Gab Halasz—Author, Essayist, Humorist

Describe your writing process: schedule, environment, strategies, inspirations, etc.

I’d love to tell you that my writing process involves copious amounts of cocaine while riding a yak naked through the Appalachian Mountains, but sadly it doesn’t. It also doesn’t involve sloths, sasquatch, lube, or the pit pat of tortillas being made all over Mexico. My schedule (please note that I am being fast and loose with the term schedule) revolves around my life. Damn it! If shit is going down, then my writing goes out the door, along with the dogs, old shoes, dead plants, and dust bunnies. It kills me to admit it. I want to be all, “Oh, look at me, I get up every morning at five and write seventy pages of amazing prose before I have my first cup of coffee.” Instead I am, “Give me coffee and leave me the f**k alone for at least an hour. I will be busy checking the weather network, creating astonishing words like GAS, PET and BOOBS in Words With Friends, and perusing Facebook to see if someone (my daughter) has organized an event for me today that will make me want to stab myself in the eye (i.e.: kids birthday parties, socializing with people I don’t know, socializing with people I do know, leaving the ranch, etc.)

I live in the boonies, far away from civilization—on purpose. I am an introvert who is easily exhausted by small talk that involves the weather, babies, cauliflower recipes, and the latest fashion choices. I either write at my kitchen table, or in my art studio, which I christened The Wookie Cave. And, unlike the majority of authors, I have to have my shit together before I can sit down and write. The dishes have to be done, the three inch thick layer of dog hair has to be swept up, and my laundry folded and put away. It’s a sickness. I used to drive my boss around the bend at work with my morning routine of tidying my already spotless office. A real perk of the job if you ask me.

But when I write, I write. When the fever grabs me and the world leaves me alone, I can crank out a couple hundred pages without breaking a sweat. The last five years I’ve been walking every day, and because I live on an acreage, I walk a lot—and think a lot. I work out my stories in my head. Which, truth be told, is probably a good place to keep most of them. After all, jail sounds too peopley. The very first novel I wrote I was training for a marathon and spent countless hours working it out. (Believe me, it was a lot better than focusing on my poor suffering body.) After I finished the race, it took me less than two weeks to type it up, afterwards I threw it into a drawer for fifteen years hoping that it would fall into a singularity that would magically allow it to be seen by a publisher. That hasn’t happened, singularities suck, but I have managed to edit it a few dozen times and sent it out into the world.

“How’s this? Me in a hurricane.”

Tell me about getting your work published, how you find venues, and steps from acceptance to publication.

As of today, most of my published works have been short stories. Mostly I am published online, but I do have a few tales in printed anthologies. At one time I was a zealot and a regular contributor to many zines, but sadly I have been neglecting them while working on a novel, and now another one. However, on occasion, between bouts of self-doubt and loathing, I still manage to write a few short stories. Mostly because little images pop into my head and make my brain itchy until I have to get them out of my system. Then if I feel they deserve to be seen by others, I will look for a publication that is in the market for such a tale.

I belong to a couple of writing groups on Facebook and find them to be very helpful in locating a home for my scratchings. I also do research for publications in between Googling for information about 9mm glocks, EMPs and how to raise honey bees.

Of course, over the years I’ve collected a quantity of “Thanks, but no thanks,” rejections. Initially they traumatized me and I still have the lash scars across my back as proof, but eventually, I came to find them to be part of the process. Now when someone is kind enough to add a few lines beyond the standard “You Suck” boilerplate, I am tickled pink. However, when a magazine accepts me, the yak and I get naked and do a little happy dance to the god of all things small and furry.

Talk to me about your support system online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders?

My husband is one of my biggest supporters, even though he doesn’t understand me at all and can’t believe I go for walks with no destination in mind, and scowls at me when I tell him that we need to get a goat. “That’s a great story,” he says, “But we are NOT getting a goat!” For some reason, even though we come from different planets that are located in different parts of the galaxy, he likes the stuff I write, even when the story involves him trying to fix a spline-winder in a linkage drainage tube. Which he says doesn’t exist, but I totally remember him yammering away about something like that while I was busy ignoring him.

My daughter is my other cheerleader, mainly because she owes me big for squeezing her out into the world and getting me involved in mind-numbingly boring activities like throwing themed birthday parties for babies.

I also belong to the Gallows Hill Writers group in beautiful Lunenburg; we meet every Friday. They are a talented bunch who make me blush when they tell me my stuff is wonderful, but they also kick my ass to do better when they say it sucks and, “You’re better than this codswallop—get crackin’ on the editing or we’ll pull out the cat-o-nine tails.” Maritime writers can be real pirates some days.

How does your writing influence your life and vice versa?

I am never not-writing, even when I am specifically not writing. I jot notes when I come across something that makes me laugh, or cry, or get angry, or even if it just makes me feel exhausted. I highlight stuff in books (the library hates me). Sometimes when I read something that is incredible, I rail against the world with the knowledge that if I wrote every second of every day for a hundred years I would never be that good. But then I pull up my big girl panties and keep on writing my codswallop and dream about baby goats.

What do you love most about your creativity?

For many years I used to run. Mostly it sucked juniper berries. Either my back hurt, my knees ached, or my breath felt as if it would burn my chest into a tiny charred cinder. My running partner and I would whine and complain as we slogged out the kilometers. “This bites, we must be stupid,” we would tell each other. But then would come a day when all the planets aligned. When you had enough sleep, when you’d eaten the right amount of carbs, and when your body felt as light as a dandelion fluff. They were the best runs of my life. I felt like I could fly. Like I was on the top of the world. Like I was high on cocaine, naked on the back of a yak and hurtling through the mountains. That’s how it feels when I write, or paint, or work on a story while wandering through my Nova Scotian wilds.

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