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Shawn M. Klimek, the middle child of seven creative siblings, is a globetrotting, U.S. military spouse, creative writer, and butler to a Maltese puppy. More than 150+ of his stories have been published since 2018, including five in each of the BHP “Dark Drabbles” microfiction anthologies.
Follow his writing adventures on his Facebook page and find a complete, linked index of his published works (plus free bonus reads) on his blog ‘A Jot in the Dark’.
What’s your background, what compelled you to start writing?
Not long after learning to read, I was eager to use my new toolset by stringing words together to make stories. My eldest brother often joined me in writing for fun and once used the words “metallic clang” to describe a vault door closing. The evocative power of adjectives beyond such primary options as “one, two, red, blue”, etc., was a revelation to me.
Which other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you be a better writer?
My most reliable beta reader for almost twenty years has been Tom Jolly, author of “An Unusual Practice” and other novels and short stories. Other authors to whom I owe special thanks for their feedback include Steven L. Carr, Karen Jeffers Tracy, Mark Kodama and Umair Mirxa—but that’s not a complete list. Besides their essential candor, knowledge, and perspective, their interest is validating.
Does writing energize you, or exhaust you?
What’s your writing Kryptonite?
I have two: Distractions and drowsiness.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Have an ending in mind when you start and don’t stop writing to self-edit. My half-finished masterpieces comprise a heartbreaking collection.
What does literary success look like to you?
To have my work sought after by strangers, and for my writing to be a profitable habit.
What one thing would/did you give up to be a writer?
Until I turned 18, I self-identified primarily as a visual artist, although I also wrote short stories and poems, and dabbled in theater. My art skills were advanced enough to earn a merit art scholarship. But once in college, several things shifted my perspective. First, meeting artist-peers comparably skilled demonstrated that I was not God’s gift to art. Moreover, some of my peers were clearly more dedicated than I was. To stay competitive, I would need to up my game, and for the rest of my life. Was this the life I really wanted? Art is more lonesome than writing! Second, my acting and writing were beginning to earn accolades, opening my mind to alternatives. If I were going to dedicate my life in pursuit of some artistic mastery, were the visual arts really my first choice? So, despite my headstart as an illustrator, I pointedly put down my sketchpad from that day forward, forbidding myself even to doodle on notepads in favor of writing every day. Soon after, I joined the U.S. Army where I became a journalist–an occupation which simultaneously constrained and sharpened my writing skills. For the first two years, however, my newspaper illustrations were more highly regarded than my feature stories. Gradually, that changed.