Welcome to another installment of Meet our SWG Members!
Today’s featured guild member is Corey Huffman. Read about Corey’s involvement with the Guild and their journey as a writer
I have some early memories of writing as a child and becoming absorbed in novels, but that side of me took a backseat to the sciences around the age of fourteen. I showed aptitude for mathematics and the like, and was, in a way, funnelled down that path by the education system and the shared interests of my family. I went on to earn a bachelors degree in mechanical engineering, but as soon as I was out of school and afforded some time to think, I became engrossed with the idea of becoming an author. I remembered a few poems I had written in grade 12 that my English teacher had given praise (poems about Game of Thrones, as I was able to convince her it was not lacking in themes like those found in “true literature”) and started to entertain my lifelong interest in story. Writing does not run in my family (unless you count writing computer code), so my inspiration came mostly from outside the home. I already mentioned my poems based on Game of Thrones, and coincidentally, that book series probably had the biggest impact on me inspiration-wise. I loved the complexity of the story and the multiple point-of-views woven together and longed to create something on an equally epic scale. About two-and-a-half years later, I’m still working diligently on my epic, and have saved up enough money to pursue it full time for a little while.
I grew up in Lively, a small town on the outskirts of Sudbury. I’ve been a member of the SWG since a little before the pandemic, so maybe two years or so (strange how this virus now divides the timeline of my life). I came to the guild when I started getting serious about writing, as I knew it would be valuable to network with people who had expertise in the industry, but also because writing is a very solitary activity and leaving my writing cave every now and again is refreshing. Granted, the pandemic did little to help with the latter. Got tons of words written though! What keeps me coming back is just the desire to spend some time with people who are similarly interested, as there are very few people in my own social circle who are.
The genres I’m most interested in are fantasy and science-fiction, and I’ve been working on writing an epic fantasy novel for the past two to three years. I am now on the third major draft. I am the type to become totally fixated on a single project, so aside from this, I have not written anything but a sci-fi short story (one I’m sure I would cringe when reading, having since improved my craft considerably). My epic fantasy novel is sitting around a whopping 280,000 words and is written in the first-person perspective from seven different point-of-views. You follow the very personal stories of these seven characters as they walk their paths in life, and in viewing all seven perspectives, the reader begins to see a larger story taking place on an epic scale. My writing process is ever-evolving, as this massive undertaking is the only story I have ever completed (if not fully edited), but I would essentially boil it down by saying I plot out the main story beats ahead of time, but write by the seat of my pants to reach each one. I keep things rather fluid in my head, so that if a story thread reveals itself that is better than the one I had in mind, I can go down that path instead. Practically speaking, I sit down and write about four hours every day, constantly think about the story during the rest of my waking hours, and am constantly learning and improving my craft with every edit and rewrite. I have also recently put together a cork board covered in sticky notes connected by red yarn (like in the detective movies) to organize all my chapters from the seven different point-of-view characters. Found that quite entertaining and helpful. As you may have been able to guess by this point, my main goal is finishing this beast of a novel (ideally within the next year, conservatively). Ultimately, however, this will be a trilogy (probably), so this series will likely occupy my mind for the foreseeable future. But before I start on the second, I hope to of course get the first published. I’m always flipping between traditional and self-publishing but am generally leaning toward traditional these days. I may be sending literary agents my manuscript as soon as six months from now!
I write at a desk in my bedroom with a nice view out the window and write almost exclusively on a computer (the millennial that I am). I like to write poetry freehand, but when it comes to my 280,000-word epic fantasy, I can only imagine the hand cramps. I also type probably three times as fast as I can write. As mentioned above, I work on one piece at a time. Perhaps obsessively so.
The pandemic has certainly had an impact on my writing, and I’m happy to say it has been a positive one. I wrote the bulk of my novel’s first draft while I was “working from home” (don’t tell my boss) and the lack of an already sparse social life gave me further time to really solidify my reputation as a hermit and get those words down. Writing has been a great outlet for my creative energy during these times of social change.
I would say my success over the past two to three years I’ve been writing can be summed up by the surmounting of a steep learning curve and all the little victories along the way. Whether it be a sentence that never sounded right but I learned how to fix, or an entire chapter that fell flat only to feel great satisfaction in the rewrite, it has been the struggle and the overcoming of it that has been my own personal highlight reel. And if there were no setbacks, there would be none of these little successes. I’m now writing chapters I’m proud of and doing the story that planted itself in my head all those years ago justice, at least to whatever extent I can. Every draft I’m a better writer and laugh at myself for thinking I had it all down the draft before, but I’m feeling that after these next couple drafts, I’ll be doing more smiling and less groaning. While I’d no longer consider myself a new writer, I’m certainly no expert, so take this advice with a grain of salt, but I don’t see how I can go wrong by saying that persistence is key. The learning curve with writing is a steep one, and you may feel like banging your head on your keyboard along the way, but eventually you’ll read something you wrote and grin. And that first moment along with all the others to come will make the struggle worth it. And write what you want to write, regardless of any advice that says you shouldn’t. Nobody would recommend writing an epic fantasy as your first novel (hell, I wouldn’t to most), but that’s the story I needed to get out, and the learning happens along the way, regardless of the project. And you can always rewrite bad writing. And the first words you write will be bad but write them as if they’ll be the next great thing all the same.
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