Writing as Cultivated Obsession and Daily Communion
Dennis finally fulfilled his dream – he got published! He has written several books, but this is the first one available for all of us to get a hold of. You can check it out here BWLF by Dennis Nils. It’s very real. It is a great read (yes, I did indeed read it over the holidays); once I got started I couldn’t put it down.
I am very interested in people’s pursuit of their dreams and goals. So naturally, I sat down and talked with Dennis to find out why it was so important for him to write and get published. Of course, I also wanted to know, how he did it!?
While he began the work on BWLF about 5 years ago, he has been writing fiction for about 30 years. BWLF is his sixth novel. Writing is something Dennis just has to do. After listening to his wife Audrey, you get the sense that all is not right in the universe unless Dennis is writing. According to Dennis, his writing has become something of a “cultivated obsession. Something I believe I was simply meant to do.”
From the beginning, there was something special about BWLF for Dennis. He mentions it had “its own magic for me.” Not just because of the original Beowulf myth, “but because it brought together both sides of my family/ heritage—My mother was from Tuscaloosa, Alabama (alias “Druid City” thanks to oak trees planted there after the Civil War) and my father’s roots are all Norwegian. So I used to joke that the book was really a coming together of my two favorite childhood stories—or Brer Rabbit meets Per Gynt.”
There were plenty of obstacles along the way, including his own penchant for revising his own writing again and again. The Southern setting and tone led him to far too many ornate sentences and overblown metaphors during the first writing. They were the ingredients for something new and good, but needed refinement and cutting. What motivated him was a sense of finally (and belatedly) coming “of age as a writer.” It was never an option to give up or as he stated it to me, “I don’t think I could give up writing now even if I wanted to. It is a kind of communion that I require to get through my day.”
Writing is a lonely job and as Dennis acknowledges, “writers are and have to be very selfish people with their time—if not in other ways.” However, Dennis was not writing in a vacuum; he had support from many sides. His wife was always there for him, allowing him the space to write. He also had strong support from his professional agent.
So what was the secret to getting it done? The key ingredients for Dennis were: “Having fun with it. Number one. Doing it every day – number two. I write every day for an hour or two sometime between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and then more on weekends. I also write in the evening if I get another burst of energy. (Full moons are helpful). But waiting for ‘inspiration’ to write makes no more sense than an athlete waiting for the mood to do pushups or go jogging.”
So mission accomplished? Time to rest on the laurels? Well, not exactly! Another book is going through a second revision right now. Working title “Dog: a novel for our time”. For Dennis successful writing requires patience – not to be mistaken for hesitation – total dedication and complete immersion.
How do you measure success? Well, that depends on your goals, and one must find that answer within.