Spending time with Ann Dee Ellis is never boring as you will see from her interview. The year I attended her workshop is a memorable one full of learning, laughter, tender moments and lasting friendships. Every WIFYR experience has taught me something new and helped me become a stronger writer. One thing I learn from Ann Dee was about finding the voice of your character. We are fortunate to have her teaching a mini-workshop on that topic, on Friday, June 20 at the WIFYR conference.
Ann Dee is part of the great blogging team at Throwing up Words.
Q: Ann Dee, do you have a writing ritual – a particular location, a certain time of day, etc?
A: I write in my bed, in the middle of the day, while my baby and my two year old sleep. I try not to eat too much candy but sometimes it can’t be helped. Red Vines, peach rings, and if I’m really having a hard time, chocolate covered cinnamon bears from the BYU bookstore. Sometimes I feel bad about all the candy but other times I remember as a child dreaming of the day I could drive myself to the grocery story and buy myself as much candy as I wanted. That day has arrived.
I also enjoy writing in remote cottages on the beach. I think. I wish. One day.
Q: What were some of your favorite books as a child?
A: I loved Drummerhof. I loved The Little House. I loved The Funny Little Woman.
My mom would read to us at night in her gigantic waterbed that would slosh around when you climbed on it. She read us The Secret Garden, Little House on the Prairie, Charlotte’s Web, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, and a novel about a Native American tribe that had a ritual where if two men wanted the same woman, they would each take an arm and pull. The one who truly loved the woman would finally give up and let her go so that she wouldn’t be hurt. This was romantic. Except when neither let go. Then it was sad.
When I was a teenager, I loved Louise Plummer’s books. I cried my face off in the basement bedroom while reading the Romantic Obsessions and Humiliations of of Annie Sehlmeier.
Q: What do you do when you aren’t writing?
A: I sit on the heater with my kids and color. Sometimes I put make up on. Other times I draw on the sidewalk. Sometimes I teach college students. Or make them cry. I go to church and walk around the halls. I talk to people and watch them.
Q: Of all the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite and why?
A: My Mazzy from Everything is Fine. I love her. I feel like she’s been neglected and she doesn’t deserve it. She’s brave and she’s weird and she puts oranges in her bra and she yells at boys and does yoga and eats marshmallows and watches Oprah and I love her. I miss her and I love her.
Q: What is the hardest part of writing for you?
A: Letting go.
This is my favorite part about writing and also the hardest. Especially when I have limited time.
When you have so little time to write, you don’t want to waste it. You want every minute to count.
That’s a problem because when you create, you need the space to mess up, to go the wrong way, to write big chunks of lovely that will later be cut. You need the freedom to laugh and be ridiculous and try new things and not worry about what you mother or editor or fancy writing friend might think.
Writing is a mind game. It’s about letting go when everything tells you to hold on. To control it. To plan it. To make it good. The hardest part of writing is letting it be bad or weird or nothing. Just writing.
Q: What makes you laugh?
A: My boys. All five of them.
Q: Can you tell us about what you are working on?
A: A book about a girl and a boy and a trailer park.