Like Benjamin Franklin, Russell Gayer spent most of his adult life in the printing industry, except for three years in which he was a framing carpenter. During that time he’s been honing skills that his wife, Connie, has made sure come in handy ever since.
His collection humorous short stories, THE PERILS OF HEAVY THINKING, is available at Pen-L.com, Barns & Noble.com and Amazon.com.
Russell is the resident humorist of Friday Fictioneers who, every week, manages to pull laughter from the most somber photo prompt.
You may ask (or not ask) what makes Mr. Gayer tick? I did ask. Here are the answers:
What made you decide to be a writer?
I’m not sure it was a conscious choice. I began writing songs and poetry at an early age. I have written over 200 poems. The majority of them were pretty somber or serious stuff. I gave our neighbor, Linda Apple, a book containing some of my poems and short stories about ten years ago, and she invited me to attend a local critique group with her. Several people in that group were published authors who were willing to give of their time to help us “rookies” grow and improve. It was a very nurturing environment and I’m extremely grateful for their guidance and support.
What is your favorite genre? Why?
My favorite genre to write is humor. We live in a very fast-paced world filled with pressure, tension, and stress. People need an escape from that. Sometimes a little silliness is just what the doctor ordered. When people tell me they laughed out loud or snorted coffee out their nose while reading my work, I feel like I’ve touched them in a positive way and perhaps replaced some of that stress with joy, if only briefly.
I’m fascinated by near-death experience books. I find these stories encouraging and supportive of my spiritual beliefs—sort of an affirmation of faith—if you will.
Who is the author who inspires you the most?
My “go to guys” in the humor field are Patrick McManus, Dave Barry, and David Sedaris. Sedaris is more subtle in his approach to humor, but still very funny. I’m also a huge fan of Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder.
In addition to enjoying the story, I study the structure of their work. Their characters, how they set up a scene, use of dialogue and narration, any little thing that can help me become a better story teller.
How often do you write?
I write something every day. Weekdays, I get up at 5 am and write for an hour. It could be on a story, or reading and commenting on blogs. When I go hunting, I take a pad and pen and write in the woods. Some of my most productive periods have occurred in the woods.
I am also what people in my writing group call a “Pantser,” meaning someone who doesn’t diagram out a story before they write, but simply flies by the seat of their pants.
Do you have any major projects in the works?
I’ve been working on ONE VILLAGE SHORT OF AN IDIOT for over a year now. This title was originally used in a Friday Flash Fiction post in October 2015. When I decided to turn the concept into a longer piece, I envisioned something in the neighborhood of 5,000 words. As of today, we’re at 29,000+ and counting. The characters have taken over the story on numerous occasions and created scenes that I never anticipated or would have thought of on my own. It’s been a real blast to write, as I never know what’s going to happen next.
What are your writing goals for the future?
I have a dozen other short stories lying around impatiently waiting for me to finish the Idiot saga. Hopefully, I’ll wrap that one up and hand them all off to Pen-L Publishing shortly after New Year’s. I was hoping for an April Fools book release, but that doesn’t seem too realistic at the moment.
What advice would you give other writers?
Write what you love. Be observant and study the work of others. Hone and polish your craft. Join a critique group and find a beta reader who will provide open and honest feedback. Attend writers’ conferences and rub elbows with published authors.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes.
“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is… the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” — Mark Twain
(This quote copied from fellow OWL member Lori Ericson’s blog) https://loriericson.com/2016/09/18/every-word-is-a-choice-and-opportunity/