An emerging yet well-rounded writer with some similarities to Ernest Hemingway, Debra Kraft considers herself a born-again -- or revivified -- storyteller whose work has been sitting in the cellar for far too long. She’s ready to kick her original characters and the worlds they inhabit right out of her nest. (Yes, she enjoys mixing metaphors.) Whether they fly or fall, at least they’ll get a taste of freedom. In the wise words of a character named Charlie Anderson, through the lips of Jimmy Stewart and from the pen of James Lee Barrett, “If we don’t try, we don’t do. And if we don’t do, why are we here on this Earth?” (*From the movie “Shenandoah”)
Her own story….
An Emerging Writer
Some might call me an emerging writer, but that’s only because the Internet and the current course of e-publishing is making it possible for me to share my work as never before. In recent years, I have professionally published poetry in small press, low budget publications. In recent months, I have digitally self-published two poetry chapbook-length collections and a handful of short stories, all of which can be found wherever ebooks are sold. I have written several novels, but have published none. I did go through the formal submission process once, in the early 1990s. The book wasn’t ready, I wasn’t ready, and I am very thankful my work was rejected at the time. I intended to go for it again a few years ago, particularly after a unique encounter with Tom Doherty of Tor. I had a private, unexpected moment with him at the World Fantasy Con in Madison, Wisconsin. Through the course of a brief discussion, I noticed him eyeing my name tag, and I decided I needed to take advantage by rushing home, hurriedly polishing off my latest novel, and getting it on his desk while my name might still ring a bell. Sadly, life intervened. Once I returned home, writing -- or the business of writing, anyway -- had to be pushed behind other pressing priorities. Now it is far too late to imagine he might ever remember the name of an “emerging” writer who did him a kindness that was in fact nothing more than an ethical imperative.
In short, I am not “emerging.” Scouting around for readers, certainly. Hoping to catch the eye of agents and editors, absolutely. But to say I’m “emerging” makes it sound like I’m new to writing. That is far from the truth. Now that I have officially started the second half of my first century on this planet, I can honestly say I’ve been writing for nearly fifty years. I’ve loved words since I first started learning them, and once proudly strode through the house spelling P-O-P precisely because I could (spell it, that is). The first poem I can attest to writing was of the “roses are red” variety, inscribed in a handmade Mother’s Day card I rediscovered a few years ago when sorting some of my mother’s things. As to my last poem…well, let’s hope that doesn’t get written until many years from now.
A Well-Rounded Writer
I have formally taught English to American teenagers and Korean adults. Informally, I coach anyone who asks. My husband considers me his own personal walking dictionary. (Why bother using spellcheck when you can holler down the stairs?) At work, I do a fair amount of technical writing, although I am not officially a technical writer. I moonlight as a writer of Internet articles. I write poetry to stay sane. I write fanfiction to feed my love of characters other writers have given the world, and also to hone my writing and storytelling skills. I write original fiction to give life to characters that otherwise would remain trapped in my soul.
Kindred Spirit to Ernest Hemingway
I share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and was born the very year he died, roughly two weeks before his…our…birthday. There is little else I share with him, however, besides a drive to write. Our words are different. Our voices are different. Our stories are different. I say we share a “drive” to write because no other word really fits. I might have said a “love” of writing or a “passion” to write, but it’s more than that…it’s deeper than that. It is a physical, mental and emotional imperative. I am, therefore I write.
I’ve been world building since the mid-1980s, when a spontaneous writing assignment in college (write an arbitrary story scene, the first thing that comes to mind) drove me to ‘quest’ deeper to figure out what battle my knightly character had just left, and what was the significance of his sword, and…well…the questions never stopped. I built a world, a language, dialects, a religion, a mythology, a history. In fact, I went all the way back in time to establish my world’s creation story. And then I built another world. And another. And….
Born-Again (Revivified?) Storyteller
And now that I have begun the second half of my first century on this world we all share, I have decided I didn’t spend all those years discovering all those answers to all those questions only to have them fall to dust in some obscure corner of a cellar no one will ever visit after I’m gone. It’s time to raise my hand, wave it around a bit, shout a few “yoo-hoo’s!” and see what I can do to bring that dust back to life -- while creating new life with new stories and new worlds along the way.
Publishing Credits archives (for recent credits, see www.debrakraft.net):
Books: Somewhere on the Edge of Words (PublishAmerica); World Building for Writers Workbook (CafePress)
--The Future Looks Bright (published by The Canadian Federation of Poets);
--The Spirit of Humanity (by Artists for a Better World)
-- Everyday Weirdness (4 poems published in 2010)
--"Beneath Between" (Illumen, autumn 2009)
--"In the End" (Aberrant Dreams, 2008)
-- "A Throne's Stowaway" (The Lorelei Signal, April/June, 2007, http://www.loreleisignal.com/LoreleiSignal.html)
--"Burning At Both Ends" and "Three Quarters Out" (Long Story Short, May, 2006, http://www.longstoryshort.us/)
-- "Sleeping Bear Dunes," posted at the Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors Bureau