MOUNT GILEAD — You could have heard the proverbial pin drop in the auditorium at Mount Gilead High School last Friday as authors Les Roberts and David Kline spoke about their writing experiences.
The audience of 75 Writers Guild members and high school students became absorbed in Robert’s tales of writing for Hollywood television shows like the Lucy Show and Hollywood Squares, and more recently his mystery novels.
Roberts’ advice to writers was short and to the point as he advised, “If you want to be an author, don’t write like Hemingway or Tolstoy. Write about who you are — what you care about.”
“What should a writer do? Shut up and write,” Roberts stated several times.
Choosing the best words is a necessity Roberts stressed, using the example of the word “throw.” You can “toss” keys, “hurl” an object when you are furious, and “pitch” a baseball.
He pointed out that they all give a different emphasis to the word “throw.”
“What you say has to get everybody’s attention,” Roberts continued. “Grab people on the first page.”
Both Roberts and Kline spoke about the importance of reading for writers. They both commented “the best way to learn how to write is to read.”
Roberts said that he read every mystery book he could before he began writing his Milan Jacovich mystery series set in Cleveland. He pointed to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett as two of his favorite, great mystery writers.
“We have to read,” said Kline who is Amish and lives in Holmes County. “I wish the whole country would read like we do in Holmes County.”
Kline said the Holmes County Bookmobile has the most use of any bookmobile in the country. They don’t have TV, so reading is very popular in the Amish community.
Both Kline and Roberts spoke about the problem of distractions from writing. It’s so easy to procrastinate and find excuses not to write. Roberts suggested having a place to write where you can be alone.
“Writing is very personal,” said Roberts. “You can play music; write in the kitchen – where ever you like to write – just shut up and write.”
Several students asked questions. High School Principal Deb Clauss said that David Kline’s answer to a student’s question about how he was inspired to write was especially meaningful. Kline said that his “stuttering inspired him to write.”
“I could write words that I couldn’t say because I stuttered.” Kline said he has continued to write ever since he was seven or eight and in the beginning it was because of the stuttering.
Kline spoke about the importance of his farm and nature in his life. His three books are about life on the farm. The latest is “Great Possessions; an Amish Farmer’s Journal.” The audience especially enjoyed Kline’s story about the visit of Oprah Winfrey to his farm a few years ago.
The Writer’s Guild Retreat continued with a panel discussion of authors at the Mount Gilead Library. It included Roberts, Kline and writers Steve FitzGerald and Forest Smith. Saturday workshops continued at the Rose Heart Inn.
The Mount Gilead Area Writers Guild welcomes new members and visitors at their meeting on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Rose Heart Inn in Mount Gilead.