Our interview with June #CMCRAFT speaker, James Buchanan of Orchard Writing. 

PKX: Tell us one thing about CRAFT in your life.

James:  So as a writer, the craft of writing is about always learning, you’re always trying to get better. 

Even the fundamentals: characterization, scene, setting, dialogue. Dig a little deeper. Even more. What I see as the important piece of being able to dip into your creativity is that you’re able to create something that has value but also something that is not replicable by anyone else. 

When you’re working for a client, you are trying to establish a solution to a problem. 

In my case it goes to the problem that they have a story to tell, but they don’t have the craft of writing to be able to tell it in a little bit of a storyteller. 

My ability is to dig a little deeper. 

The other half of my craft is creating as much value as possible. It’s creating a great compelling story that somebody wants to just read. 

PKX: Where do you find your inspiration as a creative person? 

James: 

My inspiration I owe a lot to my clients. 

But when I’m writing “for myself,” I try digging a little deeper and chewing on an idea more deeply to come up with something that somebody else hasn’t already come up with. Something that only I can come up with. That’s when I get published. 

When I don’t get published, it’s because I’m either trying to do something that I hadn’t really fully captured, or trying to write in a style that isn’t really mine. 

PKX: Is there anything new or exciting that’s specific to your writing or in your field? 

James: On the creative nonfiction side, the ghost writing, it’s being able to tell deeper stories that have more meaning. 

And then when it comes to the more straight up fiction, it’s being able to identify the seeds of stories and ideas. 

The big piece right there is anytime that you can help somebody find a deeper sense of happiness, be a little bit better. 

With the Internet now the world is open to you. I got frustrated with trying to do “the New York thing” and so I started looking at publishing and in some outlets in Europe and I’ve had a lot of success there. 

The internet is opening up the way people are accepting people and views from other countries and cultures.

It’s been growing for a long time, but it’s continuing to expand. 

It’s great to talk to editors from Portugal and have that moment of excitement when they’re finding what you’re writing interesting.

PKX:  If you could open a door to anywhere past, present, or future where and why? 

James: Either the1920′s or the 1950′s. Writers were far more appreciated and better compensated.  

Referring back to the other question–it’s hard to make a living as a writer right now. And I’m very, very lucky that I can do it. I know a lot of people who do what I do and they have other jobs and other jobs are their full time jobs and they write because they just enjoy it. 

When I look at the past though, there is a richer appreciation for the art of writing, but also the ability to tell a unique story. 

A lot of publications seem to repeat the same fields and it’s harder to find things that are truly, TRULY inspiring. 

I’m reading right now The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell, which is what the Girls of Corfu on PBS is based. The book series was written in the late forties, early fifties.

I am absolutely drawn into the author’s descriptions of the natural world, his humor, his ability to capture dialogue, the scene setting and so many of those craft elements. 

And so here’s this person who is passed away many years ago and I’m learning my craft from him as well as hearing his voice and seeing the world through his eyes. 

It’s pretty incredible.

PKX: Any advice to anyone starting just starting out as a writer?

James:  

Craft. Learn the tools, learn the skills, and then get really, really good at accessing your subconscious. 

All of the deeper stories, the deeper truth, that’s where all of the things that make “you” uniquely you are located. 

In my talk I’m going to talk a little bit about that. 

There’s a lot of interesting research on how the subconscious works. 

Your ability as a writer, or in any craft, to be able to access and dip into the subconscious, is what’s going make your writing more compelling, more interesting, and a higher quality. 

You need to be unique. You need to offer them something that they can’t get from anybody else. 

The way that you do that is through the ability to access your subconscious and dig a little bit deeper into your own. 

PKX: Awesome! What speaker would you like to see at a future PKX? 

James: One I would highly recommend is a local lawyer name Chuck Doleac. He’s one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. He’s a nationally recognized expert on ethics and specifically looking at when ethical imperatives collide. Interesting. His big question: If you’re a judge and you’re presiding over a murder trial and it’s a capital case, and you are Catholic or Quaker or have a belief or moral imperative of do not kill; and yet you also have the legal imperative that you’ve sworn fealty to, you must sentence this person to death. How do you do that? How do you work through that? He answers that question. 

Thanks James! Looks like we have some deep digging ahead of us.

Interview by Monte Bohanan  and Raya Al-Hashmi for CreativeMornings PKX. Photography by Kate & Keith Photography.  Photographed at White Heron Coffee & Tea Cafe.