. I hope you enjoyed the walk down memory lane as much as I did.