Michael Snyder: His Writing and His Return Policy
- Thursday, July 30, 2009
That fame and fortune is one of the biggest myths out there about authors. What people don’t realize is that we all have day jobs. What’s yours?
I’m a manufacturer’s rep for commercial food-service equipment. It’s a good job. It pays the bills and it gives me a lot of freedom. I try not to mix the two. In sales, you see a lot of customers, and whenever anything goes wrong, I don’t want them thinking, ‘Oh, he’s probably writing about this.’
All those kids, a fulltime job … .when do you find the time to write?
I write every night from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. I’m a napper, and I’m very fortunate because my wife lets me nap. I take a nap in the evening and then I’m good to go. I also nap on weekends. And occasionally I just conk out and go to bed early.
How much writing do you get done?
It depends. My current book is really hard, because I started with the story and not the characters. So my new goal is to write 714 words a day, seven days a week. Or 830 words for six days a week.
Did you ever think about writing non-fiction?
I do write some. I write for a site called Masters Artist. One of my favorite recent posts is called, “My Lawnmower Hates Me.” It’s a bit like a column, and the site is for loosely-defined Christian artists, and a mixed bag of people.
What’s your next book?
It’s called A Stand-Up Guy and it’s about a stand-up comedian who vowed to tell the truth, no matter who got hurt. Everything becomes fair game when he realizes it works, until everyone becomes fodder for his comedy act.
What’s your favorite thing about Return Policy?
I just love the characters. And I love that people are saying that they actually think about the characters all day long, and that when they finish, it’s like saying goodbye to a friend. I really had to get to know these people.
Why did you make the shift from one to three points of view this time around?
That’s what the story needed. It was originally supposed to be about a guy named Willy and a guy who ran a homeless shelter called Father Joe. But the more I wrote, the more Ozena kept stepping forward and waving her arms. The Shaq character just made all sorts of sense for him to come about. Then I realized he was nuts and was co-opting other people’s memories and stories, and it became fun. The challenge was to keep the two male voices distinct. The crazy guy was a little tougher. You never know if it’s going to work, especially for people who have worked in homeless shelters.
Well, I’ve worked in a homeless shelter, and I think it’s very on-target.
Thanks. That’s always good to hear. Several other people have told me that, too. You just never know.
What drives you to write? And where does your faith intersect with that drive?
I’ve always believed that we were created in God’s image. I don’t think everyone is called to create literature or music, but creating is part of what gives us our vitality. It’s not grand, but when I am not writing I am creating something. Writing is a really nice outlet. It’s a good match.
What do you hope that people take away from your writing?
I don’t think this is totally original, but I think writers write so that people will know that they are not alone. I like to ask a lot of questions and not answer them all—because I don’t have all the answers. I hope people will connect with the characters, and give voice to the thoughts that people have. I think that was the success of Seinfeld. It was always self-deprecating, and they were always punished for their actions. They were giving voice to the things that most people don’t say.
For more information about Return Policy, visit Snyder’s Web site atwww.michaelsnyderwrites.com.
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